Every type of ergonomic chair comes with three essential features. These are adjustable lumbar support and armrests, plus a reclining backrest. Combined, these support users into neutral sitting postures. Neutral postures relieve stress on the spine and surrounding muscles. As a result, users enjoy long periods of comfortable sitting. With less energy burned by muscles, the brain gets more to play with. Learn how to sit in a gaming chair to boost health, happiness, and productivity.
Every ergonomic chair on the market is designed to support healthy neutral sitting positions. When done right, these result in a 25-45° lower back curve and 0° neck tilt.
Those numbers align your spine as if it were in a healthy standing position. Then, the musculoskeletal system works at peak efficiency to hold the body up against gravity.
Users who master this technique gain many benefits. First, they’ll be able to sit for long periods without discomfort. Second, with less muscle strain, they’ll gain more energy for other uses.
Third, excess energy stimulates the brain. As a result, users also enjoy sharper focus while computing. To cash in on these benefits, follow these steps:
- Adjust your seat height so you can plant your feet firmly on the floor.
- Tuck your hips as deeply as possible into the seat.
- Adjust your lumbar support to apply mild pressure to your lower back curve.
- Rest your forearms on the armrests.
- Push up with your forearms until your back is straight.
This video puts everything together with some extra tips to manage your recline angles:
This video puts all steps together in less than 5 minutes:
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
The first step to healthy sitting in a gaming chair is to adjust your seat height. Set it so that you can keep your 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 that 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
Based on the feedback we’ve received over the years, this is the part people struggle with the most. Most people make the mistake of setting their lumbar pillow too low or too high.
In both cases, those positions will curl the hips forward and curl the upper spine. 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.
The textbook definition suggests you place your lumbar support around 4 cm deep into the lower back curve. But at what height? A fully-grown adult spine averages 30″ long for men and 24″ long for women.
To reach the lower back curve, an average man should position his lumbar support around 7.5″ above the seat. In comparison, an average-sized woman should set her support around 5.5 higher than the seat. Learn more about the technicals:
Best Lumbar Support Types
In 2022, ergonomic chair shoppers have several types of lumbar support systems to consider:
|Height x Depth Adjustable||Most precise support type||Tricky for some beginners to figure out|
|Height-adjustable||No depth-adjustability means less precision||Easier to use than 4-way systems|
|External memory Foam Pillows||Super-easy to use and effective||Needs constant readjusting|
|Gaming chair pillow||Cheap and effective||Tricky for ergonomic beginners to master|
Get a closer look at the pros and cons of each type (plus some gimmicks to avoid):
Recline and Tilting Functionality
Based on updated 2022 ergonomic parameters, these are the key recline angles that health-conscious desk workers should be using:
- 100°: ensures good back support and a straight neck. Best for intensive deskwork.
- 110-120° recline: delivers a more relaxed posture with a slight rearward neck tilt. Good for casual gaming or web browsing.
- 135° or deeper: for napping, resting, and non-computing tasks.
Updated Institutional Ergonomic Standards
Ergonomic standards were recently updated at the institutional level. Since the early 1990s, the focus had been on providing good back support to desk-bound PC users.
However, the average person now spends around 3 hours daily using a cell phone(1). Most do so with a sharp forward head tilt.
Recently, while researching the harmful effects of Text Neck Syndrome, I was shocked to discover myself a victim of it!
With the help of three famous esports doctors, I was able to address this condition using a Secretlab Titan 2022 Series chair.
The trick: tuck your hips, plant your feet, adjust the lumbar, and set the backrest recline to 100° degrees. Then, the Titan provides the same level of biomechanically-precise support as a $1700 Herman Miller Embody!
Deeper recline angles
A sharp 100° backrest recline supports a 0° neck tilt. Even so, most people tend to use their gaming chairs with a relaxed 110-120° recline. This creates a slight loss of postural accuracy plus a mild rearward head tilt.
Despite the loss of postural integrity, deeper gaming chair reclines are insanely comfortable. While working from home, this delivers all-day support for a range of activities. Beyond upright deskwork, users can also kick back for casual computing or even napping!
The problem: using deeper, less posturally-accurate positions too often can degrade your posture. The body adapts to the positions it holds most often. By sitting willy-nilly too often, a gaming chair might cause pain instead of support!
Luckily, since the body adapts to frequently-held postures, it’s possible to fix pain issues using a postural reset. That means forcing yourself to sit in strict upright postures for 2-3 days until new muscle memories develop. Learn more:
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.
This article is a condensed version of our detailed Gaming Chair User Guide. Both versions have the same point: when people are rested and comfortable, they perform better.
Reducing stress on the musculoskeletal system eliminates the negative effects of unsupported sitting. These include back and neck pain, lethargy, depression, weight gain, and serious diseases like hypertension.
As a result, the benefits of using good sitting techniques in a gaming chair are mainly corrective. By reversing the problems caused by slouching, these benefits emerge:
- 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.
The only question left: is a full-back gaming chair the best option for your needs? Full-back gaming chairs provide better all-day sitting support.
In contrast, mid-back office chairs (without headrests) provide better back and neck support. If you don’t mind being forced to sit upright at all times, a mid-back ergonomic office chair is worth looking into.
Full-back gaming chair or mid-back ergonomic office chair? Both support healthy neutral sitting postures. The ‘best’ type depends on your sitting and support preferences. Check this feature if you need help choosing the best type for your particular needs:
- Pablo Robles. ‘Why your smartphone is causing you text neck syndrome’. January 25, 2019. https://multimedia.scmp.com/lifestyle/article/2183329/text-neck/index.html, (accessed 10 April 2022).