Over the short term, the answer should be obvious to most people. A gaming chair with a flat seat is more comfortable than one with bladed edges. A seat with edges is designed to restrict legroom. A flat one does the opposite, providing the space to sit however you like. Day-to-day, feeling restricted doesn’t compare to feeling free and loose. But over the long-term, free vs restricted sitting has a big impact!
When standing, a healthy lumbar spine curves inward with a 20-45° curve. Sitting narrows that curve by half(1). That forces back muscles to work harder at holding the torso upright.
Once spinal muscles tire, the lower back curve flattens to less than 10°. That curls the spine into an ugly “C’ shape. This is a major cause of lower back pain. Ergonomic chairs address this by encouraging users into neutral sitting positions.
A neutral posture involves four steps. First, plant your feet. Second, bend your knees at a 90° angle. Third, sit with your hips angled slightly higher than your knees. Fourth, apply mild pressure to your lower back curve. Combined, these steps make it easy to sit up straight.
Sitting with planted feet is essential. That’s why some gaming chairs (like the Secretlab Omega) have bladed seat edges. These force users to sit with both feet down at all times.
That’s good for your back, but sitting that way all the time feels restrictive. As a result, other chairs (like the Secretlab Titan) have flat seats that give users a choice.
You can sit in a Titan with planted feet, one foot up, or even cross-legged. This freedom makes sitting extremely comfortable. But which style works better over a long period of time? After hundreds of hours of testing, this report reaches a clear conclusion.
Flat Vs Bladed Seat Pros and Cons
Flat seat styles encourage casual neutral postures; bladed ones enforce stricter ones. Details:
Flat Seats: More Comfortable
Lately, I’ve been using a pair of Titan Evo 2022 Series chairs. These have gifted me with the most precise gaming chair back support I’ve ever tried. For several months, I enjoyed crisp neutral postures without any effort while computing.
However, the flat, wide Titan 2022 seat style is very tempting. After sitting with a strict, clean posture for a few months, it encouraged me to get a bit sloppy.
The problem is that muscles adapt as you sit in certain ways for long periods. For instance, putting one foot up (or crossing your legs) breaks the even weight distribution that a gaming chair provides.
That overloads spinal discs on one side of the body. Over time, sitting this way will create new muscle patterns(2). As the body’s fascia system adapts, sitting askew will become more comfortable than sitting straight!
I experienced this first-hand. In a flat, spacious Titan seat, sitting with one foot up began a downward spiral. As my muscles adapted, I started sitting with one foot up more often. Soon, I started sitting that way most of the time.
When your muscles misalign in a spacious gaming chair, chaos can happen. As misalignments get worse, you might start sitting willy-nilly in a desperate bid to get comfortable!
Bladed Seats: Better Posture Support
Since 1994, the Herman Miller Aeron has reigned as one of the world’s best ergonomic chairs. It made its debut with the original bladed seat style. Hard plastic edges line the mesh seat, protruding as barriers.
These bladed edges are a big part of the Aeron’s success. These make it almost impossible to sit cross-legged, or even with one foot up. That makes users more likely to keep their feet firmly planted on the floor. Then, the Aeron’s ergonomic features become more potent.
Among gaming chairs, the Secretlab Omega and Noblechairs Epic are two popular bladed seat chairs. Both dissuade haphazard sitting, although not as extreme as the Aeron does.
For instance, it’s possible to sit with feet up in an Omega. However, because of the bladed edges, it feels more comfortable sitting with planted feet.
As a result, users become more likely to keep their feet planted. That provides the power to hold the torso upright. In the process, it pushes your lower back — right to where your lumbar support should be!
Bladed Seat Downsides
Bladed gaming chair seats make you more likely to maintain good posture while sitting. There are two downsides. First, heavyset users may find a bladed seat digs painfully into their thighs.
Second, sometimes you might not want to sit straight. Flat seat styles give you the freedom to choose. Bladed ones force you to sit upright at all times. That’s better for long-term health but can get annoying.
Ultimate Solution: 2-Chair Setup
Famous Youtuber Techlead did a review of the best ergonomic chairs for programmers. His ultimate solution was a 2-chair combo.
He chose an Aeron chair as his ‘strict working chair’. But when the sun goes down and it’s time to play, he changes over to a Staples Hyken with a flat seat. Here’s his rationale:
Three months after he published that video, he sent ChairsFX an update:
Dual-chair benefits: “I love having two chairs; the different seating positions help me move my body around to avoid stagnating. I think everyone could benefit from having multiple chairs.”
Morning: “I usually start the day with the Aeron, which has an upright ergonomic seating position. It looks and feels premium, which mentally prepares me to put in my best work for the day.”
Evening: “By evening, I switch to the Staples Hyken chair, which is also ergonomic but also allows me to lean back comfortably or sit cross-legged. That gives a more relaxed position for gaming, movies, or light web surfing.”
Top Dual-Chair Setup Picks
Building a 2-chair workstation gives you the best of both worlds. Enjoy crisp posture support in a bladed seat during working hours. When it’s time to relax, loosen up in a chair with a flat seat.
Keep most of your sitting time in strict neutral positions. Then, shorter periods of looser sitting won’t be as detrimental.
Here are some of the best bladed and flat seat chairs to consider.
Best Bladed Seats
- Herman Miller Aeron: hard-ridged seats with mesh upholstery and fancy tilting features. Comes with a 12-year warranty. | $1645 from Herman Miller
- Noblechairs Epic: German-engineered racing-style chair. Comes with premium features, flayed edges, and a tapered seat. | $539.00 on Amazon
- Secretlab Omega 2020: the only Secretlab chair with a bladed seat and an external pillow. | $449-$524 from Secretlab
Best Luxury Ergonomic Flat Seats
Here are three of the most popular gaming chairs with flat seat styles:
- Herman Miller Embody: spacious fabric seat, the world’s most adaptive backrest, 12-year warranty. | $1845 from Herman Miller
- Secretlab Titan 2022 Series: advanced gaming chair available in 3 sizes and 43+ styles. Has a 4-way integrated lumbar, magnetic headrest, and 5-year warranty. | $549-$619 from Secretlab
- Sidiz T80 Ergonomic Chair: a cheaper alternative to the Embody. It has similar features, a lower price, and a 3-year warranty. | $799.00 on Amazon
My Version: Omega (Bladed) & Titan (Flat)
These days, I switch between a pair of Secretlab Titan Evo 2022 chairs 70% of the time. I love the perfect back support you can achieve in these chairs. I also love the flat, super-comfortable seat style.
However, I’ve found it tough to maintain good posture habits consistently. I blame stress. Anyone who sits full-time will inevitably face work-related stress.
In my case, when the pressure’s on, I tend to let my posture slide. Usually, that starts by putting one foot up while working. Once, I let things slide so far that my spine turned into a banana peel!
These days, when I find my posture starting to lag, my simple solution is to switch to my Omega chair. After a few days of use, it usually helps round my posture habits back into shape.
What Do Esports Doctors Recommend?
Recently, ChairsFX interviewed a trio of esports doctors about healthy sitting habits. All three insist that proper habits trump whichever type of chair you use.
Dr. Jordan Tsai provides therapy for elite teams like Cloud9, TSM, Evil Geniuses. He asks that all players he works with do strength and conditioning training for two hours every day. From his view, that will help computing performance more than any type of chair.
Dr. Elliot Smithson concurs. His clinic (1HP) works with G2, Team Liquid, 100 Thieves, and others. No matter your type of chair, he advises taking breaks every 45 minutes to stretch your body.
Finally, Dr. William Duncan works with both esports players and traditional athletes. He doesn’t care if your chair’s seat is flat or bladed. ” A chair alone cannot fix your issues. If you work on strength & endurance and use a good chair, this will … resolve the source of your symptoms and allow you to play longer.”
This article helps you prioritize comfort or posture support before buying your next chair. A flat gaming chair seat is more comfortable. But over the long term, one with bladed edges is better at supporting good posture.
Neither type provides the perfect solution for all cases. By having one chair of each type, you get the best of both worlds.
- With a tight budget: prioritize posture support. Buy a chair that has a bladed seat.
- With an unlimited budget & space: buy both a bladed and flat style chair.
- Part-time users: prioritize comfort. Buy a flat-seated chair to chill with semi-good posture.
- Kaja Kastelic, et al. ‘Sitting and low back disorders : an overview of the most commonly suggested harmful mechanisms’. Collegium Antropologicum 42(1):73-79, March 2018. Read abstract (accessed 20 Feb. 2022).
- Erin M. Friend, PT, DPT, CEAS, ‘Poor Posture And Its Effects On The Body’. National Spine Health Foundation, April 8, 2015. https://spinehealth.org/poor-posture-and-its-effects-on-the-body/, (accessed 19 Feb. 2022).
- Karen Angelo. ‘New Research Links Stress at Work to Unhealthy Lifestyles’, Umas Lowell, 2 Feb. 2016, https://www.uml.edu/news/stories/2016/workerstress.aspx, (accessed 19 Feb. 2022).
- Caroline Kamau, Ph.D et al. ‘Does Work Stress Make You Binge Eat?’, Nov. 18 2019, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/doctor-nurse-patient/201911/does-work-stress-make-you-binge-eat, (accessed 19 Feb. 2022).