How to match the chair to the task

There's more than one way to sit right. The right way to sit at a computer is different from the right way to sit for driving or writing at a desk.


There are three kinds of sitting postures: forward, upright, and reclined. Each posture needs a different kind of support. Some chairs can adjust to support more than one kind of seated task. Other chairs my only support one kind of seated task.

Reclined sitting postures are used for resting, conversation, and other activities with the eyes focused forward or upward. Most people recline to watch TV, and some recline to drive or use a computer.


Upright sitting postures are used for working with the hands close to the body and the eyes focused straight ahead. Most people sit upright to type and eat, and some sit upright to drive or use a computer.


Forward sitting postures are used for reaching tasks and tasks with the eyes focused downward. Writing, drafting, dentistry, and using a microscope usually require forward postures.


Most people prefer a forward tilting seat or saddle-seat for forward sitting, a nearly horizontal seat or saddle-seat for upright sitting, and a backward tilting seat for reclining.



A "free-float" seat tilt adjusts automatically with your shifting body weight, like a rocking chair. Some office chairs offer adjustable tilt tension in a free-float seat to precisely balance your body weight. However, even adjustable tilt tension chairs tend to be too stiff for very light people, and too loose for heavier people.

Saddle seats offer a clear advantange for tasks that require forward reaching, fine hand-eye coordination, pushing and pulling, and scooting about.

A good chair for an upright or reclined task may be ineffective or harmful if used for a forward task and vice versa.



We use these symbols to indicate the activities for which a chair is best suited: