July 4, 2008
In A Developer's Second Most Important Asset, I described how buying a quality chair may be one of the smartest investments you can make as a software developer.
In fact, after browsing chairs for the last few years of my career, I've come to one conclusion: you can't expect to get a decent chair for less than $500. If you are spending less than that on seating – unless you are getting the deal of the century on dot-bomb bankruptcy auctions – you're probably making a mistake.
I still believe this to be true, and I urge any programmers reading this to seriously consider the value of what you're sitting in while you're on the job. In our profession, seating matters:
- Chairs are a primary part of the programming experience. Eight hours a day, every day, for the rest of your working life – you're sitting in one. Like it or not, whatever you're sitting in has a measurable impact on your work experience.
- Cheap chairs suck. Maybe I've become spoiled, but I have yet to sit in a single good, cheap chair. In my experience, the difference between the really great chairs and the cheap stuff is enormous. A quality chair is so comfortable and accommodating it effortlessly melts into the background, so you can focus on your work. A cheesy, cheap chair constantly reminds you how many hours of work you have left.
- Chairs last. As I write this, I'm still sitting my original Aeron chair, which I purchased in 1998. I can't think of any other piece of equipment I use in my job that has lasted me ten full years and beyond. While the initial sticker shock of a quality chair may turn you off, try to mentally amortize that cost across the next ten years or more.
Choice of seating is as fundamental and constant as it gets in a programming career otherwise marked by relentless change. They are long term investments. Why not take the same care and consideration in selecting a chair as you would with the other strategic directions that you'll carry with you for the rest of your career? Skimping yourself on a chair just doesn't make sense.
Although I've been quite happy with my Herman Miller Aeron chair over the last 10 years, I've always been a little disenchanted with the way it became associated with dot-com excess:
In the '90s, the Aeron became an emblem of the dot-com boom; it symbolized mobility, speed, efficiency, and 24/seven work weeks. The Aeron was a must-have for hot startups precisely because it looked the least like office furniture: It was more like a piece of machinery or unadorned engineering. The black Pellide webbing was durable, and hid whatever Jolt or Red Bull stains you might get on it. Held taut by an aluminum frame, the mesh allowed air to circulate and kept your body cool. What's more, the chair came in three sizes, like a personalized tool. Assorted knobs and levers allowed you to adjust the seat height, tilt tension, tilt range, forward tilt, arm height, arm width, arm angle, lumbar depth, and lumbar height. The Aeron was high-tech but sexy – which was how the dot-commers saw themselves.
But baby-faced CEOs weren't drawn to the Aeron only for the way it looked. The Aeron was a visual expression of the anti-corporate zeitgeist, a non-hierarchical philosophy about the workplace. An office full of Aerons implicitly rejected the Fortune 500, coat-and-tie, brick-and-mortar model in which the boss sinks back in an overpriced, oversized, leather dinosaur while his secretary perches on an Office Max toadstool taking notes.
I recently had the opportunity to sit in a newer Herman Miller Mirra chair on a trip, and I was surprised how much more comfortable it felt than my classic Aeron.
The Mirra chair was an excellent recliner, too. I've been disappointed by how poorly the Aeron reclines. I actually broke my Aeron's recline pin once and had to replace it myself. So I've retrained myself not to recline, which is awkward, as I'm a natural recliner.
All this made me wonder if I should retire my Aeron and upgrade to something better. I liked the Mirra, but the comments to my original chair post have a lot of other good seating suggestions, too. Here are pictures and links to the chairs that were most frequently mentioned as contenders, in addition to the Mirra and Aeron pictured above:
Steelcase Think Chair
Steelcase Leap Chair
Ergohuman Mesh Chair
HumanScale Freedom Chair
HumanScale Liberty Chair
There were also some lesser known recommendations, such as the Haworth Zody chair, Nightingale CXO chair, BodyBilt ergo chairs, Hag kneeling chair, NeutralPosture ergo, the Chadwick Chair from the original designer of the Aeron, and something called the swopper.
Chair fit is, of course, a subjective thing. If you're investing $500+ in a chair, you'd understandably want to be sure it's "the one". The thing to do is find a local store that sells all these chairs and try them all out. Well, good luck with that. Don't even bother with your local big-box office supply chain. Your best bet seems to be back stores, as they tend to stock many of the more exotic chairs. Apparently they have a clientele of people who are willing to spend for comfort.
Reviews of individual chairs are relatively easy to find, but aren't particularly helpful in isolation. What we need is a multi-chair review roundup. The only notable roundup I know of is Slate's late 2005 Sit Happens: The Search for the Best Desk Chair. It's not as comprehensive as I would like, but it does have most of the main contenders. Notably, Slate's winner was the HumanScale Liberty.
Some other helpful resources I've found, both in the comments to this post, and elsewhere:
If this is all a bit too much furniture porn for your tastes, I understand. As for me, I'm headed off to my local friendly neighborhood back store to figure out which of these chairs will best replace my aging Aeron. By my calculations, the Aeron cost me about $7 per month over its ten year lifetime; I figure my continued health and comfort while programming are worth at least that much.
Update: Since people have been asking, I ultimately decided the best fit and feel for me, personally, was the Herman Miller Mirra chair. It's a huge upgrade from my ten year old Aeron. It feels like three or four revisions better. For example, the front lip of the seat is adjustable, which addresses one of the major concerns I had with my Aeron – as well as the vastly improved reclining I mentioned above. The only unexpected downside is that the plastic back is a little rough on the skin if you sit, er... shirtless. Although I am very pleased with my new shadow Mirra with citron back (pic), I urge you to do the research and try the chairs yourself before deciding.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
Jeff, I don’t know which I disagree more with: the topic of this post or its conclusion.
First, as Achille and others point out, programming is probably the least physically demanding job ever, except probably for lying on your back dictating your memoirs. I’ve held no small share of manual-labor-type jobs (including 7 years of archaeological fieldwork) ... all of which produce in a day more repetitive strain injuries than weeks of hardcore keyboarding.
Which I suppose is a reverse-elitist way of saying: if you can write 1000 words (and 7 pictures) about what you sit on, you’ve officially run out of things to complain about.
Second, as Bernhard, alm and others point out, if your back hurts from sitting, YOU’RE SITTING WRONG. Human beings aren’t built to sit in one place for eight hours, we’re built to walk 20 miles a day in the tropical sun. Sitting is an active process involving your core muscles, and chairs like these promote the atrophy of those muscles. You know, the ones they call your CORE. An hour of yoga every other day will do more for your back and wrists than a $500 chair.
I have a textbook “bad back” and after eight hours in a getup like an Aeron I can barely stand. I prefer a kneeling chair, stool, hardback (read: dining room) chair, or cross-legged on the plain old floor.
Finally: it’s a poor craftsman who blames his tools.
Jeff -- You have an open invitation if you are ever in Grand Rapids to go to Steelcase and Herman Miller. Both are home here in GR and I have some contacts that can get us to tour and see the facilities. Steelcase has a very cool facility where they show off the newest innovations in workspace design. Very cool place to tour.
Also there is a Steelcase employee-only store where they have chairs coming off leases that can be bought for a lot less than new. The chairs are refurbished and most are in quite good shape.
programming is probably the least physically demanding job ever
Yes, but so? I would be willing to wager that in 20 years or so we will be seeing an epidemic of professionals who work at computers all day (not just programmers) that are practically crippled. Physical labor may be painful and demanding and carry risk of injury, but that doesn't mean that sitting at a desk 40 - 80 hours per week for 30 years is easy on the body.
Why the need to sneer at programmers because they sit while they do their job? Can't both kinds of work have long term negative effects?
Where can I get these chairs in the Greater Toronto Area?
Would you people please just stop talking about how this blog is deteriorating and suppress your need to whine? If you don't like the subject matter of the post, don't read it. If you don't like the direction the blog is going, go find a new blog to read. I don't care about your juvenile whining and complaining and it bothers me when I have to waste time reading unproductive comments such as that. Go tell it to your parents or your teacher you whiny infants.
Back on topic, I find that even in my chair at my office it doesn't seem to affect my back as long as I take the time throughout the day to get up and take a 5-10 minute walk to the water fountain or something, and stretch a little. Is there store I can go to and try sitting in one so I can see what all the fuss is about?
I own the ergohuman in leather and have very little complaints. As far as good chairs, just make sure to get one with lots of adjustments.
Wow - some of the comments amuse me - I used to buy inexpensive chairs for my computer desk and then I got a serious job at a major telecom and they had $1200 chairs and was spoiled forever. I was so impressed with the chairs, when I left and started working from home, I got chairs for everyone in the house who sits at a computer. I found a few used locations that carry the chairs and I got them for $150 each (and they retail for $400 not the same as the telecom, but still, very nice)
Now, the only people in the house who sit on regular chairs are the children (under 10) and the guests. (we have 10 PCs in the house, we have guests all the time...)
Some people think this is elitist, however, some people spent $1000 for a seat option for their car where they will spend an hour to 90 minutes a day in it (I work from home, I filled up the car in May, still have half a tank of gas, so your time in the car may vary), yet balk at spending he same $1000 for a chair they will sit in for 8 to 10 hours a day. I feel the same way about the mattress to my bed, I spend far more time on that then in my car, I should invest adequate money in those for quality top grade products.
If you sit 8 h at work you are certainly doing something very wrong. Buy an electrical desk which is adjustable for height. Use it to stand every few hours. YOur back willb e very thankful for it.
i will also throw my hat in with the crowed that's mentioned exercise balls.
i started sitting on one in 2002 or so, and nothing i have ever tried comes close to being as comfortable over the long haul.
it does not recline, which can be bothersome at times, but i never get a sore back, never a sore butt and i never have any real complaints at all.
best $25 i have ever spent.
I have to agree with Paul and Keturn. The problem that programmers face - having to sit and be alert for eight or more hours a day - is NOT a new problem. For over 1000 years, yogis have developed and refined yoga to confront the anatomical problems presented by having to sit and concentrate hard for ten hours a day. Anyone who can should get some lower back strength studying yoga, and drop $40 on a buckwheat zafu. You can put a zafu on whatever you want, at whatever height you want, and with lower back strength it will hold you up and radiate your heat perfectly. Spending $1000 on a chair won't make you sit better any more than than spending $1000 on a watch will make you more punctual; it's one of those situations where dollars can't really proxy for effort.
You are making a monumental mistake to revisit this again. A better chair will not increase your productivity, it'll keep you a slave to the tools. Next up: best programming keyboard, best programming mouse, next year you'll have a review of the best programming music. If you go down this road, there's only one way out: $500 gold-plated ethernet cables.
While you are not down to audiophile level stupidity consumerism, you are close. If you go down this road your productivity will drop as you blame the lack of tools, ie My laptops keyboard sucks, can't code with it right now, will wait until I can dock it. If you go down this road you'll stop enjoying your passion. You'll become like Steve Kindig, sr. audiophile reviewer, who can't listen to his ipod for extended periods and can't haul [his] system and listening room for high quality music.
If you go down this road you'll rob yourself of the enjoyment. But there is salvation: Next time you sin, force yourself off your rig, sit down with pencil and paper, and write the damn code out. The rest of the world is doing just fine without the Best X for Y crap. Here's how the rest of the world does it: Wooden chair, 15 CRT monitor, cheap desktop tower. The U.S. hosts about 600,000 programmers, there are about 12,000,000 worldwide. You don't see them bitching about the chairs.
My mother plays a certain kind of sport, She's this years U.S national champion in the sport. This sport uses a certain kind of tool. She emigrated from a lesser endowed, country. Her tools are old, cheap by current U.S. standards. And yet, to my shock and amazement, when I looked up blogs discussing her: They were not talking about training, they were wondering about her tools. They were wondering what she was using, what brand was her (tool1), what production model was (tool2). I was floored. That was an important lesson for me. Both my parents are in this field, and they always say, the key is PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, CONCENTRATE, RELAX, NOT TOOLS. Stop being a slave to the ubiquitous consumerism. Start focusing on your work.
And here's the last WTF with your article: You are wasting another $500-$1000 for another chair simply because it's associated with dot-com excess.
My mother plays a certain kind of sport, She's this years U.S national champion in the sport. This sport uses a certain kind of tool. She emigrated from a lesser endowed, country. Her tools are old, cheap by current U.S. standards
This is not a zero-sum game. You can practice the sport AND have quality equipment, too. Why does it have to be one or the other?
Besides, sometimes the equipment can improve performance, though I'll agree this is exceedingly rare:
SamSim: I don't run, bike, eat 8 hours a day. I do those things, but not 8 hours a day. So, I don't see what is so sad about it. I work from home, so it's my most used item.
Chris, friend, what's sad is that your prize possession is a f*ing chair. (Followed, and I'm just guessing here, by a car, a couch and a TV). What's sad is that this string about f*ing chairs has run what, 200 comments? What's sad is that Jeff posted his review of chairs on the FOURTH OF F*ING JULY and that 90% of those commments have come during a THREE DAY WEEKEND. What's sad is that so many commenters think the problem is cheap chairs instead of too much sitting.
I work 8 hrs/day too but working != sitting and it damn sure != sitting in the same damn chair for 8 hours Sometimes I go to the coffeeshop ... sometimes I stand at the computer ... sometimes I have meetings ... sometimes I walk around the block thinking ... sometimes I use a piece of paper and a pencil ... sometimes I just use a different chair to give my ass a break
Not too mention I get another 16 hrs/day and 24 whole hrs on 2 days/wk when I am nowhere near that chair.
Not that I'm getting too much work done today. I keep hitting refresh on this thread. The attention to sloth on display here is damn near hypnotic.
I completely agree with Chris here. You are way off base.
Are you honestly saying that you spend more hours per week using your bicycle, your running shoes or your gardening tools than the chair at your desk?
Chris didn't say it was his prize possession. He asserted that it was something that he used a lot, so it justifies a reasonable investment - especially when compared to things that cost more and are used less.
I work 8 hrs/day too but working != sitting ...
That's great for you. Really. Well done.
But I bet the majority of folk reading this blog spend most of their day sat in a chair in front of a PC. Not through lazines or sloth, but because their jobs involve writing code and that is where the code is.
Sometimes I go to the coffeeshop ...
Yep - someimes I go make myself a coffee. But it only takes 2 minutes.
sometimes I stand at the computer ...
What and bend down to the desk? Or are you offended by buying a good chair but happy to splash out on an adjustable variable-height desk?
sometimes I have meetings ...
Not so much when working from home. And even in the office they generally just involve sitting in a different chair.
sometimes I walk around the block thinking ...
Yeah, in the UK we call that skiving
sometimes I use a piece of paper and a pencil ...
And what.. hover in the air? Bend over a desk?
sometimes I just use a different chair to give my ass a break
Well buy a decent one and your ass won't get sore in the first place.
Jeff posted his review of chairs on the FOURTH OF F*ING JULY and that 90% of those commments have come during a THREE DAY WEEKEND.
Newsflash: there are other countries in the world - the majority of which do not celebrate your national holidays.
The attention to sloth on display here is damn near hypnotic.
Newsflash 2: sitting at a desk working != sloth. However, avoiding work by hiding in the coffee shop is a pretty good example of sloth.
I recently (June 2008) tested extensively the Aeron and the Mirra.
Everyone keep on telling me to go for the aeron, but my body kept telling me to go for the Mirra. Not only was it less expensive it felt a lot better that the agging desing of the aeron. Be sure to get the one with the Seat Depth Ajustment.
As usual Jeff you have read my mind.
Ironically this article was one of the first things I read as I sat in my brand new chair that I bought during the weekend.
As a homeworker I had previously skimped on seating and it was killing my back and ruining my concentration. I had nothing against spending a reasonable amount on a chair - after all I spend 8+ hours a day sat in it - but I couldn't find anywhere locally that sold Miller or Ergohuman level chairs.
In the end I picked up a nice unlabelled high-level-but-not-designer chair, which is similar in style to the Ergohuman Mesh Chair, but with padding rather than mesh.
I think is called a KH1 Symphony operator chair. It's very adjustable (seat height/tilt/depth, back height/tilt, headrest height, arms) and was a bargain at 200 (~$393).
For comparison the Ergohuman costs around 380 (~$747) in the UK.
I bought a Nightingale CXO chair two years ago, and I absolutely love it. At the time, I was equipping a home office, and I planned to buy a used Aeron on Craigslist. (I used an Aeron at a previous dot-com, and it seemed quite comfortable and adjustable.) But I went to The Healthy Back Store, which is a small chain in Washington DC and southern California, and I realied the CXO was a much better choice. It fit my body much better, so it was quite comfortable, moreso than any Aeron. I strongly recommend trying out high-end chairs at a local store, for extended periods of time, as it's the best way to find the right chair for each individual.
Newsflash: there are other countries in the world - the majority of which do not celebrate your national holidays.
That is SO unamerican. Rest of the world, consider yourself on notice!
My goal in life is not to own a million things. It is to own 100 things that I really, truly use and value -- and get rid of everything else. So why not pick a quality chair?
Our company works with data centers, emergency call centers, and network operation centers (NOCs). The Ironhorse chairs are rated for 24 hours. The price is 1000+, but 24 hours is a long time to sit in your chair. You can find them at: http://www.ergonomicofficechairs.com/. That is what we recommend to clients who have people pulling 12 hour shifts at a workstation.
The key point you raise is how difficult it can be to find these chairs in a place where you can try them out.
Buying the right chair is like buying the right pair of stereo speakers. May be cheap, may be expensive, but you're going to have to experience it and judge for yourself because it will be a very personal fit, and what's right for you is what's right.
I have an Aeron at work, it's acceptable. I have an Ikea ALLAK at home ($69.99), and it's more than acceptable. But don't order either off the web -- you've got to go sit in one and see if it's right for you.
Graham Stewart, you really skooled me, dinnitja? So let me bring the tone down a little so my point won't get lost.
I'm not arguing with you about the Productivity Value of A Good Chair (and if you only own 100 things one of them might as well be a $1000 chair) I'm pointing out the way people's attitudes about CHAIRS makes me FEEL (sad). Part of what makes me feel this way is the context of the discussion (a long summer weekend for most of the readers, including the author). Partly it's the passion people have for office chairs which in my experience (limited to a single blog post, sure) rivals that of best golf clubs. Partly its the heat a suggestion like maybe you should sit less can generate.
But mostly what makes me sad is the crazy way so many very smart people are devoting so much attention to what may be the wrong end of the syllogism.
Person 1: My back hurts because I sit for long periods in a particular chair.
Person 2: Maybe you should sit less, or in many different chairs.
Person 1: No, no...I need a BETTER CHAIR!
I submit very humbly that before you drop a cool grand on the chair-to-end-all-chairs it might behoove you to consider the other bits of that syllogism.
Yes, Paul Souders, it is a poor workman who blames his tools, but the point of that saying is that the workman's bad not because he blames his tools, but because he was responsible for making sure his tools were up to the job.
This entry is about making sure people's tools aren't holding them back.
The company I work for has a big ergonomics program. They figured out it is cheaper to get the right workstation furniture than to pay medical bills for RSS (Repetitive Stress Syndrome) injuries.
They set up a chair room with 5-6 selected ergo chairs. You went there, and tried out each of them; selected the one that fit you. Some just didn't fit right, even with 8 different adjustments. For instance, some chairs could drop the front end of the seat to relieve pressure there. Some worked better for short people, some better for tall people.
The best you can do with this topic is get a list of good chairs. Don't buy one without trying multiple versions.
Spend your money on the things your body touches for many hours a day: chair, mouse, keyboard, and screen. Don't scrimp. And then pay attention to how it is arranged: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/computerworkstations/
... and give the MS split/ergo keyboard a try - especially if your shoulders are wider than the keyboard.
Any Babylon 5 fan can tell you that the classic Aeron has a lot of years left to it — they will still be used in military bunkers on Mars in the 23rd century.
A 'good' chair is damn important.
I had to sit half a year in a f*cked up chair!
It was broke, and stayed in a 45 degree angle!
They (www.ls-ag.ch) couldn't change it..
'Lean back'.. but not Gangsta style..
Glad I changed my employeer and have now quality equipment.
I've had a Steelcase Leap chair for about a year now. There are some things I love about it:
* The adjustable arms are awesome. This really helps with aching neck and shoulders.
* The recline feels very natural and comfortable and is fully adjustable.
* The seat base is very comfortable.
The only thing that I'm not sure about is the lumbar support. It's not bad, but it just doesn't have that ultimate comfort feel that I was expecting. It feels a little stiff/rigid to me. As a disclaimer, I should point out that I have low back pain issues, so maybe I'm asking too much.
The next time I'm looking for an office chair, I'd like to check out the Steelcase Think. I believe it has all the same good points as the Leap (adjustable arms, recline, seat), but it has a different kind of back support that may be more comfy for me. It's also a green chair and looks a lot nicer than the Leap.
SamSim: You got me, my post implied I owned those things. I actually don't own a car (not needed where I live) or couch. They say after a house, a car is usually one's largest investment followed by furniture/appliances though. Which is what I was getting at. Those items usually cost much more, but get used much less.
I do have a TV, which I barely use. So, I hardly consider it a prized possession. I went multiple years prior without one. I do not even have cable as it's not worth it to me.
I have no passion for a chair. Previously I had crummy Staples chairs, the $50 ones on special to be exact. However, over time they became very uncomfortable especially noticeable later in the day to the point where my back would start to ache. So, I decided to look at alternatives and was willing to pony up the money to get something comfortable for long periods of time.
I do go and work at the coffee shop a few days a week. They don't have expensive ergo chairs. They do have nice wood bar stools with matching tables though and I get to meet lots of interesting people. Especially when school is in session. The coffee tastes like snot (not that I wold know what that tastes like), but I still go.
I don't understand why you are so angry and passionately eccentric about someone who decides to invest a few extra into a more expensive chair?
It's just a chair, get over it.
I was disappointed that this posting did not live up to its title. I was expecting a discussion of quality chairs for quality programming, basic chairs for basic programming, waterfall chairs for waterfall programming, etc. Rather like that David Lee Roth song:
I walk around with the blues
I need some sensible shoes
Sensible shoes, ones that will lead me back to you.
PairOn chairs for pair programming:
The poster talking about how programming is not hard work is simply ignorant. I have serious spinal problems while my brother has worked labor all his 50 years and has none. This is not isolated, but common.
The only back store in Denver doesn't stock squat. There is a Herman Miller dealer in the Denver area, but there is nowhere to test drive any other chairs. I use a back support strapped to my cheap chair and that's probably the best thing. I've *never* sat in a chair that has that kind of support.
The swopper does seem promising though...
Everywhere you go, all the professionals say the same thing: ergonomic chairs are the key to a better workday. I had researched for some time before finding the right website, Officedesigns.com, and the right chair, the Aeron, for the right fit in my office. Like all the blogs had said, my back pain went away and my arms felt less sore at the end of the day. The people at Officedesigns.com told me how to adjust my chair to size perfectly with my body. I'd recommend ergonomics twofold for anyone who asks.
Buy cheap tables and expensive chairs.
Didn't Joel buy very expensive adjustable tables for his office recently?
All this talk about sitting in fancy chairs, and no mention of getting any excersise. Programmers move from chairs to couches to tables (back in chairs). No wonder people have health problems.
My fat ass has broken a lot of supposedly nice office chairs.
I am also convinced that you HAVE to spend more than just a couple hundred on a chair that you use for 8+ hours a day. I blew some freelancing $$$ on an Aeron at home (I got spoiled at the one that I had at a previous job) and never looked back.
However, I managed to get a Mirra at my current job and I *do* believe that it is slightly more comfortable while being slightly less expensive than the Aeron. Add 10 year warranty into the mix and it becomes cost effective. Really. You get what you pay for - a $500 chair will last for a long time, be attractive and comfortable.
I recently bought a new chair as well and I couldn't agree more with you on their importance to anyone who spends a significant enough amount of time sitting.
Prior to buying my new Office Star Space Series, MATREX chair, which is essentially a high-back ripoff of a herman miller chair with a head-rest, I was using $100 staples chairs which would break in under a year. Not only is the new chair sturdy and amazingly comfortable, it also has a lifetime guarantee, so even if my fat-ass breaks it, I don't have to worry about shelling out for a new one.
While it was hard to justify dumping almost $600 on a chair, I haven't regretted it for one second.
Everyone needs a good desk chair to be productive.
I had to suffer through a partly broken, crappy excuse for a chair (henceforth, chair A) for maybe 6 months recently. I asked, I cajoled, I even half-begged for a replacement and was promised much but got nothing for it. Someone more important than I in the grand scheme of things had a major chair breakdown and after maybe 6 more weeks, I finally got a replacement (chair B). I'm not sure what it was - I think some sort of Office Max knockoff of the Aeron idea. It was pretty nice, though, certainly much nicer than the chairs I sat in that preceeded A, and A, which I hope was thrown away and went to the Chinese Hell of Boiling Oil.
Of course, a month later the development group was moved to the new(ish) business office location, and was ordered to leave chair B behind. I now sit in chair C, which is better than chair A in a decidedly backhanded manner, and vastly inferior to B.
NRR: All this talk about sitting in fancy chairs, and no mention of getting any excersise.
Exercise? Are you nuts? If your problem is a back injuries caused by a sedentary job of course the solution is a more-comfortable chair which will allow you to be even more sedentary.
Spend your way to early retirement! Eat yourself thin! Drink away your alcoholism!
ps if you think programming is somhow hard on your body I'd love to introduce you to my buddy who lost his arm at the meat packer
the crazy way so many very smart people are devoting so much attention to what may be the wrong end of the syllogism
There's an inherent zero-sum argument here that makes no sense. You can care about quality seating *and* get exercise *and* have other interests *and* practice programming, too.
You'd probably be less angry if you were sitting in a nice, comfortable chair as you wrote your comment. That's all I'm saying.
It still shocks me how much so called quality office chairs cost. Are they really that much better or do office suppliers realize that companies (which are the major customer) have deep pockets?
I'm sure my chair at work costs at least in the $500 range and I don't find it anymore comfortable than the Office Depoit chair I spent $100 for at home.
Maybe I'm missing something by not having one of these great, expensive chairs, but as the saying goes, ignorance is bliss!
I'll have to agree with some of the previous posters. People need to get up and walk around a bit at intervals rather than sit in a chair for eight hours straight. And after you get home/end work do some exercise. Some strength building work and yoga stretching is great for keeping the body from developing the problems some of you are facing with muscle tension and joint issues. Sitting in the same comfortable position banging away on your keyboard for hours on end is a recipe for long term physical disaster.
Granted no one wants to sit on an uncomfortable chair for any length of time, but once you get to a point where you can be comfortable at your workstation you still can't sit there for hours and then go home and sit on the couch for hours watching tv and expect to have no physical issues.
An excellent budget chair for programmers is the Malaga 3140 (if you shop around, you can get one for $250 or so). It is highly contoured, has generous cushioning, and has more adjustments than most expensive chairs. I've visited several show rooms and tried dozens of chair models, and it wins hands-down. I use one at home extensively.
As an aside, I use the HumanScale chair pictured in the OP at work (no choice) and wouldn't recommend it. The sitting surface has very little padding and is very flat, and coworkers agree that the back feels too close regardless of adjustment. It also prevents you from locking the tilt mechanism; if you prefer to sit upright rather than recline you better love its pre-configured position or you're out of luck.
500$ for a chair?
would you pay for a chair that cost half of your paycheck?
Working at home, my chair and desk get more use than anything else I own. More than the car in my garage, the couch in front of the TV. All of which cost more than the chair I bought (TV included).
Blowing a grand on a chair was nothing and to me was bargain for more comfort and improved productivity. I'd do it again. Why one will spend the money for a new computer/laptop that only lasts a few years at best, but not on a nice comfortable chair and desk is beyond me when the chair and desk will pretty much last forever.
I ended up with a Steelcase Leap Chair (black leather; it was on sale). For the desk I ended up with an Anthro Standard Fit, but wish I would have sprung for the Details Series 3.
By the way, Steelcase told me that they were working on a head rest accessory for the Leap, like they have for the Think.
Seating matters indeed. Forget chairs. Sit seiza. You will never have problems remembering to stand up and move around a bit every half an hour or so, and it will help your health more than any chair whatsoever.
Chris: my chair and desk get more use than anything else I own
Damn, that's the saddest sentence I've ever read.
Your CHAIR gets more use than your [bicycle|running shoes|gardening tools|food processor|fishing rod|guitar|baby stroller|ham radio]?
Has anyone here seen WALL-E?
Many many good points....
I just came across this and was fascinated by the passions (or lack therof) of what people will sit in for most of their hours of the day.
I'm not a programmer, but I do sell chairs online, and have a special affinity towards ergonomics.
What I tend to say is... sit in what's comfortable (that doesn't HAVE to be expensive!), make sure your workplace is set up correctly (monitor arm, good keyboard tray, footrest for shorter folks works wonders), and make sure you take a break and stretch often!
There are many reasons for ailments, and not one thing is going to cure everything.
One thing I am fond of saying is that you could buy the most expensive chair anywhere, but if you don't take care of the other things around you.... you might as well be sitting on a rock!
Captain Kirk never would have accomplished all the things he did with a crappy captain's chair. I'm just sayin'.
Jeff, are you going to let us know which chair you decided to buy?
Not that I'm getting too much work done today. I keep hitting refresh on this thread. The attention to sloth on display here is damn near hypnotic.
Really? Are you sitting in a chair while compulsively refreshing the thread about investing in a quality chair? :)
My company bought a litter of Aerons. They're OK, but 1) the pneumatic post collapsed in one of them so we had to ship it back; 2) unless you have a private office, and I don't, flatulate craftily as there's no fart-muffling upholstery and padding. 3) if you're office is drafty, then your ass and back will be drafty too. Some people complain that the mesh material damages their clothing, but I haven't noticed.
aww man- and I've been sitting in a god damn cheap plastic lawn chair since I started working(well, not working for money, but using) a computer around 5-6 years ago.... I don't make enough to buy a really good one however...
Spoiled, spoiled, spoiled...
Most of us would die if we had to work at a real job that involved any amount of manual labor. And you are complaining about chairs? Give me a break, we are privileged to work in an:
High paying job
benefits that most other people would kill for...
And you are complaining about chairs?
By the way; how much is that Mirra anyway? I need one because well um, my lower lumbar (or whatever it is) needs a little more support, and my Aeron is getting outdated, and well, I deserve one, and my co-worker got a Mirra, and...
No mention of the Steelcase Amia so far -- anyone tried this chair?
I never understood the Aeron chairs, I've always found them uncofortable and considered them mesh for the sake of being mesh. I agree they paved the way for some great chairs that are around now though.
As people have said before, pick a selection of 4-5 chairs, try each one out for a week at a time. Also, make sure you are shown exactly how to setup the chair for yourself, whilst the mechanisms on newer chairs are getting simpler, the minor adjustments make a huge difference.
My current chair, The Girsberger Reflex. Good solid base so none of the pressure point problems you get with mesh bases. The back is an extremely sturdy thick mesh that just seems to give the right level of comfort and solidity.
All the chairs listed here are in the comments of your original thread, I think.
At work I have an aeron. I was torn between the Ergohuman Mesh and the Humanscale Freedom. I went with the Freedom, as I found one in good condition on ebay for $220.
The Freedom is a great chair, its massively more comfortable than the Aeron, but after coding all day in summer the seat gets moist and doesnt seem to get better. Which is strange: I live at 6000 feet; its incredibly dry and toweling off after a shower is substitutable by just walking around for two minutes. I havent really figured out how I'm going to use the chair late July / early August, I'll probably end up having to throw blankets over it.
For those from Poland I can highly recommend @motion from Nowy Styl.
I've bought it one year ago and I must say that even then I was not truly convinced because of it's spartan look. But right now I've forgotten what the back pain is at all and I have problems when for example I must leave my office for a business trip and I must use some strange chair they offer me in another office.
The only minus for me is the headrest - you cannot use it while programming :-( I use it only for sleep during lunch break.
It costs something around 600$-700$.
Ha, I've got the same chair where I work (the Aeron), it's absolutely incredible. I used to have some big old black monster that I *thought* was nice, but once you sit on it, there's a huge difference. That difference being, you don't even notice the chair.
Of course, now I was bothered by other things, like the cleanliness of my desk... have some coffee mug rings.
I agree with you, Jeff!
The chair is a very important investment for health and self-productivity for a programmer.
But I thnk the first investment is a good monitor. And the second is a good chair.
Before buying my first LCD display, I've been suffering of hard headaches and burning eyes. When I bought a Philips LCD 17 my pain stopped.
Before buying my first Stokke Variable I've been suffering of great backaches.
It's amazing. It's the best chair I've ever used. And after using that, you're not able to sit on normal chairs anymore!
Jeff - I like your chair post in particular and your blog in general. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.
I tried both the Leap and the Mirra, and both are comfortable chairs. In the end, I found the Mirra to be more comfortable. Partly I think this is because it breathes better because of the mesh and the plastic back panel. Mostly, I like it because the arms are completely removable. I agree with John, Ian, and Liam: chair arms get in the way. So I give the Mirra props for allowing that option. It's not possible on some of the other high-end models.
I think, a blog is a place where you express your view, it can not be on demand. If that is the case then bloggers will start offering premium subscription for on demand content.
Jeff thanks for being Jeff (the original)
I have to agree with Robert (way up there in the comments) - i think that the office chair is by nature a hard beast to tame, but the executive and manager chairs at staples have always been my favorite - i've gone through 3: one is in my home office and has been there for years (i've had to tighten a screw every once in a while, and oiled it once), but it's my favorite chair of all time, so I bought one for my office cubicle, but left it at that job, and got another one at my job after that.
I know what works for me obviously won't work for everyone, but I have to include the point that i've had massive surgery on one leg, and in the wrong chair i'm not just uncomfortable, i'm actually in severe pain after a short period of time, so a comfortable chair is of utmost importance. Of course, so is a good walk every 60 to 90 minutes, ;)
Jeff - Did you make a decision about which chair to go with?
Also I'm curious why you found your old Aeron to be less comfortable than the Mirra. Isn't the Aeron supposed to be the ultimate in comfort?
I went with Steelcase Think. I was attracted to it's simplicity and self-adjusting nature -- I don't have to deal with a whole set of knobs. It's environmental credentials are a nice bonus.
Funny -- after sitting my Think chair I wasn't terribly impressed. I wasn't until I had to sit in my co-worker's chair I grasped how awesome my chair is.
Everyone is so angry. Angry angry.
Personally I sit here at work as a clearwire internet salesman, on this hard wooden chair with half of a backs worth of back support. Whoop!
I sit on a little red plastic stool from Chinatown. Works great for me. No slouching!
After reading this blog post, and much research, I got an Aeron (which is why I was curious as to why you felt the Aeron was not as comfortable as other chairs like the Mirra).
I've also started a forum for Aeron users at http://aeron.ning.com/ to discuss the good and the bad of this chair.
The thing that unexpectedly struck me about sitting in the Mirra was my breathing. It felt like I was taking in more oxygen - I could feel it in my chest and *head*. Seemed too strange to be placebo. Surprising the difference that a small change in posture can make.
I will try these 2 because i'm siting on a wood chair 12 hours a day and i'm already broken...
Ergohuman Mesh Chair
Herman Miller Mirra chair
Thanks a lor for your research and recomendations.
I'm only a hobbyist programmer, I'm teaching myself how to write flash games. This blog which I've been reading for a while has induced me to get a copy of code complete, which along with the AS3 language referance is becomming my bible-- but by profession I'm a commercial pilot.
I don't disagree with the importance of a chair for people who sit all day at work, but I find it funny that computer people seem to think they discovered ergonomics. :) I've flown a few vintage aircraft... the pilot seats of the 1940's era C-46 have 4 adjustment levers. The 1950's DC-6 has 6! I haven't had the pleasure of flying one- but I've jumpseated in one and the (pilot) seats of the MD-11 have more options than the autopilot (almost)!
Perhaps not germane, but I've seen so many 'chair review' posts I had to comment on one of them.
It was nice to read the blogs, I have been using BodyBilt Ergonomic chairs http://www.ergo4me.com in my office for a long time, never had any back problems no complaints from my employees as well.
It was rally a nice blog about chair, i got very good information.
Just passing through. Thanks for all the input you all are giving about ergonomic chairs. I went through 1 major back surgery and they want me to have lower back surgery now. I talked with the doc and he recommended a HM chair. Im going with the mirra fully loaded one. But on the note of ergonomic computer deska. Im investing in a Biomorph X02 desk next month. It's fully adjustable where I could recline in my HM Mirra while I work and adjust the desk to the right height. Plus it comes with a fully adjustable keyboard shelf.
Get some exercise, lose weight, and anything you sit on will be comfortable.
I worked for a company where I didn't like the chairs they gave me, simply refused to get better ones and even mocked me for bitchin' about it. That was the whole reason for which I quit and I'm glad I did, because shortly after that I found a job that paid 50% more (in the previous place, I got a raise of just over 1% and I've been told I should be happy with it).
Now I sit in a comfy chair in the office of another company and when I go to interviews, I look at the chairs the developers have. Asking would be a bit freaky, but I usually say I'd like to see what the office looks like. If they refuse to show me, they're freaky. I really should know in what condition's I'll be working, I don't want a Pentium II and rusty desk for 8 hours .NET every day. If they think I don't trust them, THEY'RE RIGHT! I don't trust companies I interview for, as much as they don't trust me. They ask me questions about my personal life (of course, a good developer has good hobbies) so I check out how life is at the company.
I had back pain in my tailbone so bad I literally couldn't sit down because of my office depot chair. Bought a Mirra. Best thing I've ever bought, period.
When compared to the Herman Miller Mirra Aeron, I believe this chair is much better value. I found the chair to be more comfortable, a little softer, and had a better recline mechanism. My biggest complaint is the lack of a headrest for reclining.
Imagine if there was an ergonomic chair with a backbone/spine … Designed to support, move and work with your backbone/spine
If I may contribute, I hear a lot of people talking about mouse-hand problems. Try out the Evoluent mouse from http://www.evoluent.com/. Despite the almost-$100 price tag, I think it's worth it since, as someone said, your body touches it every day, and it feels very natural once you get used to it.
If you don't feel like spending that kind of money, you can alternate days -- at the office (where I don't have the Evoluent mouse), I alternate left-handed and right-handed, although I figure it's not so easy for everyone to do that.
Now if I can only find a good keyboard...
The backrest of an ergonomic office chair should be 12 to 19 inches wide. If the backrest is separate from the seat, it should be adjustable in height and angle.
Ergonomic Chair Alternatives to Traditional Office Chairs By: Rodney K. Lefler, DC Font size an alternative to the more traditional office chair, new styles of ergonomic chairs have been designed to try to create good support, comfort and promote good posture. These chairs may take a little getting used to, but typically become very comfortable over time. Use of these types of ergonomic chairs can be very beneficial for some people with lower back pain or discomfort. Kneeling ergonomic chair The kneeling chair is an office chair that has no back, and places the user in a modified kneeling position. The design encourages good posture by sliding the hips forward and aligning the back, shoulder and neck. Primary support is from the seat of the chair, with additional support coming from the shins. This type of ergonomic chair distributes the weight between the pelvis and the knees, which reduces spinal compression, and therefore reduces the stress and tension in the lower back and leg muscles. This ergonomic chair has a forward slanting seat that leads to a more natural position for the spine. The result is an office chair that makes sitting in the proper position feel comfortable and effortless.
Saddle ergonomic chair
The saddle chair is another ergonomic chair that can be used as a desk chair or computer chair. This type of office chair is in the shape of a horse's saddle and puts the user in a position somewhere between sitting and standing, similar to the position used when riding a horse. This allows the legs to drop naturally, and widen, creating a healthy and stable position. This position is often useful for patients with lower back problems. With long term use it can even strengthen the back muscles. These ergonomic chairs have an adjustable height to be appropriate for different users. The design is intended to eliminate some of the typical problems experienced with a traditional office chair such as circulation system problems and slouching forward.
Exercise ball ergonomic chair
The exercise ball chair is another completely different type of ergonomic chair. As the name states, it is a ball, which is large enough to support the user in any long-term sitting usage, and works well as a desk chair or computer chair.
The major advantage to this type of chair is that it encourages movement and active sitting. There is a slight bouncing involved that keeps the legs moving, which stimulates circulation and keeps muscles busy, reducing stress and fatigue.
Sitting on the ball makes slouching difficult, and the positioning needed to stay on the ball will automatically improve posture. The ball comes in different sizes to find the appropriate height for individual users. Some of these chairs can be modified with a base frame with wheels for improved mobility, and can even have a backrest attached.
For some people, sitting in a reclined position is most comfortable for their backs. For example, people with pain from lumbar spinal stenosis or degenerative disc disease often will feel most comfortable in a reclined position with feet propped up on a footrest. For these people, one option may be to use a recliner while working. Small tables are available that attach to the reclining chair and can swivel over the chair to allow one to work comfortably on a laptop or do paperwork.
No matter what type of ergonomic chair or regular office chair is used, short breaks should be taken throughout the day to improve circulation. Getting up from the chair from time to time will encourage stronger posture, relieve strain on the eyes, and reduce fatigue
Folding chairs are perhaps the most versatile type of seating available today. On the home front, they are easy to set up in the back yard at poolside, or for traveling. They're essential in commercial or public operations and the hospitality industry as well. Classic foldables and an entire new line of stylish framing mean you have plenty to choose from when you want both stability and good looks.
For centuries, designers have devised ways to make foldable furniture, and the quality of today's chairs have certainly benefited. Commissioned in the earliest days for addressing the comforts of military leaders, they also evolved into ceremonial centerpieces, including thrones for kings. As time progressed along with the advantages of mobility, these space-saving pieces developed widespread use among royalty and commoners alike. The benefits were also appreciated among larger gatherings as increased comfort began to garner precedence.
Throughout the Folding Chair Shop, you'll find a full range of styles that is among the most requested. Advanced technologies also assure these are quality products that will stand well for large-scale placement or residential enjoyment. They're available in the best materials, too, including wood, wrought iron and aluminum framing.
Utility seating includes standard metal frames with options for upholstered seats and backs or colorful plastic insets. These are ideal choices for auditoriums, conventions, school libraries, churches or other organizations. Affordability makes them a practical solution for quantity purchases, plus they're among the easiest to set up or transport. We have included dollies for stacking that increases their appeal.
More formal or elegant occasions require a different approach. When you're charged with planning weddings or other special affairs, it's important to provide a beautiful landscape of seats that will provide comfort. Wrought iron is an excellent choice as is wood, especially teak. For any outdoor dining or bistro location, armchairs and side chairs will keep guests happily seated.
Casual and fun folding chairs are simply a delight to own. Individuals and families can always find a need for these. Extra guests will never be left lacking with any of the great designs featured here. We offer loungers for poolside in several styles. Our ergonomic models are among the most flexible as they'll let you sit upright or recline with breathable mesh that conforms to and supports your body.
For grander entertaining, you'll find complete sets that make shopping even easier. In fact, you can find an array of matching furniture that will transform a plain deck into a great grouping. Create a conversation or dining grouping with all-foldable pieces and enjoy the beauty of bar height tables and stools, too.
In addition, director's chairs are also available in standard and spectator heights. Canvas insets and aluminum frames make them a lightweight favorite for heading to the beach or camping. With such amenities as popup trays and side storage pouches, they're simply must-haves for those lazy days in the sun and the sand.
Composite materials are an environmentally conscious choice and offer a bright alternative to outdoor seating. You'll find slatted designs with arms and adjustable backs. Steamer styles are just as enticing, but you can also select footrests that will pair with the uprights.
As you can see, there is no limit to the uses for folding chairs. They're an obvious hit because of their affordability. Even better, they go far beyond the designs of yesteryear to provide long-lasting quality and a comfortable seat. Please feel free to contact any of our customer service representatives if you wish to purchase in quantity or are simply looking for a perfect chair for any back yard gathering
If you are buying an ergonomic chair. I purchased a great Raynor Ergohuman chair http://www.thehumansolution.com/ergohuman1.html from The Human Solution. It's a good looking chair and I like the mesh back. The chair is very comfortable.
I'd like to put in a plug for the Humanscale Freedom chair -I'm 6'5 and it's been fantastic for me for the past seven years of fulltime use.
The company has been brilliant -the chair has a ten year warranty and I contacted them when one of the arms broke (I realized later that I'd been using the arms to lever myself out of the chair -I weigh like 230). They paid to have it replaced free of charge, no problems and they gave me the better kind of arms that pivot outwards, which is a cool feature.
The Freedom chair is able to lean way back and stay well balanced, and the very coolest thing is when you do lean back, the headrest, which is retracted when you're sitting up, comes forward and cradles your head perfectly. Instant Power Nap!!
Another cool feature is that the arms come from the back, not from below, which allows you to move around in the seat and not be cramped in by the posts that hold the arms on other chairs (see above) and they move up and down in a snap, a feature I take advantage of all the time.
Maybe I sound like a paid shill or something but I'm not, I am a normal person such as yourself. :)
I found this blog via a link posted in the comments of cuddletech.com's blog. Man those are some sweet chairs and I hope to be rich enough to drop $849-$1200 US on a CHAIR.
In the meantime, in the spirit of our new *down economy* economy, how about a round up of the best chairs for under $499 for those of us still struggling with toxic mortgages?
I just bough an chair after reading this blog
below is the the link to the image , its quite similar to the jeff chair
and it cost me Rs 3000 ($60) only!!!
before this chair i used to sit on a chair costing Rs 150 ($3) only !!
I have been using the Steelcase Leap chair for the past 7 months and I figured I would write my own review on it. I read several reviews before buying this chair and after reading so many reviews that talk about how comfortable they are, I figured that I couldn't go wrong. I'm 5'8 160, so not a big guy... I had read that these chairs were good for a smaller person which was another perk for me.
Since I have been using this chair, I can say that I like it HOWEVER... I would never pay $800.00 for this chair. I picked this one up in like brand new condition for $400.00. Even $400 is too much for this chair in my opinion. The post that goes into the base is starting to wobble a bit and I fully expect to have to replace it soon.
One review in particular sticks out in my mind because it mentioned how you would feel like you were sitting "on air". Nothing could be further from the truth. The bottom cushion is somewhat hard and I need to take periodic breaks from sitting, which I suppose is a good thing anyway.
The bottom line is that in my opinion, these "ergonomic" chairs are a bunch of hype. I can honestly say that I have sat in much more comfortable OfficeMax chairs that have cost me $120.00 than this Steelcase Leap chair. Again, don’t get me wrong, I like the chair but is certainly isn’t worth $800.00 or even $400.00.
Just my 2 cents.
I bought myself a Mirra 9 months ago and am really happy with it. I use it at home. At work there is an Aeron but I find the Mirra more comfortable.
Anyway I really recommend trying out the chairs yourself in a chair-shop. The money spent regarding the time you sit during your life is definitely worth it.