Should You Be Using Office Chair Armrests?

It's a common debate across with country with workforces arguing their case for and against the use of armrests. Some people swear by them while others find it more comfortable to use their ergonomic office chair without them.

Sitting correctly seems like an easy thing to do, but if we mindfully focus on how we sit during the day, you'll probably notice that you end up slouching or shifting into a position which 'feels' more comfortable, when in actual fact its doing more harm than good.

But are armrests bad?

Ultimately, the decision is personal, but let's delve into the reasons why armrests can be important to your health and comfort while sitting at your office desk.

Ergonomic office chair with armrests

The Types of Office Chair Armrests

Typically, office chairs do come with armrests. There are some models that are completely void of armrests, and some that can optionally be built onto your chosen office chair but generally they are a main feature.

But not all armrests are the same.

Fixed Armrests

Fixed armrests are as the name implies. They are in a fixed position and cannot be adjusted. These are typically found on cheaper-end models of office chairs. They office good support for your forearms, leading to less stress on your neck and shoulders, but they are not a 'one size fits all'.

Some fixed arms may be in a good position for you on one model, while on another they may be a hindrance. Fixed armrests are normally designed in a T-shape or as a 'loop'.

Folding Armrests

Folding armrests are useful for when you require to quickly switch between using and not using armrests which typically coincides with the type of work you're doing.

Folding armrests generally only have two available positions. 'Up', where the armrest is folded up vertically, out of the way - and 'down' where the armrest is folded 90 degrees to a horizontal position.

The height and width of these armrests cannot be adjusted so you will be stuck with it's default horizontal position should you choose to use the armrest.

Adjustable Armrests

Adjustable armrests are the cream of the crop. The crème de la crème. These of course are found on higher-end office chair models.

While they don't all sport the exact same features, they do generally have a combination of height, width and pivot adjustments to allow you to get the very best position tailored to you and your desk.

Armrest Height

Armrest height is the most common type of armrest adjustment - and for good reason. A well adjusted height of your armrest can help you avoid shoulder and neck tension.

The correct way to adjust your armrest height is to ensure that your wrists end up in a neutral position when supported by your office desk. Your wrist is an extension of your forearm, where they both neither flexes down or extends up to reach your keyboard and mouse. They should both be positioned horizontally and this is all in aid of the height of your armrests.

An armrest which is positioned too high will result in you over-compensating in your shoulder position. This can lead to an increased tension in your shoulder muscles overtime which can cause fatigue.

Adjusting your armrest too low can run you the ergonomic risk of contact stress at both your forearm and wrist. This repeated contact stress over the course of days and weeks can lead to serious repetitive strain injuries (RSI), including tendonitis.

Armrest Width

We are all different shapes and sizes. Not every armrest will be completely beneficial to use unless their fully adjustable.

Armrest widths help contribute to good body alignment and can help relax the muscles of your shoulders, arms, neck and hands.

Ensure the width of your armrests allow your shoulders and arms to naturally sit by your side. If your armrests are too wide, you'll end up over-stretching to fit your forearms on them, which could end up in discomfort.

Armrest Pivot

Armrest pivot is the least common type of adjustment on armrests but can significantly improve the level of comfort of your office chair.

Pivoting armrests allow them to turn inwards and outwards, another feature which is there to help you correctly position your shoulders, neck, forearms and hands.

Kyphosis is a postural condition which effects many office workers. It's a condition which finds your upper back is rounded forward.

Exercises are used to correct this condition, and the aided use of pivoted armrests can help you overcome this issue.

Using the pivot feature can help stretch your pectoral muscles in the front and contract the rhomboids in your back.

Non-Adjustable Armrests and Armless Office Chairs

Cheaper-end models of office chairs tend to come with less features, and this includes armrests.

Not all office chairs will suit everyone. We are all different shapes and sizes, and its impossible for every chair to be perfect for everyone.

This is why ergonomic models are dearer in price since they have all the bells and whistles associated with ergonomics and adjustability.

Task/Operator office chairs are generally the types of office chairs that come with fixed armrests or completely without armrests. They offer a freedom of movement unlike other office chairs, but sitting on one for extended periods of time can cause discomfort due to the lack of adjustability.

Risk of Poor Ergonomics

We've covered the risk of poor ergonomics extensively before, but in short, they are the principles that surround the notion of ensuring you the user can use an object without succumbing to injury or pain.

While armrests are only one factor of ergonomic office chairs that play a part in reducing the risks, they still play an important role.

Comfort for a brief moment versus a lifetime of discomfort due to injury is just not worth it.

While sitting correctly may, at first, feel unnatural, once your body becomes used to the position, you'll feel much better for it.

Ergonomic Office Chairs Best Sellers

If you've got this far and you're after recommendations regarding ergonomic office chairs, then look no further than out best sellers.

Our hand-picked ergonomic office chairs selection features office chairs across a large price range to help everybody get the right ergonomic office chair for them.

With a variety of armrests available, you can choose the type that suits you and your workspace the best.