The Real Story Behind Ergonomic Office Chairs: Short-Term Comfort vs. Long-Term Health

In the modern workplace, ergonomic office chairs are often seen as the gold standard for achieving comfort and productivity. With their myriad of levers, adjustable parts, and sophisticated designs, these chairs promise to alleviate discomfort and promote better posture. But what are these ergonomic solutions really based on, and how suitable are they for long-term health?

The Promise of Ergonomic Chairs

Ergonomic office chairs are engineered to be highly adjustable, allowing users to customize seat height, backrest angle, armrest positioning, and lumbar support. The idea is to accommodate various body types and sitting preferences, theoretically providing a tailored seating experience. These chairs are designed based on ergonomic principles, which focus on optimizing human well-being and overall system performance and are generally measured to fit the average man.

The Shortcomings of Ergonomic Chairs

While ergonomic chairs offer impressive short-term comfort and customization, they may not be the ultimate solution for long-term health and posture improvement. A chair, no matter how advanced, cannot train your spinal support reflexes or fundamentally change your postural habits. It may provide temporary relief but does not equip you with the skills to sit well on anything, anywhere.

A Personal Story: Ergonomics vs. The Alexander Technique

Consider my personal experience when I worked in an office in Manchester. With the help of my Alexander Technique teacher, I set up her workspace tailored to my specific needs. My screen was on a shelf at eye height, my hands and keyboards much lower so my wrists were NOT resting, but more free like a pianist. This setup was comfortable and perfectly adjusted for my head height and hand position.

However, a man from the ergonomics team saw this setup and was horrified and called it ‘ridiculous’ because it didn’t fit his standard measurement rules. Despite my satisfaction and lack of any pain, he was not curious about these choices. My colleague insisted on ordering an ergonomic chair for herself.

When the £1,000+ chair arrived, this colleague sat down heavily and remarked, “Great! I can still sit like a sack of potatoes in it!”

This comment highlights a crucial point: despite all the adjustability, the real difference in maintaining good posture and health lies in how you use yourself and choose to sit.

The Alexander Technique: A Better Investment

Rather than investing in expensive ergonomic furniture, learning some basic anatomy and the principles of the Alexander Technique may be a more beneficial use of your time and money. The Alexander Technique focuses on improving your awareness of how you use your body in everyday activities. It teaches you to develop better postural habits, allowing for more natural and effective movement.

Learning How to Sit Well

Understanding simple anatomy and learning to “think Alexander thoughts” can help you change your postural habits for the better. The Alexander Technique emphasizes the importance of freeing your head, neck, and back to work together in harmony. It teaches you to be more conscious of your body and how you move, leading to improved balance, breathing, and overall poise.

This thinking is easy and portable, and can lead to better mental alertness, better back health and other positive changes, breathing, poise, neck pain, RSI to name a few.

Making the Choice

At the end of the day, the choice is yours. You can opt for an expensive ergonomic chair that offers short-term comfort but does little to address the root cause of poor posture. Or, you can invest in learning how to use your body more effectively through the Alexander Technique, gaining skills that will benefit you for a lifetime.


Ergonomic office chairs have their place in providing some relief and adjustability. Get an Alexander Technique teacher to show you how to choose a good set-up too.

However, chairs are not a panacea for long-term health and posture improvement. The key to lasting comfort and well-being lies in understanding and improving how you use your body. By choosing to invest in some Alexander Technique lessons, you equip yourself with the tools to sit well on anything, anywhere, enhancing your mental, physical, and back health. So, which do you choose?

If, after reading this, you’d like some help with your chair and office set up, or would like to learn how to use yourself better on any chair – please book a free 15 minute consultation here and get clearer about your next step. https://lucyascham.com/whats-on/

Written by Lucy Ascham, Body & Soul Energy Expert

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"I've just had two enjoyable and useful sessions with Lucy on Zoom. I had been doubtful about how it would work but I was pleased with how it went. Of course, nothing is as good as face-to-face but we are where we are and this was great and has helped me to progress as I had hoped. Thank you. Looking forward to the next ones!"


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