Around 70 to 80% of Americans experience back pain in their lives. That’s a whopping amount! We know that many of our readers either suffer from back pain or want to actively prevent it. There are multiple ways in which you can prevent or reduce back pain at the office. For anyone who wants to buy a new chair in order to reduce their back aches, we’ve reviewed several ergonomic chairs and found the Best Office Chair for Back Pain.
|Herman Miller Embody||5/5||$$$$$|
|Herman Miller Aeron||4/5||$$$$|
|Ergohuman High Back||4/5||$$$|
|Lorell Executive High-Back||3/5||$$|
If you’re looking for an office chair that is right for you and your back, there are two things you need to worry about most. First is the lumbar support (back support). Ask yourself questions such as:
- Does your chair offer you proper back support?
- Is the lumbar support adjustable in height and/or depth?
- Do I feel comfortable sitting on this chair for multiple hours?
Second comes the adjustability of the chair. How can the office chair of your choice be adjusted? Does it offer an adjustable lumbar support, tilt angle, or neck rest?
If you focus on these two factors, you’ll surely make a good choice and find the office chair that fits your body and needs best.
For this article, we took 6 of our favorite office chairs, which offer great adjustability AND great lumbar support. Three of the chairs are for higher budgets, one is mid-range, and we’ve reviewed two of our favorite low-budget chairs. So whatever your budget, we’ve included a chair for you.
However, maybe you’re suffering from back pain despite already owning a great office chair. In that case, takae a look at the best Back Pain Relief Products which we included below.
Table of Contents
Best Office Chair for Back Pain
Best Office Chair for Back Pain: The Embody by Herman Miller
If you consider a chair that is good for your back, there’s two main things to think about. First is (lumbar) support. The chair you use every day, often for hour on end, needs to really support your back. It should follow the curve of your back, and that’s exactly what the Embody is.
In fact, it’s what the Embody is designed for. As you can see from this picture, the Embody’s spine is designed to mimic your own spine. And this is absolutely noticeable when sitting in this chair. The back support really helps taking the weight off your lower back and allows you to sit back comfortably.
Second is adjustability. We recently announced the Herman Miller Embody as the best ergonomic office chair currently on the market. It’s not that its stylish looks will help you, but the adjustability on this chair is simply awesome.
The seat can easily be adjusted, so that you’re sure that the chair fits your body size and height. It might be useful to revisit our piece on how to adjust an office chair, which can be either found in this article, or in the recap below. But aside seat adjustment, you can also adjust the chair’s so-called ‘tilt tension‘. With the tilt tension knob, you’re able to control the resistance you feel when leaning back against the chair.
In this way you can really personalize your chair and make it fit your body and your back. If you’re suffering from a mild back pain or even chronic back pain, there’s a great chance that this chair will offer relief.
That is why we think it’s the best office chair for back pain. However, there’s a hefty price tag involved, so if you’re budget-conscious, go for our budget-picks below instead.
Steelcase has been making office chairs since 1912, right here in the USA. They have expanded since their furniture-making origins and now also make things like sofas and even interactive whiteboards. However, that does not mean they’re not great at what they do.
The Steelcase Gesture was our top pick when we reviewed ten of the best office chairs. It also makes for an excellent choice when you’re suffering from back pain.
In a study, 62% of people who suffered from back pain and used the Steelcase Gesture indicated that using this chair alleviated their pain. But it’s not just these findings that make the Gesture such a great chair.
As you know, if you want to have a good sitting posture, you have to leave some space between the seat cushion of your chair and your calfs. This space should be around the size of a closed fist. The great thing about the Gesture is that it offers an intuitive adjustment system. Similar to the Herman Miller Embody, the Gesture has an adjustable seat that you can use to increase or decrease that space.
The Gesture has a variety of other possible adjustments that can help you if you’re suffering from back pain. This is clearly explained in this video.
Herman Miller Aeron
The Herman Miller Aeron is a classic office chair and has been around for a long time. Nonetheless, people kept wondering whether the Herman Miller Aeron is good for bad backs.
We do think that the Aeron can do wonders for a bad back, but you would have to check which version you are thinking of purchasing. The Aaron has been redesigned at least once, and it’s therefore best to buy a new Aeron chair, or at least one that is not older than 2-3 years.
We particularly like the Aeron because it is such a comfortable chair. Even though the lumbar pad might need some adjusting (that’s why this chair is not higher on the list), it’s still a chair that provides comfort for anyone. Your size and height doesn’t matter.
If we want to get into the specifics, the Aeron desk chair is suitable for people with bad backs because it uses a mesh fabric in the back. This fabric distributes the force you are exerting on the back of the chair, making the sitting experience more comfortable.n addition, the back is slightly curved, which (similar to the Embody) mimics your spine and offers you proper back support. Sitting in this chair for hours at end is peanuts.
Sure, the Aeron is not the cheapest in the bunch (though the Embody is definitely more expensive), but with so many satisfied clients over more than two decades, this chair is a safe bet.
The Ergohuman High-Back is a great chair that is just slightly more affordable than the Steelcase Gesture or the Herman Miller Aeron. In a way, this chair is the middle ground between the Herman Miller Embody and the Alera Elusion.
The Ergohuman was named one of the most ergonomic office chairs in this article and there’s an obvious reason for it. In essence, this chair takes care of your whole body. Does that sound odd? Well, maybe. But the built-in lumbar support is properly contoured and height-adjustable. Sure, you can’t adjust the depth of the lumbar support, but in general that should not be an issue.
It also comes with an adjustable headrest, which is quite good. Although some improvements could be made – for instance, the chair isn’t really meant for people over 6″3 or so – the combination of the high-back and the adjustable headrest is great. In this way, the chair fully supports your lower and upper back, making it a great perfect office chair for back pain.
What people not often realised is that back pain and neck pain often go hand in hand. This is especially so when stress is a factor. Because of stress you automatically tense your muscles, which may result in both back and neck pain. Because of the headrest, the Ergohuman is very suitable for people who suffer from both areas of the body at the same time.
The Alera Elusion. Simple, stylish, cheap. But most importantly: ergonomic.
The Elusion is one of the wonders of the chair industry. If you want to alleviate your pain AND spend little money in the process, this chair is the way to go. In fact, we find the Elusion to be the best office chair under $200.
The reason for this award is that this Alera chair features awesome adjustability. This includes seat tilt, seat height, chair height (obviously), armrests, and more. You will have to take some time to adjust this chair to your body, but once you do, it will provide you with ample comfort.
The built-in lumbar support on the Alera Elusion cannot be found in any other chair of this price level. If you want better, you’ll simply have to pay a whole lot more. The back rest can be moved so that the lumbar support fits in the lower part of your back. This is especially important for people with bad backs.
While the adjustability on this chair is great, there are some downsides. As we said, this type of adjustability you can’t find with other chairs at this price. That’s true. However, for people with bad backs, we would recommend spending a little more money and get an even better fitting chair.
Even light back pain may worsen over time. So though the Elusion (and the Lorell Executive) are great chairs, your back will thank you when opting for the adjustability of the Embody, the Gesture, or even the Herman Miller Aeron or Ergohuman High Back.
Lorell Executive High-Back
The Lorell Executive High-Back is a great low-cost choice for anyone who suffers from back pain. The chair has a mesh backrest which provides adequate support for your back.
As is the case for many of these chairs, the Lorell has a backrest that follows the curvature of your back, or so they say. Sure, it’s not same quality as the Embody chair, but it does the job and does it well. When using this chair, we could feel our back having adequate support.
We particularly liked the high-back, as it supports your back all the way to your neck. Depending on your height, of course. If you’re suffering from a bad back or lower back pain, then you need adjustable seat depth in your chair. Similar to higher-end chairs, the Lorell also offers this adjustability. Combined with a good seat cushion, that makes for a great chair. This way, you’re able to really adjust the chair to your size.
And of course, the lumbar support is adjustable, which is also a requirement if you’re looking for something to help you ease your aches.
Overall, the Lorell is a solid choice. Generally, customers who are suffering from back pain report that this chair works wonders. Sure, there are some better picks out there if you want to have the best of the best. But if you’re on a budget, the Alera Elusion or the Lorell is the way to go.
Back Pain Relief Products
We hope that this information gave you some additional insights. Note though that we did not include any non-traditional office chairs. For instance, kneeling chairs can have great benefits for people with back pain!
In addition, we did not cover other ways in which you can reduce or prevent back pain. Stress-reduction, yoga, and muscle exercises are all good options. If you want to know more about these solutions, read this article.
But perhaps you’re not keen on kneeling chairs. Perhaps doing exercises hasn’t helped. Moreover, you might already have one of the best office chairs for back pain.
In that case, it might be worth your while to take a look at the best back pain relief products.
There are a variety of support products available on the market today. From temporary pain relief such as gels and ointments, to additional lumbar support, and more.
We’ve decided to do a small review of some of the most popular products for back pain, so that you can make sure to get rid of your back pain once and for all! Note that these products we haven’t ranked these products. Some products might be a good solution for your back ache, and others might not. You always have to check which back relief product works for you.
Lumbar Support Cushion
One of the questions we get the most is: “Can you write a review on back cushions?”.
You ask, we answer. Although our review isn’t finished yet, we’re working on it and we’ll let you know once it’s available as soon as possible.
So if you’re already in the market for extra lumber support, you’ve probably had the right idea. Your office chair might not provide proper support, or maybe your office chair is old and the lumbar support has been worn away. Whatever the reason, extra lumbar support in the form of an additional back cushion can often be a great solution for back pain.
We suggest getting a cushion with memory foam, so that it quickly adjusts to the form of your back. In this way you can really personalize your chair and sitting posture.
There are a great number of back cushions available on the market. Most of them have great reviews on Amazon (and elsewhere), and with a relatively low price, they’re a great and inexpensive solution to your needs.
Hot & Cold Therapy Pack
A simple solution for almost any kind of muscle pain is the hot and cold pack. You can put these packs either in the freezer or in the microwave.
There are quite some packs on the market today that include adjustable velcro straps. If you have a bad back, we particularly recommend these kind of packs. If the straps are long enough, you should be able to put the pack right on the area where you feel the most pain.
Note that both hot and cold therapy may reduce back pain for a while. However, always make sure that you check whatever you feel most comfortable with. For some people a warm pack works better than a cold pack.
Although such hot and cold packs make for great pain relievers, do note that these packs are not a long-term solution. If you’re occasionally suffering from back pain, this might be a good choice. But if you have chronic back pain, you need a solution that lasts longer!
An acupressure mat is a whole different kind of solution to back ache. It’s not necessarily a temporary solution such as heat packs (or gels or other medication), but it’s not as permanent as a back support cushion either. Why?
Well, you have to work for it.
Ok, well, maybe you don’t really have to ‘work’ as such. However, you do have to take time off to lie on this mat for 10-30 minutes per day. You can’t really continue working during that time, though you can of course listen to music or a podcast.
So, does it help? Most people who have used such mats are quite positive. They indicate it may be a bit painful at first, so you might need some time to adjust.
However, if you use it properly, most consumers say it can really be a great back pain relief! Unfortunately we haven’t tried it ourselves yet, but at such a price, it’s a no-brainer.
Pain Relief Medication
If you want a temporary relief of your back pain, you can always just opt for pain relief medication. A few examples: paracetamol, aspirin, or ibuprofen.
While such medication does generally help reduce the back pain you feel, it is simply not a long-term solution.
However, if you’re suffering from back pain temporarily – perhaps you strained your back in one way or another – using medication might be a good idea. Always make sure to first consult with your doctor though!
Electric Muscle Stimulation (TENS)
Such muscle stimulation therapy has got us all excited. It seems wonderful that you can attach a device to your back which magically makes all your ache disappear.
Ok, maybe we’re being too enthusiastic here. Although electric muscle stimulation works, it is no magic.
The fancy word for this method is TENS, or “transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation”. According to WebMD, it works like this.
Such devices has several electrodes, which need to be attached to your body. The electrodes should be near where you feel the pain the most. When turned on, the TENS device sends a low-voltage electric current through the electrodes.
This might sound scary, but it doesn’t hurt. It affects the nerves in that area of your body. In this way, it distorts the signals your nerves send to your brain and decreases the pain you feel.
Unfortunately though, TENS is not a good solution for chronic low back pain.
We therefore suggest to use a TENS device only if you’re suffering from temporary back pain. If you think this is something for you, you might want to check out the variety of TENS devices available (though we generally suggest the well-reviewed Santamedical handheld unit).
Back Stretcher Device
There seems to be some evidence (anecdotal, at the least) that back stretchers can relief lower back pain.
We weren’t able to find a scientific study proving once and for all that these kind of back stretchers work. However, both Amazon reviews and a variety of different websites (one of which is Livestrong) indicate that back stretch devices can relief pain.
The question is then: Which is better, a ‘normal’ back stretcher or a full-fledged inversion table?
Well, we’re no doctors, so we can’t make a definitive conclusion on this. However, we do know that it largely depends on your preferences.
A back stretcher device such as the one you see in this picture is quite easy to use. You don’t have to put it together, and the instructions are clear. Use the device for 5-10 minutes or so, twice per day. This should already have a positive effect on your back.
In comparison, an inversion table is more difficult to handle. You might have to put all the bits and pieces together before you can use it. More importantly: an inversion table is not without risk! If you do not know how to use such a table, it can be quite dangerous. So it’s advised that you use a spotter while on the inversion table. A spotter is someone who can help you if you’re stuck or can’t easily get out of your lying position.
That is why we generally prefer these small back stretcher devices. However, inversion table therapy might have a larger effect on your back, especially if you’re pain is very severe.
Before using one of these tables, make sure to consult with a doctor first!
The Peanut Ball is our last pick. Sure, there are numerous other devices and widgets out there that may help reduce, prevent or even get rid of back pain. We didn’t have the space to discuss them all, but we’ll probably do a review of a few others soon. One product we did feel we had to include though, was the Peanut Ball.
Peanut Balls come in the same shape, but different sizes. Larger Peanut Balls are often used during pregnancies for instance. These Peanut Balls (often 45 or 55 cm in width) can really help women during labor.
However, smaller Peanut Balls (also sometimes called Lacrosse Balls) are also available. Peanut Balls which measure around 5″ (or a bit more) in diameter can do wonders for your back.
Essentially, a Peanut Ball is a kind of massage tool. By lying down and putting the thinner part between the balls right under your spine, you ensure that the larger parts come into contact with your back muscles.
In this way, you can essentially give yourself a massage where you feel the most pain. While this is not a long-term solution, Peanut Balls can provide great temporary pain relief.
Before buying a Peanut Ball, you should always check its size. As you can see from the image, this woman is using quite a large-sized Peanut Ball. However, some of these are much smaller. Always check what works best for you.