Improve your home office, and your health, with our selection of the best office chairs for back pain
Around one in three UK adults suffer from some sort of back pain, which can often be caused, or at least exacerbated, by bad sitting habits. One actionable way to curb this discomfort is to invest in the best office chair for back pain that you can find. In today’s working environment, this is arguably more crucial than ever, with around 38% of UK workers currently hybrid working (according to statistics from spring 2022), and 80% of UK office workers spending four to nine hours a day seated (2018 statistics). Picking the chairs for this list, we focussed mainly on comfort, support and adjustability, while also considering style and value for money.
If you have any questions or queries, our handy buying guide below will take you through everything you’ll need to know when buying your new chair. We’ve also included some posture and back pain relief advice from physiotherapist Gary Jones, clinic director at Physio 206. Below the buying guide, you’ll find mini-reviews of our favourite chairs, where we break down their comparative strengths and different features.
If you’re looking to fully kit out your work-from-home space or home office, then check out our Remote Working Awards page, where we’ve selected our favourite office chairs, webcams, laptops, ergonomic mice, keyboards and more, with all our selections tailored for remote work.
How to choose the best office chair for back pain
How do I curb back pain while working in an office chair?
While a more comfortable, well-designed chair will certainly be nicer to sit in throughout the day, alone it cannot provide a true solution to backache and similar issues. Physiotherapist and clinic director of Physio 206, Gary Jones, has the following advice: “Firstly, I’d like to point out that there is no such thing as a good or bad posture. Whether you sit in a slumped or upright position for a long period of time you may get some stiffness or discomfort in your back. If you take one thing away from this article it’s these 6 simple words: Your Back Is Designed to Move!
“Posture is a dynamic thing and you should be regularly moving your body throughout the day to help promote more positive spinal health. A great tip for all those working in an office or working from home is to set an alarm on your phone that goes off every 30-45 minutes, to remind you to move your body. Whether it’s rotating your neck and upper body from side to side, or perhaps sitting up and slumping down from the lower back to simply getting up off the chair and walking around the room. Several studies have shown that ideally, you should change position 40 times per day at work.”
What back support should I take into account when buying an office chair?
Our general advice is that purchasing a well-built, comfortable chair with plenty of adjustability will give you access to a wider range of comfortable positions to shift between throughout the day, and help you follow the advice given above. However, once again, we’re happy to hand things over to Gary for a professional opinion:
“If you are currently experiencing back pain, there may be some things to look at when considering purchasing a chair. For example, if your back pain is worse when sitting, maybe find an adjustable lumbar support that can be moved between your lower back and below the thoracic spine (i.e between the upper and mid part of your back) at the base of your rib cage. This will encourage the lumbar spine (lower back) to go into the movements of flexion and extension (the two movements you do when you bend forwards and arch backwards with your lower back).
“Another thing to consider when you purchase a chair is what your natural resting posture is when sitting or standing. We see several common posture types in the general population. If you have a more pronounced curve in the lower part of your back, then having a more prominent lumbar support may not be of benefit. Whereas if you have quite a ‘flat’ lower back having a lumbar support may be helpful. I would suggest seeking advice from a recognised health care professional such as a physiotherapist to assess your back pain first before deciding on whether a more bespoke type of chair would potentially be of benefit.”
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Is there a particular set-up that you would recommend for sitting comfortably throughout the day?
While stressing that regular movement and lifestyle factors like exercise, nutrition, hydration, and sleep are the most important ways to keep your spine healthy, Gary did have this advice to share:
“There have been some simple suggested things you can measure at your own workstation set up that may help to set you up in a more ergonomically efficient position. Check these out by answering the following questions:
- Is the top 20% of your screen level with your eye line when sitting comfortably without you needing to tilt your head up or down to look at the screen?
- As you are sat (or stood if using a standing desk) is your screen at arms reach from you?
- Do your shoulders and elbows sit approximately at 90 degrees as you type?
- As you sit comfortably in your chair do your hips sit slightly above your knees as you look down?
- Are your feet in contact with the floor?
If the answer is no to any of the above questions then being able to adjust the seat depth, tilt of the chair, seat height, arm rest position etc would potentially be helpful.”
How much will I need to spend?
Our go-to advice for buying an office chair is to get the best model you can afford, and when it comes to alleviating back pain, that rings doubly true. While there are comfortable and well-built chairs at most price points, it’s simply the case that more expensive chairs will have superior build quality compared to cheaper chairs.
That said, you don’t necessarily have to pay the four-figure prices that some designer chairs call for, just to be comfortable – although you likely will be if you do. Ultimately, our list below aims to showcase the most comfortable and functional chairs available, with options to suit a range of budgets.
How we test office chairs
All of the office chairs reviewed below have been tested by us, either at home or in our London office. We sit in them as we go about our work, taking into account a number of important factors.
These include ergonomics, how adjustable the chair is, and any extra features such as headrests or adjustable lumbar support – all of which will have an impact on how comfortable the chair is to sit in. When it comes to recommending an office chair for back pain, adjustability and lumbar support are particularly important, and the chairs we’ve chosen to feature below highlight this.
Beyond the most important criteria, we also take note of how breathable the chair’s material is (is it comfortable to sit in throughout an entire working day or is your back left feeling hot and clammy before lunchtime?) as well as value for money: you can spend an awful lot on a chair, but you won’t usually need to break the bank to get a comfortable option for your home office.
READ NEXT: The best office chairs to buy
The best office chair for back pain to buy in 2024
1. Sihoo M18 Ergonomic Home Office Chair: Best value office chair for back pain
Design-wise, the chair looks smart and stylish, made from hard plastic and sturdy aluminium alloy, and has an ergonomically shaped seat and a curved mesh backrest to help maintain good posture and breathability. For a chair under £300, you get an impressive array of adjustable features, including seat height, headrest, armrests, back tilt and lumbar support. Available paid extras include ‘upgraded rollerblade wheels’ and an adjustable foot rest.
Key details – Width: 70m; Seat height: 43-53cm; Total height: 130cm; Warranty: 3 year guarantee
2. HAG Capisco Puls 8010: Best office chair for encouraging movement
Price when reviewed: £449 | Check price at WellWorkingWhile the other chairs on this list provide excellent comfort, the Capisco is a great choice if you need a chair to encourage correct posture and healthy movement throughout the day. The scooped out plastic seat base draws your thighs forward naturally, bringing your weight onto your feet and lower pelvis, while your spine is supported and held to posture by the gently curved backrest. The chair’s reversible design allows you to sit regularly, or swivel the chair round and sit saddle-style, using the T-shaped back as an armrest, which can help if your back tends to ache from sitting in one position for long periods.
In terms of adjustability, the Capisco has 200mm gas lift, making it suitable for traditional desks, standing desks and bar tables, as well as controls for seat height and depth, dynamic tilt and an adjustable backrest.
As with the Sayl featured above, the Capisco also has a build your own chair page. Hereyou can customise your new office chair, choosing between three heights of pneumatic lift, different saddle seats, footrings and headrests, as well as colour and upholstery options. Whatever back pain ails you, you should be able to find a Capisco build to let you sit and work comfortably.
Key details – Width: 560mm; Seat height: 48.5-66cm (200mm gaslift); Total height: 88.5–116cm; Warranty: 10 years
3. Herman Miller Sayl: Best office chair for style and comfort
Price when reviewed: £549 | Check price at WellWorkingAn eye-catching piece of office furniture, the Herman Miller Sayl was conceived by Swiss industrial designer Yves Behar. Behar drew inspiration for its unframed curved backrest and mesh-webbing from suspension bridges, particularly the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco: a neat anecdote to have on hand for when you want to segue into telling people about your swanky new chair. At around £550, it’s firmly in the upper mid-range for office chairs, price-wise. But in terms of Herman Miller’s offerings, the Sayl is a relatively affordable model.
While it may look like form over function, the mesh backrest’s appearance belies its comfortable and supportive feel, while also tending to feel less clammy than standard backrests. In terms of adjustability, the chair offers controls for seat height, seat depth, tilt tension, tilt limiter, back tilt, as well as a forward tilt feature that’s particularly suited to finding comfort when using a laptop. Extra features, such as lumbar support and armrest customisation, as well as customisable colours, can be added on via the build your own Sayl page, with accompanying price increases.
Read our full-length Herman Miller Sayl review
Key details – Width: 62cm; Seat height: 42-56cm; Total height: 86–104cm; Warranty: 12 years
4. Herman Miller Aeron: Best office chair money can buy
Price when reviewed: £1,399 | Check price at WellWorkingIf you’d like to get all the back support you need, as well as a statement piece for your home office, then the Herman Miller Aeron might be just the office chair for you. Originally released in 1994 (and remastered in 2016), the Aeron’s classic-yet-striking design, high build quality, and appearances in popular culture have cemented its status as one of the most iconic pieces of modern American furniture. It even has a home in the permanent collection at MoMA. So, while you eye that substantial price tag, you may want to look at it like you’re buying a piece of art, albeit a highly practical one.
On the subject of said practicalities, the Aeron has plenty to offer in terms of spinal support and comfort. Firstly, the chair feels sturdy to sit on, with a seat and backrest made from breathable mesh fabric, and armrests made from soft vinyl (with the option to upgrade to leather pads for an additional £95). Important for back comfort, the Aeron also has a wide range of well-engineered adjustable settings, which include: seat height, seat depth, backrest tilt, tilt tension, adjustable arms and the chair’s unique “PostureFitSL,” which allows you to set the tightness of the chair’s spinal support. All in all, with a little fiddling and testing, you’ll be able to find a highly comfortable and supportive position to keep your spine well-aligned and pain-free throughout the day.
Read our full-length Herman Miller Aeron review
Key details – Width: 63/66.6/68cm; Seat height: 41-57cm; Total height: 97/110/119cm; Warranty: 12yrs parts guarantee
Also consider: Herman Miller Mirra 2
Like the Aeron, the Mirra 2 is an aesthetically pleasing chair with plenty of adjustability, boasting fully adjustable armrests, lumbar support, and controls for seat height and depth, backrest tilt, tilt limiting, tilt tension, and forward tilt. While it doesn’t quite offer the same levels of comfort and support as the Aeron, the Mirra 2 comes very close, and does so for a lot less. While the Aeron comfortably breaks the four-figure mark, the Mirra 2 tends to retail for around £850, often dropping lower than that during sales periods. If you’re on the lookout for a chair that really pops, you should check the different colours of Mirra 2 available, which include dark turquoise, cappuccino, and lime green.