Are armrests good for ergonomics? Should I remove the armrests of my office chair or should I keep them? You must have thought about these and other related questions regarding the armrests of your chair.
Some research shows that adjustable armrests have numerous benefits in terms of productivity and overall health of the users whereas others claim that armrests restrict the user’s ability to perform well. This puts the users in a confusion about whether the armrests are effective or not.
In the given article, we will resolve all your confusion regarding the effectiveness of armrests and whether you should opt for a chair with armrests or without armrests.
Are Armrests Good for Ergonomics Office Chairs?
The impact of office chair armrests on the productivity levels of users is a never-ending debate in the field of ergonomics. Proper ergonomically designed workspace can dramatically impact the safety, well-being, and efficiency of users. A comfortable office chair is a key component of ergonomics. Armrests are an additional feature of ergonomic chairs that adds to the comfort of users. Their ergonomic effectivity can be understood with the following points:
Improve Body Posture
Around 5 percent of an average human body mass consists of arms and hands. Holding such a large weight for many hours is extremely tiring and uncomfortable.
In this regard, armrests are helpful as they support the weight of arms and allow the shoulder muscles to relax. In the absence of ergonomic armrests, shoulders are either too raised or too depressed which leads to poor posture.
Armrests provide support to the neck and shoulders, reduce the tendency of your upper body to hunch forward, and ensure that your arms remain in the correct position.
Reduce Strain on the Body
Armrests relieve the strain on the shoulders and neck by providing them with a balanced place to rest. In the absence of armrests, shoulder and neck muscles have to overwork to keep the arms balanced. In this way, the user is more likely to develop discomfort or strain in the body.
The use of armrests decreases the amount of work needed to balance the arms and in this way, the user is prevented from developing any ergonomic risks such as muscle strain or other musculoskeletal disorders.
In addition, when you want to get in and out of a chair, armrests provide you support to push and pull yourself. In this way, they take off some load from your legs and back and prevent any strain on those muscles as well.
Provide Comfort while Typing
Armrests provide comfort to your arms and shoulders while you’re typing, using a mouse, or preparing a handwritten report, by supporting the weight of the arms.
Armrests provide a resting place for forearms that prevents them from getting fatigued or becoming too tired. In this way, armrests make a user feel comfortable and relaxed while typing which boosts the typing speed and accuracy as well.
Drawbacks of Armrests on Office Chairs
Although armrests reduce shoulder shrugging and provide several other benefits, they do have a few drawbacks. Some of them are mentioned below:
- Armrests often become inconvenient when they restrict our hands from reaching the desk. They also hinder when a task requires excessive arm movement or you have to work on a large surface or at a height that is not compatible with the armrest’s height.
- Another drawback for some people is that they feel pain in the underside of the arms due to the excessive use of armrests. The constant rubbing of the arm with armrests is also problematic for many people. This can be more troublesome for people with sensitive skin or existing skin ailments.
- The use of armrests on office chairs creates an overreliance on them for support. This makes the muscles in the shoulders and back weak and inactive. In addition, many people use one armrest more than the other which creates uneven muscle development. The weak and uneven muscle development also leads to pain in the shoulders, neck, and back.
Do You Need Office Chair Armrests?
In light of the benefits and drawbacks of armrests explained above, it is evident that the need for armrests depends from individual to individual and situation to situation.
- Armrests are helpful while typing or working on a computer but if your work requires constant motion, then you should skip armrests as they can restrict you from moving freely.
- Armrests promote comfort and relieve muscles and back pain, but they also develop the habit of over-reliance on them which leads to weak and inactive muscles.
- Armrests improve body posture but if you get troubled due to the rubbing of your arms against it or experience pain in the underside, you can avoid it.
Thus, armrests are good for ergonomics but they are not important for everyone at all times. If you need forearm support while working, you should get armrests attached to the chair. On the other hand, if you don’t suffer from shoulder pain or don’t need support for the upper trapezius, you can function without armrests.
Even with armrests, you should take regular breaks from work, walk around, and do some simple stretches to maintain a balanced muscle alignment. Moreover, keep regular breaks from work and walk around or perform some simple stretches to keep a balanced muscle alignment.
How to Selecting the Right Armrests For Your Office Chair?
As every human being has different body measurements, a standard desk chair can’t fit into all. Therefore it would be helpful for you to understand the adjustability options so that you can buy a suitable armrest for your ergonomic chair. Remember, good armrests are those that can be positioned at the natural elbow position of the user. Therefore, before buying an armrest for an office chair, make sure that it has the following features so that you can adjust it according to your requirements.
Adjustable Height, Width, and Length
No one can sit in the same position for long hours. we constantly move and make adjustments according to our body needs and health conditions.
Therefore, while choosing an armrest, make sure that it features adjustable height, width, and length. So that you can adjust the armrest according to your arms’ position rather than adjusting your arms according to the armrests.
Typically armrests are available in a variety of materials such as plastic, wood, leather, mesh, and metal. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. Select an armrest that is comfortable, budget-friendly, and made of durable material so that it can last longer and withstand routine.
Compatible with your chair and tasks
Look for armrests that are compatible with your chairs and can be easily attached to them. Moreover, also evaluates its compatibility with the task you have to perform so that you can avoid discomfort.
Look for an armrest that has pivoting options so that you can rotate it in different directions and make it more comfortable and ergonomic for your use.
In addition, a well-attached armrest will create an elbow angle of 90 degrees when working on the computer screen. So the best position to attach armrests is the natural elbow point of the person. Pivoting armrests are useful for those who like to place their wrists close to one another while they work.
In a nutshell, armrests are effective for ergonomics in some scenarios but they can be inconvenient in others. Armrests help in reducing the pressure on the neck and shoulders. They help in improving spinal alignment and reducing the risk of developing body strain.
However, armrests cause inconvenience as well in certain circumstances. If the pros of armrests outweigh their cones in your case, you should surely go for them. Moreover, the armrests of office chairs are effective for ergonomics only when they are properly adjusted. So make sure to buy an ergonomic office chair that features armrests with adjustable features so that you can customize them per your needs.