If you love gaming then it makes perfect sense that you will want to get a good gaming chair for your gaming room pretty soon. But are gaming chairs good for your back? Or will these ergonomic chairs leave you in agony after hours of hardcore gaming?
In this guide, we are going to explore whether these chairs are in fact good for a healthy posture and we will show you the best chair features to look out for if you want to keep those backaches away
How Your Sitting Posture Affects Your Back
The main reason some chairs are tougher on your back than others is due to poor posture in these different chairs.
Sitting for extended periods of time can have an impact on your back regardless of the type of chair you use. This is because about 40 – 90% more pressure is added onto your spine when you sit down. In some sitting positions, the pressure in certain parts of your spine increases. Combine that increase of pressure with restricted blood circulations and it becomes pretty obvious why you might be feeling a lot more pain.
The right chair can make a huge difference in your sitting comforts and in the amount of pain you feel because a chair with proper support can help you sit in a healthier position and prevent bad posture. This healthier sitting position reduces the pressure on your spine and promotes blood circulation.
Are Gaming Chairs Good for Your Back
Gaming chairs are specifically designed for sitting for long periods of time because gamers are known to sit for hours on end when they become intrigued by a game.
The chairs are healthy or good for your back because they often come with ergonomic features that support healthy sitting postures, reduce tension in certain parts of your back, and promote healthy blood circulation throughout your body and legs.
But not all gaming chairs are made alike. Cheaper brands might not have the needed design to offer adequate support and some chair types are more suitable for certain body types.
Cheap gaming chairs are usually made with limited adjustable features and they usually have poor quality foam and upholstery materials that might not offer you enough support. These chairs also usually have a maximum bodyweight limit of 250 pounds and might not hold up for larger users.
Premium gaming chairs might have all the bells and whistles but might be designed for a specific body type and might not suit your unique physique. For example; a chair with a short backrest is ideal for shorter users but might leave a taller person in agony because the lumbar support and headrest are positioned in the wrong area.
All in all, a quality gaming chair can be very good for your back but only if you chose a chair that suits your body type, health needs, and that has a quality design.
Gaming Chair Features that Support Back Health
As we mentioned before; a quality gaming chair is often specifically designed for certain criteria of people. The type of features you need for a healthy back may differ for each body type. But here is a quick look at a couple of gaming chair features you should research and consider before you hit that ‘add to chart’ button.
A tall backrest
Most cheap office chairs are designed with a low or mid-rise backrest because you usually don’t lie back that much when you have to work at an office desk. But when you enjoy gaming, you are much more likely to lean back into the comfortable chair.
The backrest of gaming chairs is usually taller which is very important because it will support your entire vertebral column or spine (The spine runs along the entire length of your back down to your tailbone). Gaming chair backrest heights usually range from 30 – 33 inches in height.
For shorter people, it is best to focus on a chair with a 30-inch backrest while taller individuals can consider a chair with a 33-inch backrest.
A wide backrest
Most gaming chairs have a bucket seat design with ‘wings’ on the side that look similar to racing car seats. These wings are included for aesthetics and can help small individuals sit comfortably but they are usually pretty annoying to bigger people. If you are a large person then it is best to find a chair with an extra-wide backrest or one that doesn’t have a bucket seat design.
Reclining and tilting features can be very handy for gamers who might want to take a break between games and can offer maximum comfort for resting. This type of feature can also be good for your back because being able to tilt your seat back can help you find a more comfortable sitting position that reduces the pressure on your spine. It is also good to be able to alter your sitting position regularly so you won’t pinch certain veins in your body for too long.
Affordable reclining chairs usually offer tilt and rock features and some can even allow you to recline up to 135 degrees but most only offer a 130-degree recline angle. The more expensive gaming chairs usually have a tilt tension control feature, rocking feature and can recline up to 180 degrees.
Robust reclining can be very good for relieving spinal pressure and a rock function can boost movement so you won’t keep sitting in the exact same position for hours on end. But these chairs often come at a hefty price compared to chairs with fewer adjustable features.
The 135-degree recline angle puts the least amount of pressure on your spine and is the optimal gaming position but a deep recline can also be very beneficial for switching out your position or for taking breaks.
Gaming chairs are often considered healthier for your back compared to office chairs. This is usually because a gamer chair encourages recline sitting while office chairs usually don’t have enough neck support and often encourage slouching which is quite unhealthy for your body.
Proper neck support
Ergonomic office chairs can be used for gaming but it is not recommended because they usually don’t offer enough neck support. These chairs are intended for sitting upright as you would when you are busy typing. But when you enjoy gaming at a 135 degree sitting angle in a standard office chair, your head will keep extending forward as you play. This slouching position you naturally assume in a bad chair is hardly healthy for your posture.
The best chair for your back will offer good neck support. Some gaming chairs come with built-in neck cushions while others come with a loose height-adjustable external neck pillow. The loose headrest pillow is sometimes preferable since you can adjust it in height or exchange it with a fresh one when it becomes worn out.
If you have to pick an office chair then you should look for a quality chair that comes with adjustable neck support so you can work comfortably and enjoy proper back support when it is game time. The best chair for proper neck support is the one that comes with a separate headrest that is height adjustable and that can tilt forward and backward as can be found in executive chair designs.
Gaming chairs often come out with built-in lumbar support in the form of a contoured backrest. These can be good for your back but usually don’t offer enough support.
Gaming chairs that come with a loose lumbar support pillow are often considered better because you can move the lumbar cushion up and down to get the needed support. The lumbar cushions can also come with additional features like a warming function or massage function that assists in promoting healthy blood circulation.
It is best to get a gaming chair with a removable lumbar cushion. That way you can remove the detachable pillow if it becomes worn out or replace it with one that offers the support you need.
If you are choosing an office chair for gaming then you should look for a chair that offers adjustable lumbar support.
These chairs usually have additional components in the backrest that can be adjusted in height and width so you can adjust it according to your unique height and back design.
Seat angle and lock
Expensive gaming chairs often have seats that can angle back or forward. Sitting at a good back angle can help reduce lower back pain while chairs with a forward tilt angle can be better for reducing tailbone pain since your upper body won’t direct pressure directly down your spine but down your legs as well.
If you are looking for a chair with an adjustable seat angle, you should also keep an eye out for an angle lock function. Angling your seat back or forward won’t help much if it keeps springing back into its original position.
A good chair with seat angle adjustment and the lock can prevent poor circulation and will naturally strengthen your core muscles. But be sure to keep an eye on the weight capacity of these chairs since many of them are not designed to handle bigger people.
The seat dimensions can also have an impact on your sitting comfort. If the seat pan is too long it can cut off circulation to your lower legs. A seat pan that is too short, on the other hand, can put too much pressure on your back which can result in pain and tension.
For shorter individuals, it is best to choose a seat depth of below 18 inches. Taller individuals should look for a seat depth of 20.5 inches or more.
You can also look out for a chair that has an adjustable seat depth. These chairs are pricey but they can be very comfortable to sit on, especially if the seat is covered with a thick layer of memory foam or high-density foam.
Your seat width can also impact your back health. If you sit in a chair that is too wide, you can easily sit in an awkward side position that isn’t good for your health. Seats that are too slim are also uncomfortable to sit on.
Most gaming chairs have a seat width of about 16 inches but if you weigh over 250 pounds then it is best to get a chair that is a bit bigger.
The healthiest sitting position is with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. If you sit with your knees at 90 degrees and your feet are not touching positioned flat on the floor then the chair is too high. You can overcome this issue with a footstep but it is always best to invest in a chair that is of proper height.
Modern gaming chairs all come with adjustable seat height functions but if you are extremely tall or extremely short then it might be best to do some research on the minimum and maximum height before you buy because the height adjustment might sometimes fall short if you are above or below average in length.
Armrest height can also impact your back and has the biggest impact on your shoulders and neck. If the armrests are too high, your shoulders will be hunched upwards when you sit down.
This will cause your neck to crimp inward and can result in terrible neck cramps. Armrests that are too low, on the other hand, won’t offer any shoulder or neck support and can cause you to feel fatigued.
3D and 4D armrests are pretty popular amongst gaming enthusiasts these days because you can adjust them in height, move them forward or backward and some can even be tilted sideways.
These types of chairs with their 3D armrest designs are best suited because they can make a huge difference in the shoulder and neck tension and armrests with extra padding are ideal for reducing the chances of getting carpal tunnel syndrome.
So, are gaming chairs good for your back? We certainly believe so and if you consider all of these chair features, it becomes pretty clear that a high-end gaming chair might be much better for a healthy spine compared to an average office chair.
If you are shopping for the best gaming chair for a short person, a gaming chair for a tall person, or if you need a gaming chair with speakers and vibration then you should have a look at some of our other guides. On ChairsWiki, we can help you find a good and sturdy chair to sit on no matter what your chair and sitting needs might be.