Gaming chairs provide the tools to enjoy long periods of healthy sitting. But proper usage of a chair’s ergonomic features is essential for success. Many new gaming chair users struggle in the early going to find their comfort zone. This article makes it easy with video and written instructions. Learn how to sit in a gaming chair to supercharge health, wellness, and productivity.
The simple definition of ‘ergonomic’ is adjustable. The point of any ergonomic chair is to support users into dynamic neutral sitting positions. Proper adjustments in lumbar support, armrests, and backrest recline help make that happen.
This video covers everything you need to know in under five minutes:
The sections below break down the video’s main points in quick-skim format. Keep reading to master gaming chair neutral sitting fundamentals in a flash.
How to Sit In A Gaming Chair
The human body is not designed to sit for long periods. When standing with good posture, the lower back has a healthy curve of between 20-45 degrees.
Sitting without support reduces the curve by half. It also forces spinal muscles to hold the spine up against gravity. When back muscles tire, the curve completely flattens. That curls the spine into a slouch while tilting the hips forward.
Slouching for long periods forces back muscles to work much harder. Over time, that manifests as stiffness and pain in the back, neck, and shoulders.
Neutral Sitting Positions
What’s the healthiest way to sit for long periods? For the past two decades, ergonomists have reached a consensus. Over long periods, the healthiest way to sit is in dynamic neutral positions.
Following three steps makes it easy to sit up straight:
- Plant your feet firmly on the floor.
- Tuck your hips deep into the seat pan.
- Adjust your lumbar support to provide mild pressure to your lower back.
Neutral Posture Muscle Memory
Getting used to sitting this way relies on muscle memory. When you practice any skill, you force your brain to coordinate muscle movements.
The brain does so by using neurons to receive and send information. With repetition, neural pathways develop to perform tasks more efficiently.
In a gaming chair, it should take around 2-3 days to acclimatize to a neutral sitting style. Then, sitting this way becomes effortless.
Movement While Sitting
Humans are not designed to sit for long periods. Sitting in a neutral posture mitigates stress on the spine and surrounding muscles. Adding frequent position changes helps even further.
The dynamic sitting concept combines neutral postures with movement. Doing so engages back, leg, and abdominal muscles while you sit. That boosts blood flow and keeps muscle groups active.
Even small changes are enough to switch up active muscle groups. Over time, this helps users to develop a stronger core with improved circulation and no back pain.
Neutral Sitting Fundamentals
Beyond emphasizing neutral sitting, our tutorial video touches on key gaming chair adjustments. Here are the highlights:
Keep Feet Planted Flat On the Floor
Video timestamp: 0:50
The first step in a healthy neutral position is to keep feet planted firmly on the floor. This provides all of the power your back muscles need to hold the torso upright.
If used to dangling your feet or curling them under the seat, you’ll need practice and discipline. Expect around 2-3 days of effort for the habit to lock in as muscle memory.
If your desk is too high to sit with planted feet, add an ergonomic footrest. That will let you sit taller in your chair and reduce pressure on your thighs as you sit.
Another big benefit is that ergonomic footrests make it easy to move while you sit. Imagine the blood-boosting benefits of working your ankles and calves while you play video games!
Tuck Hips Deep Into The Seat
The fundamental problem when sitting without support is that the back flattens and the hips curl forward. When upgrading to a gaming chair, muscle memory causes many to continue sitting this way!
Break this habit by replacing it with a new one. Every time you sit down in your chair, make it a habit to tuck your hips as deep as possible into the seat.
That will keep your hips in a healthy alignment while you sit. It will also ensure that your spine makes optimal contact with the backrest. That’s where the posture magic happens!
Apply Lumbar Support
Video timestamp: 1:17
Based on the feedback we’ve received over the years, this is the part people struggle with the most. The trick is to position your lumbar support to fill your lower back curve.
Lumbar support set too low will curl your hips forward. Lumbar support set too high will encourage upper body slouching. Aim to adjust your lumbar several inches higher than the seat pan. References:
- Human Factors and Ergonomics Handbook: lumbar support should be 6-10 inches higher than the seat.
- Secretlab Titan 2020 Series: the integrated lumbar sits 6.7 inches higher than the seat
- Personal preference: I like my lumbar support around 7 inches higher than the seat.
An easy way to get a feel for your sweet spot is to try sitting with simple support. Use a rolled-up towel, yoga mat, or weightlifter’s belt to apply lumbar pressure while you sit.
With your feet planted, mild lower back pressure reflexively straightens the upper back. It also provides tactile information about your posture. If your body begins to curl into a slouch, lumbar pressure lowers. As soon as you feel that, it’s a reminder to straighten up.
Common Problem: Overly Fat Lumbar Pillow
Many gaming chairs come with stiff lumbar support pillows. Without breaking a new one in, it might not compress as you lean into it. That can leave a gap between your spine and the backrest.
Sitting with a gap will still help you to sit straight, but isn’t ideal. Without the gap, you can lean your entire spine and body weight against the backrest. Then, you’ll feel like you’re floating on air!
If using a conventional lumbar pillow, squish it down to make it more malleable. Ideally, it should compress enough to let your spine rest directly against the backrest.
Memory Foam Lumbar Pillow Upgrade
Cheaper gaming chairs stuff accompanying support pillows with low-grade material. An easy (and potent) upgrade is to a memory foam lumbar pillow. On Amazon, one of the most popular on Amazon is the Everlasting Comfort Pillow ($32.95).
The best support I’ve ever tried is Secretlab’s Omega lumbar pillow. It’s stuffed with high-quality memory foam. After six months of using it full-time, mine still looks and works like new.
As a bonus, Secretlab’s pillow works with all types of gaming chairs. There are no straps. In any type of chair, simply check it behind you, align it to fill your lumbar curve, and then lean back.
Available from Secretlab in North America, the EU and UK, Oceania, Singapore, and Malaysia.
Recline and Tilting Functionality
Most people need around 2-3 days to develop the muscle memory that turns neutral sitting a habit. While getting acclimatized, maintaining a limited recline range will help your body adjust daster. of between 100 to 115 degrees.
In my experience, between 100 to 115 degrees is the optimal range to support typing at a desk. Most ergonomic research agrees. For instance, this study suggests a baseline recline of 110 degrees with lumbar support 1.5″ (4 cm) deep. That produces produces an optimal seated lumbar curve of 47 degrees.
Bottom line: stick within the 100 to 115 degrees as you acclimatize to a neutral style.
Deeper recline angles
The big advantage of a gaming chair over an office chair is the recline. This Secretlab Titan vs Herman Miller Aeron clarifies the advantages of deep recline functionality. For upright working, it has no use. However, for relaxing, a deep recline is hard to beat.
When working from home, an Aeron will force you to sit upright at all times. In contrast, a Titan will support both work and play activities. When you need a break, pop the recline and relax.
- 105 degrees: crisp upright typing posture.
- 115-degree recline: good for passive deskwork (reading, casual browsing).
- 135-degree recline: ideal for watching movies or reading.
- 165-degree recline: good for napping.
Seat tilting functionality
Seat tilting functionality isn’t useful while mastering a neutral sitting technique. Rather, it’s a relaxation method that lets you work your hips.
Most cheap gaming chairs under $200 come with a standard tilting function. That lets you rock the seat bucket or lock it in place. Premium gaming chairs instead come with a multifunction tilt lock. Beyond rocking, it also lets you lock the seat at upward angles.
Look under the seat right away to see what a chair offers. A chair equipped with a multifunction device will have two levers under the seat instead of one.
Sitting with an upward-tilted seat changes the angle of your hips and knees and stretches your spine. It feels good, but also pulls you away from a desk. As such, it works best supporting passive tasks like reading or watching movies.
In brief, neutral postures minimize spinal and muscular strain. Dynamic neutral postures relieve fatigue, work core muscles, and boost circulation.
The following sections explain the physiological realities of healthy sitting in greater detail.
How gaming chairs boost productivity
Spending a few days forging neutral sitting habits can pay massive dividends. All you need to do is stick with the basics and wait for your muscles to get used to it. Then, you’ll be able to sit longer, feel better, and be a lot more productive.
Good posture boosts energy levels
When your spine is misaligned, muscles work harder to hold the body up against gravity. In contrast, sitting with good posture balances muscles. Then, they work more efficiently and consume a lot less energy.
That has a direct effect on productivity. Neurologist Roger Sperry famously noted that when the body is tired, brain functioning falters:
Better than 90 percent of the energy output of the brain is used in relating the physical body in its gravitational field. The more mechanically distorted a person is, the less energy available for thinking, metabolism, and healing.
Sitting with strained muscles leaves only 10% of a person’s energy for thinking, metabolism, and healing. Using a gaming chair lets you ‘hack’ this ratio.
Adjusting to a neutral sitting style will take massive pressure off of the back, neck, and shoulders. That delivers a surplus of energy to feed the brain.
More brain power supercharges productivity
Besides straining muscles, slouching compresses the rib cage. That reduces oxygen intake by up to 30%. With less oxygen, computational speed in the prefrontal cortex slows. That is why those with poor posture often suffer from brain fog and listlessness.
In contrast, a good sitting posture aligns the body in a relaxing position. With energy and oxygen levels on-point, higher levels of brain activity kick in.
The bottom line is that when people are rested and comfortable, they perform better. Thus, using a gaming chair correctly will yield these benefits:
- More energy and brainpower: an aligned body doesn’t need to work as hard. As a result, the brain gets more power to play with. That enhances cognitive functioning.
- Fewer headaches: good posture reduces neck and shoulder tension (the source of migraines).
- Reduced muscle strain: misaligned postures force the muscles to work harder. Proper alignment reduces that strain.
- More oxygen: good sitting posture opens the chest cavity and increases oxygen intake.
- Better digestion: slouching compresses organs. That slows down the passage of waste.
Learn more about productivity-boosting benefits below:
Beyond our video guide, we also have a step-by-step written guide. Here are the steps:
- Adjust the seat height so the knees bend at 90 degrees. At the same time, feet should plant firmly on the floor.
- Tuck your hips deep into the seat of your chair. This ensures proper contact with a chair’s lumbar support.
- Sync the armrests with your desk height. If the desk is too high, add an ergonomic footrest.
- Adjust the height of your lumbar support to comfortably fill your lower back curve.
- Use the recline or rocking function to keep your body moving. Avoid sitting in fixed, rigid positions.
Avoid crossing your legs, dangling your legs, or scooting your hips forward. After a few days of practice, your body will adapt to sitting this way.
Then, you can sit comfortably for long periods without health issues or fatigue. If you need more help, check this tutorial:
Peer-reviewed guidelines for healthy sitting
We’ve already documented the most relevant peer-reviewed studies on healthy sitting science. Below is a super-condensed summary:
Seeking the optimal posture of the seated lumbar spine
This 2001 paper reviewed existing posture studies and reached a firm conclusion. (source)
A lordosed seated posture, regularly interspersed with movement, is the optimal sitting posture to maintain lumbar postural health and prevent low back pain.
It highlights lumbar support and a reclining backrest as essential ergonomic supports.
- When standing, a healthy lumbar curve has an angle of 20-45 degrees. Sitting without support reduces the curve by around 50%.
- Lumbar support decreases disc pressure and reduces lower back pain.
- Sitting in a 110° recline with lumbar support 4 cm deep produces a lumbar curve angle of 47 degrees. This is ideal.
Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics
The fourth edition of The Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics came out in 2012.
This book is the reference for ergonomic researchers, graduate students, and product designers.
Each chapter posts clear concepts backed by hard science useful for real-world applications. On Amazon, this edition is priced like a textbook for $310.03.
Here are the key ergonomic bits we’ve condensed from the book:
- Adjustable seat height: adjust so that the feet rest flat on the floor (not dangling). If the operator is too short, add a footrest.
- Seat depth: the seat should be deep enough so the user can sit far enough back to use the backrest. At the same time, it should be short enough to not put pressure on the back of the knees.
- Backrest height: the backrest provides back support in various postures. For full support, the top of any ergonomic backrest should be at least 18″ higher than the compressed seat height.
- Lumbar support: this maintains a natural curve in the lower spine. The lumbar support area of the backrest should be roughly 6-10 inches (15-25 cm) above the seat height.
- Backrest angle: using a variety of recline angles reduces fatigue. An ergonomic backrest should recline to at least 115 degrees.
- Armrest height: armrests set to the right height provide crucial support for the neck and shoulders. Armrests should be height adjustable with an adjustment range of at least 4 inches (10 cm).
Summary of studies
For long periods, neutral sitting postures are ideal. To support those, an ergonomic chair needs three adjustable components.
Small adjustments in your lumbar support, armrests, or backrest recline can make a huge difference. Learn more about these and other ergonomic studies from Cornell, BIFMA, etc:
Best ergonomic chairs for your back
Any chair with adjustable lumbar, adjustable armrests, and a reclining backrest qualifies as ‘ergonomic’. Proper neutral sitting techniques are more important than the type of chair.
Even so, there are some clear standouts in the seating industry. Among racing-style gaming chairs, the Secretlab Titan 2022 Series is well ahead of the competition. Among ergonomic office chairs, the Aeron also serves as the gold standard of its genre.
Despite a huge price disparity, both offer merits when compared head-to-head. The Aeron is easier to use. In comparison, when working from home, the Titan offers more versatility.
Beyond the industry leaders is a range of specialty gaming chairs for small, large, and budget users.
Herman Miller Aeron
If you want the easiest entry into neutral sitting, the Herman Miller Aeron is the clear front-runner. Once you set the seat height and lumbar support, this chair will keep you locked in perfect posture at all times!
Several aspects stand out. For one thing, it’s the only chair on the market offering lumbar and sacral support in one unit. You can slide the Aeron’s PostureFit unit up and down and adjust the depth of both the lumbar and sacral pads. That supports your lower back curve while also keeping the hips in alignment.
Supporting the PostureFit is the world’s most adaptive mesh upholstery. 8Z pellicle mesh has eight zones of tension that adapt to micromovements to keep users perfectly balanced at all times.
It’s one of the most expensive chairs available, but also one of the few with a 12-year warranty. Summary of features:
- Synchro-tilt: seat pan angle -1° to 16°; backrest 93° to 104°
- Upholstery: Pellicle 8Z mesh provides eight zones of varying tension for ultra-responsive support..
- Seat: adjust the height; limit the tilt range; adjust the tilt tension; sync-tilt with the backrest.
- Backrest: forward tilt option; height and depth adjustable PostureFit lumbar support.
- Armrests: 3D adjustable.
- Warranty: 12 years.
Learn more: Top-5 Herman Miller Ergonomic Task Chairs.
Secretlab Titan 2022 Series
Secretlab’s latest iteration stacks up well with the Aeron chair. It also comes in three sizes with a range of industry-leading features. First, all small, medium, and XL models come in a growing collection of 30+ designs.
Second, Titan gaming chairs now come with the world’s most advanced integrated lumbar support system. Other versions only let you adjust the depth. In contrast, Titan chairs add height adjustment control as well.
Laid over the top is a matrix of 63 hinges that flex in response to a user’s micromovements. Beyond the lumbar, Titan chairs also now feature a strapless headrest pillow.
The pillow uses magnets instead of straps. That provides a greater adjustment range and a much cleaner look. Other highlights:
- Functionality: 4D armrests; multifunction tilt-lock; recline from 85-165°.
- New 2022 Series Features: integrated 3D-adjustable lumbar support; magnetic headrest pillow; pebble seat base with waterfall edge.
- Sizing: small 4’11” to 5’6″; medium 5’7″ to 6’2″; XL 5’11” to 6’9″.
- Warranty: five years.
The Titan is cheaper than the Aeron, and also more versatile. On the downside, it doesn’t force you to sit straight as the Aeron does. As a result, you’ll need a bit more discipline to master neutral sitting tactics.
|Titan EVO 2022 Series||Hybrid Leatherette NEW||Softweave Plus NEW|
Learn more in this Titan 2022 Series Gaming Chair Review.
Speciality gaming chairs
If you want the easiest entry to neutral posture techniques, the Aeron is unparalleled. Secretlab’s Titan takes a bit more discipline to master but works just as well. Beyond the gold standards, you can find the best gaming chair for your needs based on either price or size.
Best desk chairs by price
ChairsFX has reviewed the best chair collections across all price ranges:
- Cheap gaming chairs under $200: slim-fitting models with 2D arms and conventional tilt.
- Affordable Gaming Chairs $200-$300: 4D armrests; multifunction tilt; 1-year warranty.
- Premium Gaming Chairs Over $300: 4D armrests; multifunction tilt; 2-5 year warranty.
- High-end Task Chairs ($600-$1200): sync-tilt, 12-year warranty, luxury features.
Best desk chairs by size
If money is no object, choose the right size of gaming chair to ensure the best results. ChairsFX size-based ratings include a mix of premium, affordable, and luxury options.
- Ergonomic chairs for kids aged 3-12: specialty chairs to forge neutral sitting habits early.
- Small Gaming Chairs: for sizes 4’9″ (age 12) and up.
- Cheap gaming chairs with wide seats: chairs under $250 for short, thick sizes.
- Big and Tall Gaming Chairs: super-heavyweight support for up to 550 pounds.
- Big and Tall Office Chairs: cheap ergonomic office chairs with ultra-wide seats.
To find the right model, choose a price or sizing range and check out our top-rated picks.
Using a Gaming Chair For Posture Therapy
One way to address poor posture is through physiotherapy. Posture correction physiotherapy uses movement exercises, physical therapy, education, and advice. Usually, it takes around 6-12 weeks of therapy to achieve results.
In my experience, a gaming chair can also correct posture in a way that’s faster and easier. As an example, the conclusion of the video outlines my own 5-year experience using gaming chairs. Here’s how I filled physiotherapy objectives by sitting at home in front of my computer:
|Posture physiotherapy objectives||Reason for objective||Gaming chair posture therapy|
|Normal muscle length||Tight muscles curl the spine into a 'c' shape.||Sitting for long periods in a neutral posture will loosen muscles.|
|Core muscle strength||Stronger core muscles make it easier to maintain good posture.||Using seat tilt angles works hips and stomach muscles.|
|Muscular endurance||Postural muscles must work for long periods every day. Without endurance, the back can wilt into a slouch.||Regular movement keeps muscles active and engaged.|
|Improve spatial awareness||Therapists provide verbal and visual feedback to 'coach' patients into better habits.||Use the tactile sensation of the pillows to gauge your positioning.|
If you suffer from poor posture, back pain, or lethargy, physiotherapy can help with around 2-4 months of therapy. Alternatively, pick up a gaming chair and follow the steps in this guide.
After around a week of full-time sitting, you should start seeing results. Looking for changes in this order:
- Back pain vanishes.
- You’re able to sit for longer periods without discomfort.
- Instead of feeling tired, sitting in your gaming chair delivers an energizing effect.
- Hours pass by in a blur of high-octane productivity.
- Out of the chair, you stand taller without trying to.
This article explains how to improve posture by playing video games. Any chair with an adjustable lumbar, armrests, and backrest can provide the support you need.
Choose the right model for you based on size, budget and aesthetic preferences. No matter which type of chair you buy, maintaining neutral postures is the key to success.