When looking to purchase an office chair online, more often than not you will end up finding yourself looking at the different options/mechanisms a chair comes with. To most of us, these additional options read like a foreign language and most of us have to take our best guess at what they could be unless you have a chair expert to speak to. As with any product, it is important to fully understand what your office chair is capable of in order to adjust the chair to fit your body and needs. At the time of purchase if you do not understand the importance of adding on specific features and neglect to do so, you may be disappointed when your chair does not fully meet all your expectations. When you sit in your new office chair for the first time you want to be fully prepared to be able to know how to use the mechanisms that came with your chair correctly.
Most value oriented task chairs or leather conference chairs come with a standard spring tilt mechanism, the least ergonomic option. Chairs that have a spring tilt mechanism go up and down, swivel, and have one locking position. A variation on these is the multi-lock mechanism, which goes up and down and swivels, but allow for multiple locking positions. The pivot point for these is found at the center of the chair, which explains why they are not ergonomic. If you recline on a chair that has this mechanism, the front of the seat reclines at the same rate as the backrest, thus it puts pressure on your thighs and limits the circulation of blood.
A multi-function mechanism is the epitome of a classic ergonomic mechanism. It is also known as a mid-pivot tilt mechanism, as the pivot point is in the center of the chair, but it has just enough to cross that threshold. To be considered multi-function, one of these mechanisms will have to have at least three paddles that do the following:
1. Control the height of the chair.
2. Lock the back rest at multiple angles.
3. Knee Tilt Control – allows the user to lock and adjust the angle the seat is.
Other features with these mechanisms usually include manual ratchet control for back height and a seat slider. The seat slider, however, is an add on for most mechanisms, and not built in.
The knee tilt promotes keeping your feet on the ground and thighs parallel to the ground when you recline, thus reducing the pressure on your thighs and achieving more blood flow – more blood flow means less yawning and less feeling fatigued throughout the day. A knee tilt mechanism will have height adjustment, tilt tension and be able to lock the back rest in multiple positions. The 2:1 synchro tilt option keeps your knees and legs in an ergonomically correct position while allowing you to comfortably recline. The ratio means for every 2 degrees of back recline, the seat reclines 1 degree, thus ensuring ergonomic comfort. Most of these mechanisms are sloped down and back, putting the attachment point of the mechanism and chair towards the front of the seat. The knee tilt allows for one’s feet to be grounded while leaning back instead of hanging in the air, which as we all know bad for your circulation and can lead to the uncomfortable sensation of having your leg fall asleep.
The type of mechanism you choose largely depends on the application you need the chair for. For quick tasking or conferencing purposes, where sitting is limited to around three hours or less at a time, simple spring tilt mechanisms suffice. Conversely, any seating application where sitting duration range from 6 to 8 hours a day, a knee tilt mechanism is highly recommended and preferred by most. While office chairs with knee tilt mechanisms generally tend to run a little higher in price, the ergonomic benefits that will result from using such a mechanism will become evident over time. With that being said, the next time you are searching for a new office chairs take all the aforementioned mechanisms into account to determine which will be best for your specific needs, and consider a multi-tilt mechanism if using your chair for more than three hours a day or for a more ergonomically correct way of seating.