How to Choose an Ergonomic Chair 2:Seat Recline

Ergonomic Chair Seat Recline

Very few people sit completely still in their chair.  This is actually a positive, considering that movement not only relieves pressure to the spine, but also facilitates blood flow.  The best part, is that a recline range of only 20% can actually reduce total spinal stress by up to 40%.

Obviously the best recling options are going to be a chair that has the most options.  In this case, this means a reclining portion that pivots, locks, manages overall tension level, is easy to adjust.  Not every chair is like that though.  Reclinability can be broken down as follows.

1. A GOOD Ergonomic Chair : Single Point Pivot

The back of the seat will move a limited amount based on the location of the seat pan.  This is only slightly different then a fixed back chair.  Unfortunately, the front of the seat pan will sometimes rise along with the back of the chair.  This causes pressure underneath the user’s legs.

2. A BETTER Ergonomic Chair: Synchronous Tilt

This is extremely similar to a single pivot reclining mechanism.  However, this type of chair has the added benefit of the back of the seat being connected to a mechanism in the rear of the seat.  This means that when the seat goes back, the back of the seat pan slides down.  This prevents increased pressure on the bottom of the legs.

3. The BEST Ergonomic Chair: 3-Point Pivot

This is basically the synchronous tilt mechanism with a higher level of fine tuning.  Not only will the seat pan move in relation to the seat back, but it also maintains a consistent level of lumbar support regardless of recline level.



  1. Ric says:

    Hi, I was seriously considering the Herman Miller Mirra or Steelcase Leap. I really liked your reviews of the chairs, feel like I have a much better picture of what they are like however I’m worried about the pressure these chairs put on your thigh from reading your reviews. I got the impression both chairs were unusable because of this but in conclusion you still highly recommend the chairs. One of the problems with my current chair is the pressure distribution. I’m considering the Dauphin Shape as an alternative if I find these chairs arent suitable. There are stores I can try the mirra and leap but not the dauphin shape. Have you had any experiences with dauphin chairs?

  2. Tommy says:

    This is a great place for exactly what I need/want to know about an office chair and the problems I go through with these cheap run of the mill Staples chairs. You know, the $150 or less ones. I hate them all. They all push forward without any gears other than the height adjustment, some have the lock which really doesn’t lock it in place, but disallows it to further slant backward. As far as the butt aka the actual seat … the panning you’re talking of, this is forward/backward in a balanced/leveled state, right? When you mean seat pan, you mean, from the furthest back you can plop your ass comfortable against the lumbar back, to the very edge where the back of your knees are, correct?

    Quick example: Currently, I lodged two sneaker shoes propped underneath two front wheels, to lift the front of the chair/seat because I keep falling/pushing forward. But this isn’t ever enough, #1 because when the chair is straight balanced with my weight sitting .. it is sloppy, it doesn’t sit right on the bar that holds up the seat to the wheels. But, however … with this occurring, if I tilt the chair back just a hay, lock the adjustment bar … push the keyboard closer towards me (since I have one of those old “write me a poem on a typewriter” wooden desks with the 2-foot leg area and a drawer, the arms don’t fit and hit the desk .. it has a towering panic-giving shelf on top of the desk? Anyway, so if I pull up the keyboard towards the edge of the desk, the pc monitor 20-30 away, with a slight tilt upward and in this state, sit back until it locks which is about a 2 inch push backward? This is ideally comfortable. But, I knowingly am aware the chair is propped on a pair of shoes, can spin around but cannot move the chair at all and with the desk hitting the arms, I can’t set this up too close or else I’d A. Not be able to get into the seat to sit in the first place, or B. Get up without having to take it off the shoes.

    If I can find a chair that does THAT without me having to use shoes and blah blah blah, man, I’d be gold. The desktop is TOO high, as well. I know this causes many issues, maybe most for this specific mesh mid-back chair $60 Walmart. It’s 30.5″ desktop. Unreal. My chair only goes up so far.

    Anyway, my point is “I love this blog” at least for helping steer me in the right direction. Thank you.

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