How You Can Slouch On All Types Of Ergonomic Chairs

I recently upgraded my computer chair to a fully ergonomic model. Nothing too fancy or weird, just a regular chair but with fully adjustable everything. I used to slouch terribly in my old chair so I considered the $500+ (yeah I know, not as much as some, but still not too shabby) that I spent on my new chair an investment in my health and posture. When I brought my chair home, I had all the best intentions in mind, I would adjust everything perfectly and begin to sit at my computer properly, according to all the rules. I lasted about 3 hours after that I was back to my old slouching ways.

It’s the funniest thing, but maintaining correct posture while sitting at your computer is damned uncomfortable, no matter what chair you use, which means I for one start slouching very quickly. So, after finding some comfortable and creative ways to slouch in my new chair I decided to do some research and find out if there is an ergonomic chair out there that can completely prevent you from ruining your posture slouching.

I found that there were 5 distinct types of ergonomic chairs out there.

1. Standard/Mesh Fully Adjustable Chair (With Lumbar Support)

Standard Ergonomic ChairThis is your regular stock standard ergonomic chair, looks like a normal chairs except you can adjust everything, height, back tilt, seat tilt and sometimes you can move the back further away from the seat as well.

You can’t really prevent yourself from slouching on these ones, you either have to constantly keep adjusting it, or you let your slouchy creativity flow. Try sliding down low on one of these babies, lower back problems anyone. How about leaning over to the side and putting most of your weight on one of the arm-rests, also very possible and reasonably comfortable.

These chairs don’t really do anything special to stop you from slouching, they are only good for people who don’t slouch already and just need a comfortable chair to support their good posture.

2. Saddle Ergonomic Chair

Saddle Ergonomic ChairNow, we are cooking with gas.  The saddle chair is shaped somewhat like a horse saddle (duh!), and comes with a back or without that’s up to individual preference. These chairs can put you into a half-straddling, half-standing position which makes regular slouching down in a chair impossible.

Those people who think standing up prevents you from slouching have never seen teens “hanging out” down at whatever local hang-out spot they frequent. Relaxing your shoulders and curving them slightly forward while standing up is the very definition of slouching and it’s super cool too (TV says so, therefore it must be true).

This chair fails also. Good concept and if it works for you then by all means use it, as far as I am concerned you can slouch on this as much if not more than on a regular chair.

3. Exercise Ball Ergonomic Chair

Ball Ergonomic ChairEverybody knows that fitness balls are good for you, right? I mean they’re in all the gyms and everybody uses them for all sorts of funny exercises so they must be awesome. So, we put a chair on a platform to prevent it from rolling away from you and we have the perfect office chair. Not only will you help your posture but you can get those rock-hard abba-dabbas all at the same time.

Well, I have to admit, as sarcastic as my last paragraph was this is actually not a bad concept. You can’t slide down on one of these and slouching sideways is also closed to you with no armrest. However once again, the fitness ball relies on you consciously keeping your back straight, nothing is preventing you from stooping your shoulders working on that perfect S-shaped spine that is all the rage these days.

And so another one bites the dust, it is certainly a possibility for some, but only if you have the motivation, willpower and presence of mind to consciously work on your posture.

4. Kneeling Ergonomic Chair

Kneeling Ergonomic ChairI’ve seen these ones before, it is an older concept that has been around for a while and there is probably a reason why it hasn’t disappeared in that time. The idea is that there is a platform in front of the seat that you rest your knees on so that your feet are pointing back rather than being in front of you as in a regular chair. These also come with or without a backrest depending on preference.

Because of the way your legs are positioned it is impossible for you to slide down in this chair or slouch sideways. The even better thing about this chair is that it also makes it fairly difficult for you to slouch your shoulders forward. It is not impossible mind you, but it does tend to be more comfortable to sit in this chair if you back is straight.

Out of the five types of chairs that I mention, I would consider this one the best type of ergonomic chair to help you correct and maintain your posture while you’re at your computer. That is, the best one if you want to still look more or less like a regular Joe office-worker. If you however want to get your weirdness meter going full bore there is the next chair.

5. Zero Gravity Recliner Chair

Recliner Ergonomic ChairI love the idea of this chair. This one is a full-on recliner chair and it is meant to be used by people who have back problems and simply aren’t able to use a regular chair for long periods of time. With this one you sit in a semi-reclined or even an almost fully reclined position. Obviously if you’re using one of these chairs, you can’t use a regular table (if you’re asking why, then think about it). You need to get a special desk/table that attaches to one of these chairs you can then out your laptop on it or write on it as well. I wouldn’t recommend trying to use a desktop PC with one of these, don’t think they are designed for it.

This one is probably tops as far as preventing you from slouching. Since you’re in an almost fully-reclined position, you can’t slide down and going sideways is also tough even though there are armrests. Slouching your shoulders is also not a problem, you’re reclining after all.

The biggest point in favour of this chair is that if you’re using one of these you probably already have some back issues which most likely provides you all the motivation you need to not slouch while you’re working. Even if you did find some creative ways to do it (which I probably could if I tried hard enough), you wouldn’t do it cause you know how much of an issue back problems can be.

Lessons Learned

So what did we learn from all this? Well, sadly slouching is like an addiction, once you’re used to it it is very hard to stop yourself from doing it and just like with any addiction willpower and persistence are the only ways to break your slouching habit. The first thing to do is to admit that you have a slouching problem (I definitely do). The second step is that you have to really want to kick your slouching habit, sadly I don’t think I am at that stage yet, if there was an easy way I would probably go for it, but I just don’t have the motivation to really put in the effort to teach myself not to slouch. I hope the motivation will come eventually, knowing something is bad for you is one thing, but doing something about it is altogether a different story.

The question I have for everyone is this. Do you know of any easy tips to help someone teach themselves not to slouch when they are at their computer? Maybe there is a simple way to slowly wean yourself off slouching and I just don’t know about it. Here is an idea, maybe I missed some sort of ultra-super-slouch-preventative chair (that doesn’t make you the office posture mascot). If you know of any other types of ergonomic seating, then please leave a comment and tell me about it.

  • I read this with a great deal of interest and humor. When I ran my firm, which was paper generation intensive, I had a cracker jack clerical staff, many of whom were willing to work long hours. Consequently, I never shaved pennies on office equipment. I recall telling them to go out and purchase the best chairs they could for the money, so that they would be happy and productive. I, myself, used an inexpensive, shabby chair. When we shut down the firm, I took one of the relatively expensive chairs home with me to use, and much to my surprise, it was amazing in terms of pretty sloughing and reducing fatigue.

    Didn’t know that there were so many other models. Thanks, as always.

  • Juraj

    Having monitor in elevated position (i.e. by putting books under it) so that middle of monitor is on eyes level, helps me not to slouch. Wonder why LCD monitor vendors never enabled monitors to slide upwards more than 20cm or so.

    • Rob Whelan

      This is my approach — instead of a fancy chair, I got an articulated arm for my monitor, and keep it up high enough that when my posture goes to hell (as it does… I have the same bad habits) I notice, because I have to twist my neck up uncomfortably to still see the screen. Then I straighten up (I mostly just sit on the edge of my normal chair) and/or stop to stretch out my shoulders/back, walk around a little, or even try working standing up for a little bit (again using the monitor arm and a box for the keyboard/mouse).

      I did a similar thing in my car, actually — adjusted the rearview mirror so that when my posture is poor, I can’t see the road behind me properly. I notice fairly quickly that I’m seeing mostly car interior instead of the road, and straighten up again.

      It’s not perfect — I have no idea how to actually break the slouching habit… when I’m really concentrating, I lose track of stuff like that… but that coupled with getting a little exercise every day has helped my get rid of some worrisome back pains I started getting a few years back.

      • I think that exercise tip is key here, especially if the work you do is most sedentary.

  • I was slouching in my ergonomic desk chair whilst reading this article. Leaned forward, elbows on the cube desk, face 5in from the monitors I keep really high so I don’t slouch. :)


  • Chris Kissinger

    Watch the movie Grandma’s Boy. I was like HOLY CRAP…over a chair for programming…

  • Chris Kissinger

    Or if you are REEEEEALLY freaking serious…

  • Paulus Magus

    Sitting up straight is not good posture. Straight and square is how you walk. You should sit reclined at 135 degrees, which is more comfortable, positions your butt correctly, and offers better head and neck support. The problem is not slouching, it’s the poor design or workstations. And the ignorant who keep telling children fairy tales about posture.
    The economic chair industry is crap because it’s designed for the wrong posture, the one school teachers and other tools believe looks better. There is no basis in science for this sit up straight shit. The real solution is elevating monitors, instead of using what is basically an ancient style of writing desk for a totally different task.

  • StevenGarySmith

    The only way I stopped slouching (and ditched my neck and shoulder pain) was by taking Alexander Technique lessons weekly for about 4 months. All you need a is a plain wood kitchen chair with a 2″ high quality high density foam cushion (flat cushion – not those wedge styles) and the chair should have a straight back – 90 degree bend from the seat (the ones that slant away are no good). The seat of the chair should be parallel to the floor, not slanted toward the back, which is sadly all too common in many modern chairs (designed to stack, and designed to conform to bodies that slouch). The height of the chair should be at a height that allows your legs to sit squarely on the floor – they shouldn’t dangle, nor should you be so low that your thighs lift from the chair. From there, if you’ve been taught good posture, you can hold your body in a neutral position (ears, shoulders, and hips aligned, shoulders relaxed) with minimal effort – your back hardly touching the back of the chair. When you get a little tired, that’s a good excuse to get up and walk around a for a bit, which with even the best posture, should be done at least every 45 minutes or so. Also, the computer monitor should be eye level, and keyboard / mouse should be level to a 90 degree elbow bend. Ergonomic chairs are the enemy of good posture and a healthy back (I can only imagine the muscle atrophy people develop sitting in one all day). Also, wheels on chairs are bad since they are harder to sit and stand from without involving your arm muscles, which tends to make people tense their entire upper body unnecessarily. My recommendation to anyone trying to get this right is to find a certified Alexander Technique instructor in your area and get back in touch with natural posture and movement. It’s something you do, not something you buy. The good news is that 6 months of Alexander Technique lessons could change many aspects of your life, and also cost you less than buying a Herman Miller chair that will eventually end up in a land fill.