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Best Office Chairs for Back Pain

best office chair for Back Pain
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Updated May 13, 2024

As Americans, we spend an alarming amount of hours a day in a seated position. According to a recent study published in JAMA, which analyzed health information from nearly 6,000 individuals, about 25% reported that they are seated for more than eight hours in a single day. For the nearly 65 million Americans suffering from chronic back pain, prolonged sitting can have major consequences, as it places unnecessary strain on the back as well as the arms and legs, according to studies from UCLA Health. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you’re choosing a chair that supports this area of your body—and know how to choose the right office chair.

What to consider when choosing the best office chair for back pain

As you set out to shop for the best office chair to alleviate your back pain, be sure to consider these important factors.

Your dimensions

It’s not only the chair's dimensions that matter, but yours, too. (This is especially important if you’re buying chairs from online furniture stores, where you can’t see them in person.) As you probably know, if you’re a tall or short individual, height matters when it comes to your chair. “It is nice when you can adjust the chair to fit your specific body dimensions and have a low back support with a back that allows you to recline if desired,” says Jen Fraboni, P.T., D.P.T., creator of @jen.health and podcast co-host of @theoptimalbody.

Adjustability is also important since it is important to be able to place your feet flat on the ground, with the hips and knees bent to 90 degrees. “If the seat is too low, the knees will be higher than the hips, which can alter the position of the pelvis and cause low back pain because the lower back will be flexed or slouched,” says Dr. Karena Wu, a physical therapist and owner of ActiveCare Physical Therapy in New York City. “If the seat is too high, the knees will be lower than the hips, which can then cause too much of an arch in the lower back leading to increased low back compression.” The best ergonomic office chairs offer adjustability to customize the chair to support the ideal position for your body.

Support

When talking about the kind of support you want to look for in an office chair to help with back pain, lumbar support sits at the top. Lumbar support provides cushioning for the low back and helps remind you to maintain the normal low-back arch which, according to Wu, can help reduce overall back pain.

Padding varies significantly when it comes to the best office chairs, with some offering extra padding built into the low back of the chair and others with adjustable settings you can turn to increase the pressure supporting your back. Having the right support from your office chair also helps ensure you maintain proper posture, which can then help reduce pressure on your spine and low back, notes Wu.

Seat size

Not only will a greater seat width provide more comfort, but it will also allow for proper spinal alignment. If the seat of the chair is too narrow, you might end up with some hip pain caused by the compression of your legs.

The seat size (depth and width) of the chair is another important feature. According to Wu, the seat should be able to support your pelvis and thighs to create a good stable base. “You should be able to sit back fully in the seat so that your back will contact the chair back, with any lumbar support,” she adds.

Our picks for best office chairs for back pain

Best office chair for lower back pain: Herman Miller Sayl Chair

Best office chair for lower back pain
Herman Miller Sayl Chair

Herman Miller Sayl Chair

As far as adjustments go, The Sayl is equipped with pretty much everything you need to customize and help reduce back pain, including ventilated back flexes that offer free range of movement, a Harmonic Tilt, which supports natural movement and a balanced recline, and an adjustable pelvic tilt.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 54 pounds
  • Max load: 350 pounds
  • Box dimensions: 39¼ inches (H) x 24½ inches (W) x 19¾ inches (D)
  • Warranty: 12-year
  • Price on publish: $735

Pros:

  • Adjustable pelvic tilt
  • Armrests that can raise to your comfort level
  • Has an interesting silhouette
  • Comes in various colorways

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Arm rests not 100%symmetrical

Get it here: Herman Miller Sayl Chair


Best office chair for back and neck pain: H1 Pro Ergonomic Office Chair

Best office chair for back and neck pain
HINOMI H1 Pro 3D Lumbar Support Ergonomic Office/Gaming Chair - 5D Armrests Leg Rest Included Hybrid Mesh Relieve Back Pain, Foldable, Work from Home Office with Adjustable Headrest

HINOMI H1 Pro 3D Lumbar Support Ergonomic Office/Gaming Chair - 5D Armrests Leg Rest Included Hybrid Mesh Relieve Back Pain, Foldable, Work from Home Office with Adjustable Headrest

Whether you’re an office worker or a gamer, this chair is designed to significantly reduce your back pain by alleviating the pressure placed on your spine, including your cervical spine, thoracic spine and lumbar spine. You can adjust the backrest height in five variations to promote better posture and take off any pressure you’re feeling in your seated position. Last, but not least, it folds up for easy storage.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 54 pounds
  • Max load: 300 pounds
  • Box dimensions: 30.3 inches (L) x 27.6 inches (W) x 19.7 inches (H)
  • Warranty: Up to 12 years
  • Price (at time of publish): $659

Pros:

  • Five levels of adjustment
  • Adaptive neck support
  • Multifunctional design
  • Folds for space saving

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Height adjustability can be tricky to utilize

Get it here: H1 Pro Ergonomic Office Chair


Best office chair for upper back pain: The Verve Chair by Branch

Best office chair for upper back pain
The Verve Chair by Branch

The Verve Chair by Branch

The Verve is easily adjustable and has six different ways that it can be adjusted. Being able to adjust the tilt, seat height, seat depth, armrest height, lumbar support, and tilt tension is essential to preventing low back pain, according toWu. “The seat is made of high density foam which will contour and support your seat which can help unload spinal compression,” she says. “The chair back is also made of a 3D knit material that allows for optimal airflow.” Also worth noting: It won the California iF design award, and is praised for its combination of back pain comfort and style.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 40 pounds
  • Max load: 275 lb
  • Box dimensions: 27 inches (L) x 27 inches (W) x 41 inches (H)
  • Warranty: 7 years
  • Price on publish: $494

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Ergonomic design
  • Unique colorways

Cons:

  • Makes odd sounds
  • Armrests adjustments not button- or lever-based

Get it here: The Verve Chair by Branch


Best ergonomic office chair for back pain: HON ignition 2.0

Best ergonomic office chair for back pain
HON Ignition 2.0 Ergonomic Office Chair - Tilt Recline, Swivel Wheels, Comfortable for Long Hours in Home Office & Task Work, Executive

HON Ignition 2.0 Ergonomic Office Chair - Tilt Recline, Swivel Wheels, Comfortable for Long Hours in Home Office & Task Work, Executive

The HON ignition 2.0 is a fully adjustable office chair that caters to individuals suffering from chronic back pain. It comes with both height- and width-adjustable arms, a contoured breathable 4-way stretch mesh back that increases airflow, pneumatic seat height adjustments and it doesn’t take up too much space in your office area.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 42 pounds
  • Max load: 300 pounds
  • Box dimensions: 28.5 inches (D) x 27 inches (W) x 44.5 inches (H)
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime warranty
  • Price (at time of publish): $399

Pros:

  • Waterfall foam seat offers comfort
  • Tilt recline
  • You can customize your posture
  • Adjustable arms and height

Cons:

  • Narrow construction
  • Not as padded as other office chairs

Get it here: HON ignition 2.0


Best budget office chair for back pain and best budget ergonomic office chair for back pain: Modway EEI-757-BLK Articulate Ergonomic Mesh Office Chair in Black

Best budget office chair for back pain
Modway EEI-757-BLK Articulate Ergonomic Mesh Office Chair in Black

Modway EEI-757-BLK Articulate Ergonomic Mesh Office Chair in Black

This chair with supportive mesh is under $200 and allows you to adjust seat height, armrests, plus tilt power for comfort. There isn't a headrest, which might be a dealbreaker for some people, but with a weight capacity of up to 331 pounds, it gets our vote for a decent office chair if your back hurts, but you're on a budget.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 42 pounds
  • Max load: 331
  • Box dimensions: 26"D x 26" W x 41.5"H
  • Warranty: N/A
  • Price on publish: $158.60

Pros:

  • Adjustable arms
  • Tilt recline

Cons:

  • No headrest

Get it here: Modway EEI-757-BLK Articulate Ergonomic Mesh Office Chair in Black


Best leather office chair for back pain: Leap by Steelcase

Best leather office chair for back pain
Leap by Steelcase

This office chair offers 4-way adjustable arms, each with the ability to pivot as well as alter the height, width, and depth, adjustable lumbar support and wheels so that it can be moved easily on any surface, including carpet. It’s upholstered with real Elmosoft leather, which is chrome-free and soft, and features back support that conforms to your spine for optimal flexibility and support.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 66 pounds
  • Max load: 400 pounds
  • Box dimensions: 35 inches (H) x 27 inches (W )x 22.75 inches (D)
  • Warranty: Limited Lifetime Warranty
  • Price on publish: $855-2,227

Pros:

  • Offers a large weight limit
  • Fully customizable design

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Expensive

Get it here: Leap by Steelcase


Best upgrade office chair for back pain: Herman Miller Embody

Best upgrade office chair for back pain
Herman Miller Embody

Herman Miller Embody

If you have a larger budget, you might as well go all in for this Herman Miller office chair. The embody offers a modern ergonomic design that allows you to adjust so many of its features, including the armrests and seat. Its four-layer seat comes with elastic suspension and supportive coils move individually to allow for full range of motion. Shopping tip: Herman Miller isn’t just for office chairs—the design-forward company also made our list for the best gaming chairs.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 51 pounds
  • Max load: 300 pounds
  • Box dimensions: 43.5 inches (H) x 29.5 inches (W) x 29 inches (D)
  • Warranty: 12-year
  • Price on publish: $2,165

Pros:

  • Fully adjustable and customizable
  • Stylish
  • Generous warranty

Cons:

  • Feels a bit rigid at first
  • Expensive

Get it here: Herman Miller Embody


Most sustainable office chair for back pain: Herman Miller Mirra 2 Chair

Most sustainable office chair for back pain
Herman Miller Mirra 2 Chair

Herman Miller Mirra 2 Chair

In true Herman Miller form, this chair offers all the bells and whistles, including an ultra-flexible backrest that actually adapts to your spine’s unique shape to help you maintain proper posture. It also offers supreme lumbar support and has armrests that take the pressure off your lower back. For folks seeking sustainability perks, know that this chair is made from 42 percent recycled materials and is up to 93 percent recyclable at the end of its life. It also comes with a 12-year warranty, so you know that it’s built to last.

Specifications:

  • Weight: 42 pounds
  • Max load: 350 pounds
  • Box dimensions: 42¾ inches (H) x 30 inches (W) x 18½ inches (D)
  • Warranty: 12-year
  • Price on publish: $1,410

Pros:

  • Adjustable and customizable
  • Ergonomic design
  • Sustainable

Cons:

  • Takes time to break it in

Get it here: Herman Miller Mirra 2 Chair


Most colorful office chair for back pain: Mimoglad Office Chair

Most colorful office chair for back pain
Mimoglad Office Chair, High Back Ergonomic Desk Chair with Adjustable Lumbar Support and Headrest, Swivel Task Chair with flip-up Armrests for Guitar Playing, 5 Years Warranty

Mimoglad Office Chair, High Back Ergonomic Desk Chair with Adjustable Lumbar Support and Headrest, Swivel Task Chair with flip-up Armrests for Guitar Playing, 5 Years Warranty

This office chair is a solid choice if you want a colorful chair for your home office that is also safe for your back. Offered in an array of stylish hues that go far beyond the usual black and gray, such as green pear, Spanish pink, and carrot orange. We also love that you can flip up the armrest if you need to grab your work bag or backpack (or to make getting in and out of the chair a little easier) without putting strain on your back and that it swivels for a range of motion, making it usable seating for various tasks. This ergonomic chair provides proper spinal alignment to ensure you do not hurt your back, and its strong lumbar support and adjustable headrest help to make your workday more comfortable.

Specifications:

  • Weight: N/A
  • Max load: 300 pounds
  • Box dimensions: 16.53 inches (D) x 19.68 inches (W) x 50.78 inches (H)
  • Warranty: Five years
  • Price (at time of publish): $119.99

Pros:

  • Comes in a variety of stylish colors
  • Has flip-up armrests
  • Highly rated on Amazon

Cons:

  • Seat may not be wide enough to accommodate larger bodies

Get it here: Mimoglad Office Chair


Best massaging office chair for back pain: X-Basic DVL Task Chair

Best massaging office chair for back pain
X-Basic DVL Task Chair

X-Basic DVL Task Chair

Though the massage feature doesn’t come standard (it’s an add-on for an extra $100-150), it’s more than worth it if you experience back pain—especially lower back pain. You can choose to add either from a massage with heat, or a massage function with heat and cooling options. In addition to these features, you also have the option to purchase it with or without a headrest. The chair is, of course, great for those experiencing back and neck pain due to its ergonomic design and its Dynamic Variable Lumbar (DVL) support, which pivots as you change positions during the day. It’s on the slightly larger size, so consider your office space before you purchase.

Read our full review on the X-Basic DVL Task Chair >>

Specifications:

  • Weight: 41 lbs
  • Max load: 275 lbs
  • Box dimensions: N/A; chair is 46.125 inches (H) x 27 inches (W) x 26.5 inches (D)
  • Warranty: Moving parts and materials covered for five years, and non-moving metal parts covered for 10 years
  • Price Range: $559 (base model), $659-709 (with massage functions)

Pros:

  • Adaptive position support
  • Breathable nylon fabric
  • Comes with or without headrest

Cons:

  • Pay extras to make the chair more comfortable

Get it here: X-Basic DVL Task Chair


How we selected the best office chairs for back pain

We reached out to qualified and vetted physical therapists and even a sports scientist to get an understanding of what to look for in an office chair for individuals who suffer from back pain. We also combed through customer reviews and spoke first-hand to customers to get an idea of what they liked most from their office chairs and what specific features they sought out when shopping for one.

The best way to sit in office chair for back pain

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how you should sit in an office chair. Ultimately, this will look slightly different for everyone. However, Fraboni likes to recommend to her clients dealing with low back pain to experiment with their chair to find whatever position gives their body the greatest amount of ease while they work.

“Ensuring that we are sitting on our ‘sit bones’ (the knobby bones known as the ischial tuberosities) can help take pressure off our back by naturally stacking the spine,” she says. “Some people might find it more comfortable to put a pillow behind their back or under their bottom to relieve certain pressures in their body.”

Can office chairs help back pain?

While the right office chair with a proper ergonomic setup can certainly help alleviate some of the symptoms of back pain, it will not fix an underlying back condition. One overlooked issue is the risk of neck and upper back pain, according to author and sports scientist Elesa Zehndorfer, Ph.D., which can even lead to spondylosis (a loss of cartilage lining in the vertebrae) over time. “A great ergonomically-designed chair not only mitigates this risk and also helps to support generally good posture which, long term, will lower non-specific back pain caused by poor posture,” she adds.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What type of office chair is best for sitting all day?

The best office chair for extended sitting is one that offers variability in seating positions. This means having adjustable features for lumbar support, seat height, and seat back tilt, allowing users to change their posture easily throughout the day.

Should my lower back touch the chair?

Yes, it is good to have a chair that gives a little pressure and feedback into the low back and sacral area. However, Fraboni points out that this should not be due to rounding or slouching so that your low back is then resting into the chair. “We want to find those sit bones, make sure we are sitting forward onto them, and then see if the chair presses into the low back or can be adjusted in a way that it does,” she says.

Are there specific chair brands or models recommended for back pain relief?

Certain office chairs have features that lend themselves to be especially beneficial for individuals suffering from chronic back pain. Many of these offer seat height adjustments, lumbar support, backrest angles, and more.

Can using an exercise ball as an office chair help with back pain?

Using an exercise ball as an office chair can sometimes help with back pain, but it can depend on the individual, notes Fraboni. “Some people might find that sitting on an exercise ball helps them stay dynamic and supported through the core and their back, but others may not have quite the core endurance or awareness to be able to sit on an exercise ball for an extended period of time,” she says. “This might result in them assuming a rounded, unsupported position after a short amount of time.”

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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