After you purchase a gaming chair, it will be delivered to your house. After you crack open the big heavy box, you will find a user manual among the parts. Across all gaming chairs, provided user manuals are very thin. Expect to find promotional stuff with a bit of technical and warranty information.
In an age where people are engaging in too much screen-based sedentary time, education is needed to get the most out of a gaming chair investment. After using gaming chairs for 4+ years and writing about them extensively, ChairsFX feels well qualified to fill the gap.
The guide is applicable to all gaming chair brands covered on this website. It teaches you everything you need to know to get the most out of your gaming chair.
Screen-based sedentary time is the problem
Any chiropractor will tell you that a healthy spine is not straight. Rather, the optimal spinal alignment is with an S-shaped indent at the small of the back. Sitting with poor posture will turn the S-shaped indent into a straight line. This pushes the pelvis forward and causes the shoulders to sag.
How gaming chairs boost performance
In the image below, the user on the left is sitting in a regular office chair. The user on the left is sitting in a gaming chair, with optimal posture supported via neck and lumbar cushions.
When used correctly, a gaming chair will ensure healthy sitting posture for long hours of work, gaming or relaxing.
What is good posture?
Any chiropractor will tell you that a healthy spine is not straight, but with an S-shaped indent at the small of the back. Sitting with poor posture will turn the S-shaped indent into a straight line. This pushes the pelvis forward and causes the shoulders to sag.
How does good posture help?
To learn in detail about the long-term health benefits of gaming chairs, read our Gaming Chair Benefits article.
It explains what physiological changes will happen when you learn how to correctly use a gaming chair:
- Improved posture: he contoured backrest and support cushions keeps the spine, neck and shoulders in proper alignment
- Improved circulation: proper gaming chair use involves keeping your feet flat on the ground, which helps to distribute your body weight to take pressure off the back. With your feet laid flat, and your back in alignment, you will enjoy both better blood flow and deeper breathing.
- Reduced chronic pain: with the spine, neck and shoulders properly aligned, overworked muscles can relax against the chair's support
The sum of such changes is less energy wasted on posture misalignment, which means more energy available for work or play. In the long run, expect elevated moods, more energy and a greater sense of overall well-being.
Gaming Chair User Guide
Once you've un-boxed your chair and assembled it, it's a good idea to play around with the features. Follow these steps:
1. Adjust the height of the chair
First, adjust the height so that your feet are planted firmly on the ground. This is a crucial part of distributing weight evenly and taking pressure off your back. Resist the temptation to dangle your feet or cross your legs, as this hinders proper blood circulation.
2. Adjust the armrests
All gaming chairs come with height adjustable armrests. Some have 3D armrests, which move up, down, forward and backward. Premium chairs often have 4D armrests, which also move diagonally.
No matter which type your chair has, setting the height is most important. Ideally you want the set the armrest height so that it comfortably absorbs a portion of your body weight.
3. Set your reclining options
One of the most important features in a gaming chair is the multiple reclining options. Upon setting up your chair, focus on finding the most comfortable upright angle upright angle, somewhere around the 100 degree to 100 degree range.
Why to avoid sitting at 135 degrees
First, an important tip on how not to use your gaming chair.
An influential study conducted in 2006 concluded that the best recline is to 135 degrees, which supposedly causes the least amount of strain on the spine. This writer tried it, and found it delightfully easy on the back - but very hard on the neck.
This writer sat using the 135 degree method for 10 weeks. This was the result:
- First three weeks: delightfully comfortable and very easy on the back
- After one month: subtle neck stiffness
- After six weeks: neck and shoulders locked up, but back felt great.
- After eight weeks: horrific tightness in neck and shoulders. Since my back felt great I blamed my sleep, and wasted cash buying high-end ergonomic mattress and pillows - they didn't help.
- After 10 weeks: desperate for a solution and out of ideas, I finally figured out that my neck pain was caused by the 135 degree angle. Days after stopping, the pain vanished
Conclusion: do not bother using a gaming chair at a 135 degree recline - it will help your back but seriously hinder your neck and shoulders.
Gaming chair reclining guide
1. Using a gaming chair for work
With your feet planted firmly and the armrests comfortably bearing body weight, the ideal working position is at a slight recline to 100 or 100 degrees.
2. Using a gaming chair for relaxing
When watching movies, relaxing or casual gaming, dipping back to around 120 degrees works fine. However, if you stay in this position for too long, it will strain your neck and shoulders.
3. How to use the neck and lumbar cushions
When sitting in your gaming chair at a proper angle, check to make sure that the neck and lumbar cushions are supporting the natural curves of the spine.
After you buy your gaming chair, come back to this guide and follow the steps to ensure optimal use of your chair.
If you have poor posture, expect a painful transition while your body adjusts - this may take as long as a week. Avoid the temptation to slouch, sit at a good angle, and make sure the support cushions are properly positioned.
This will allow you to sit for long hours without harming your back, neck and shoulders. That said, remember to allow take plenty of breaks. Ideally add on hour of exercise per day to keep your body in perfect condition.