If you’re stuck with an uncomfortable chair now you’re working from home, or maybe the office chair isn’t too great either.
Suffer no more, as I have a few easy ideas for you to quickly (and cheaply!) make your current office chair more comfortable.
For each tip, I will share solutions that involve both a specific product, designed to fix the problem, along with a FREE DIY solution, which will do a good job in the short term if you’re not in a position to be spending money.
Whilst there is nothing quite the same as a proper ergonomic chair for support and comfort. These tips will make a big difference to your comfort and productivity levels when sitting in your computer chair.
This is a picture of the correct posture when sitting on a computer chair. You are going to find ways to improve your comfort and in turn your posture to recreate the image below to the best of your ability.
Good Back Support
Ideal product to give your chair greater back support:
A lumbar support cushion comes in various shapes and sizes, but essentially they all do the same thing.
It fills in the hollow gap created by the curved part of your spine when sitting down.
Which otherwise would have little to no support.
(Resulting in an aching, tightness in your back.)
A lumbar cushion is a relatively inexpensive accessory that you put in the curved part of your back.
It prevents and relieves that tightening and sore feeling you get in the top of your back after sitting at the computer for an hour or so by giving you adequate back support.
Whilst ergonomic chairs have this curved support built in, most regular office chairs and certainly dining chairs (if that’s what your’e using when working from home), do not have sufficient support in this area.
This is an example of a lumbar support cushion, it costs less than £20 and is made from 99.75% natural materials, (Hevea Milk – Rubber Tree Sap).
Many cheap lumbar cushions are made from low quality memory foam, which are not only filled with chemicals, but will lose their shape and support after a short time.
So try to get the most supportive and highest quality lumbar support cushion you can afford.
DIY Solution to Lumbar Cushion
There are a few free DIY solutions to this problem, (one of which, I am actually using on my computer chair right now).
- Roll up a blanket into a small snake a play around with placement behind your back.
- Use large bubble wrap, folded or rolled. Sit in your chair and figure out where positioning the bubble wrap wedge makes it more comfortable. When you have figured out a good thickness and shape, secure it in place with tape, so you don’t have to redo it each time.
- A simple cushion from the sofa will also do something for you, and is better than nothing. (Although it won’t be quite right shape and won’t give support for many hours of work a day.)
Wrist / Elbow Support (Armrests)
This is something I hadn’t really thought about until researching to create this website.
When I sit in my computer chair, my elbows hang on the inside the the arm rests, so the rests provide no support.
Unless I sit in a really weird way, leaning forward to move my elbows out to the side, I can’t get to them to sit on the elbow rests. This is probably a common problem, you might have the exact same problem.
When you sit at a desk, your elbows should be resting on the supports and your wrists lightly touching the desk, to minimise strain on your wrists when typing.
If your elbows are not resting on any supports, then like me, you will probably have noticed you have sore wrists and forearms after working at the computer for a few hours.
(All of the weight of your arm is being held up by the anchor point on the desk which is your wrist.)
This is not good for anyone.
However, there is a solution. You can buy office chair armrest pads.
They slip over or strap onto the armrests of your chair and provide comfortable padding for your elbows. But also raise the height of your elbow rest so it is easier to rest your elbows whilst typing.
The arm rests below are available on Amazon for just over £10.
They are a budget option, some arm rests are over £30. But they are a cheap option to help to make your chair more comfortable in the short term.
The downside to these types of arm rest is that they do not extend the armrest width ways. Only the height of the elbow rest is raised.
Free DIY way to raise chair armrests:
- Bubblewrap again! It’s the solution to many problems.. I rolled two strips of large bubble wrap and taped the chunks onto each armrest with paper tape. It’s not the best solution but it does help to give a higher surface to rest your elbow on. With a little bit of padding.
- Some old pairs of socks, rolled up inside another sock that you can slip over the armrest to provide a bit more padding.
Cushioning in the Seat Pad
After a day of sitting at a firm chair or a dining chair, you can tend to suffer from the dreaded numb bum!
I’ve been there many times, every day in fact, until I upgraded my computer chair a few years ago.
Fortunately there is a solution for you to save yourself the cost of having to buy a new chair.
A seat cushion on top of your regular chair is a perfect way to extend the use and life of an uncomfortable chair.
It provides support and cushioning by its contoured shape to your legs hips and the bottom of your spine, (tailbone).
This cushion can be used a multitude of chairs, including office chairs, car chairs and even garden chairs.
It is very cushioning and gives enough support in the right places. The contoured shape encourages you to sit with proper posture too, which helps with back problems.
DIY Cushion pad options:
- A piece of tough foam, usually available for around £5 from shops like Dunelm will help provide some added support and comfort. You can cut the foam easily, to fit to the exact shape of your computer chair. (Niall used a foam pad from Dunelm for a few months when he was trying to extend the use of an old hard computer chair.)
- A cushion or folded up blanket is okay as a temporary solution, however after a couple of hours, the cushioning effect if likely to have worn off. Due to the simple fabrics being compressed as you sit on them.
Reduce Eye Strain
There are a number of ways that you can limit the amount of eye strain caused by staring at a computer.
Whilst this doesn’t directly involve your chair, you might actually find you have been sitting in an uncomfortable position on your chair to adjust to help with the strain on your eyes.
- Look at the positioning of your monitor / screen, (the height and distance from your face). Try moving it closer or further away and also make it higher or lower to achieve the correct positioning.
The top of the monitor should be just below eye level. And the distance from your eyes should be at least 20 inches / 51cm away. (About an arms length.)
- Adjust your screen brightness, a screen that is too dark or too bright will contribute to eye strain.
- Blink often (it is easy to have tendency to stare unblinking when you are really focusing.)
Take little breaks for your eyes and look out of the window, or across the room, allowing your eyes to relax and refocus on something long distance.
- Light your office room adequately, you might need to switch to a ‘daylight’ or soft white bulb instead of a ‘warm’ glow bulb. Your room doesn’t have to be as bright as a traditional office environment, but a dim room will create unnecessary eye strain by making your computer screen the main light source.
Also take care with windows and glare cast onto your screen from a natural light source. This will force you to squint, increasing eye strain.
- Consider anti glare/blue light glasses or an anti glare screen filter.
The glasses below come in a set of three and are available in Amazon. They are very affordable and block out the blue light from your screen – which is supposed to reduce headaches and eyestrain.
- A simple one, but it might just help – try enlarging your standard text size on your screen – especially if you deal with a lot of text heavy documents.
(Whilst this may sound like something that doesn’t apply to you, you might not struggle at all to read text on a computer – it is more of a preemptive measure to help reduce eye strain if you’re staring at documents for hours and hours a day.)
- Build a small stack of books to act as a base to sit your computer monitor on. This helped me, as my Mac one day decided to fall forward (the tilt adjust mechanism had given up), which meant the I was having to look down at the screen quite significantly.
Think about your posture and where your feet are positioned when sitting at your desk.
If any of your limbs are scrunched up, your legs are crossed or your feet are tucked underneath your chair, you are probably not helping your circulation.
If you’re like me, (short!) you might have a problem with your feet touching the floor. Mine dangle and the only way they can be flat on the floor is to have the chair at its lowest setting.
(But then the chair is too low to sit at a desk.)
There is a solution – you can put something underneath your feet, to fix your posture.
There are specific products made, to do this job for you. Like the one below.
This HUANUO cushion is an affordable solution to a common problem. It has a soft outer layer, for extra comfort when you’re sitting at a desk all day.
The key thing for me about this foot rest cushion is that it is customisable, it is made up of two cushion pieces so can be raised or lowered.
It can also be used upside down, giving you to option to have a sort of ‘rocking’ footrest to enable you to do some easy ankle exercises whilst working without trying too hard.
(Also good for improving circulation.)
Homemade / Free Footrest Ideas:
- I don’t own a footrest cushion, (I probably should!) but I improvised by shoving a storage box file underneath our desk. It is about 3 inches tall and provides a higher flat surface to rest my feet on.
- You could use a stack of large books, or a storage tub upside down.
- If you want something softer, you could roll up a blanket into a sausage.
- For a proper DIY project, use some old bits of wood, create a little raised step by nailing or screwing the bits of wood together.
Take care to try and get it as flat and level as you possible can though! You could finish it off nicely using some fabric you can find around the house and some wadding from an old cushion.
Get crafty with a hot glue gun or a staple gun to attach, and admire your homemade handy footrest.
I hope some of these ideas may give you some inspiration for how to make your office chair more comfortable.
If you’re not in a position to be buying a new chair, the keep trying different things, through trial and error you might find a great solution.
The worst thing that you can do is to do nothing and put up with being uncomfortable.
Remember to look at your posture in different areas and think about how to create a nice relaxed, supported back and how to stop yourself from sitting hunched forward or crossing your legs.