Why are arm rests on office chairs important? At Backcare & Seating we recommend height adjustable arms on office chairs. Arms support the upper torso and reduce strain/tension on the shoulder and neck areas when working.

Height adjustable arms are set back and do not get in the road of the desk.

When a user does not have arms on a chair it encourages the user to slump forward on to the desk. This position causes pressure on the spine and can lead to back pain and/or tension in the back.

When sitting at an L-shaped desk in the corner arms can be known to get in the way of being close to the desk – to solve this issue it is recommended to re-position the computer to the side so the user can sit straight on to the desk and be able to use the arms. The other alternative is to lower the arms while working and using them only during rest periods.

Multifunction arm rests are height adjustable as well as being able to adjust in or out and sometimes have  angle adjustment as well. The arms can then be positioned to suit the size of the user so that they are supported.

Benefits of Arms on Office Chairs:

  • Offer the user lateral support
  • Offer the user arm support to relieve tension from shoulder and neck area.
  • Assist the user to get in and out of the chair easily

Myths about Armless Chairs:

  • Armless chairs do not have a smaller footprint as the space they take up is governed by the star base of the chair. The star base is the recommended width to ensure stability of the chair.
  • Chairs with arms won’t fit under the desk – in the past fixed height arms would be caught by the desk. These days there are a wide range of height adjustable arms which can be lowered to fit under the desk.
  • Yes a chair without arms may cost less but if you decide to put the arms on at a later date it is considerably more expensive.
  • Armless chairs do not give relief and support to arms, shoulders, neck and upper back areas.

Some Solutions/Issues with Arm Rests:

  • Arm Rests are positioned too wide
    When the armrests are positioned too widely due to the seat pan width, a user’s shoulders have to abduct (move outwards away from the midline of the body) to be able to effectively rest on them. This requires that the muscles of the neck, shoulder, and spine work very hard to hold the arms up – similar to asking you to hold a weight in your hand in front of you all day where you would find that your forearm muscles would be really tired and sore after a short period of time.
    If a person’s hips require a wider seat pan to accommodate their size, they cannot reach standard armrests that do not swivel, Multifunction Arms that swivel inwards and glide medially (move into towards midline) to allow the arms to rest right next to their body without having to abduct their shoulders is a good solution.
  • Spacers to lower arms
    Spacers can be used when the current setting of the arm is too high even when set at their lowest point. When the arm of the chair is set too high this causes excessive shoulder elevation because it pushes the whole shoulder girdle up towards the person’s ears. This also creates shortening of the shoulder and neck muscles.
    In addition, if the user prefers to use the desk to lean on rather than the armrests, then having spacers means that you can lower them enough to be under the table whilst being able to put the chair up high enough so that your elbows are 90-100 degrees when resting on the desk.