Skip to main content

Comparison of office chairs with fixed forwards or backwards inclining, or tiltable seats


Three adjustments of an office chair seat: — one inclining +10‡ (forwards), one inclining − 5‡ (backwards), and one being freely tiltable from −8‡ to +19.5‡ — were investigated using two groups of healthy female workers in a field (n=12), and a laboratory study (n=10), respectively. The seat adjustments were examined with regard to effects on foot swelling, lumbar muscular load, backrest pressure and subjective acceptability. Desk-work and typing were compared according to lumbar muscular activity, seat movements (tiltable seat), and backrest pressure. Foot swelling tended to increase with increasing seat height but was not influenced by the ability to tilt the seat or not. With the different seat adjustments lumbar muscular activity did not change systematically in spite of greater backrest pressure when the seat inclined backwards. The tiltable seat was preferred to the others. Typing was associated with a more constrained and tens posture than desk work, because movements, transferred to the tiltable seat, decreased and the muscular load increased. Backrest pressure was highest during typing. A tendency towards gradually increasing restlessness (i. e. seat movements) and increasing forward inclination of the tiltable seat with time was observed.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  • Andersson G (1974) On myoelectric back muscle activity and lumbar disc pressure in sitting postures. Göteborg, Thesis

  • Andersson G, örtengren R (1974) Lumbar disc pressure and myoelectric back muscle activity. Tabular summaries of results from studies of sitting postures. Chalmar University of Technology. Göteborg, Sweden

    Google Scholar 

  • Andersson G, Murphy RW, örtengren R, Nachemson A (1979) The influence of backrest incination on lumbar lordosis. Spine 4:52–58

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Bendix T (1984) Seated trunk posture at various seat inclination, seat heights, and table heights. Human Fact 26:695–703

    Google Scholar 

  • Bendix T, Biering-SØrensen F (1983) Posture of the trunk when sitting on forward inclining seats. Scand J Rehab Med 15:197–203

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Blomquist C, Stone H (1983) Cardiovascular adjustments to graviational stress. In: Shepherd J, Abboud F (eds) Handbook of physiology, section 2, vol 3. Waverly Press, Baltimore, pp 1025–1063

    Google Scholar 

  • Burandt U (1969) Röntgenuntersuchung über die Stellung von Becken und WirbelsÄule beim Sitzen auf vorgeneigten FlÄchen. Ergonomics 12:356–364

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Grandjean E, Hünting W, Pidermann M (1983) VDT Workstation design: preferred settings and their effects. Human Fact 25:161–175

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Hagberg M (1981) On evaluation of local muscular load and fatigue by electromyography. Thesis Stockholm. Arbete HÄlsa 1981:24

    Google Scholar 

  • Holm S, Nachemson A (1983) Variation in the nutrition of the canine intervertebral disc induced by motion. Spine 8:866–874

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Jonsson B (1982) Measurement and evaluation of local muscular strain in the shoulder during constrained work. J Human Ergol 11:73–88

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Jürgens HW (1969) Die Verteilung des Körperdrucks auf SitzflÄche und Rückenlehne als Problem der Industrieantropologie. Ergonomics 12:198–205

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Kelsey J (1975) An epidemiological study of the relationship between occupations and acute herniated lumbar intervertebral discs. Int J Epidemiol 4:197–205

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Magora A (1972) Investigation of the relation between low back pain and occupation. 3: physical requirements: sitting, standing and weight lifting. Ind Med 41:5–9

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Mandal AC (1976) Work-chair with tilting seat. Ergonomics 19:157–164

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Mandal AC (1982) The correct height of school furniture. Human Factors 24:257–269

    Google Scholar 

  • MØller V (1950) ØK, The East Asiatic Company's new building. Dansk KunsthåndvÆrk [in Danish] 23:169–175

    Google Scholar 

  • Nachemson A (1976) The Lumbar spine. An Orthopedic challenge. Spine 1:59–76

    Google Scholar 

  • Porter J, Davis G (1983) An assessement of alternative seating. In: Coombes K (ed) Proceedings of the Ergonomic Society's Conference, Nottingham 1983, pp 202–203

  • Schlegel KF (1956) SitzschÄden und deren Vermeidung durch eine neuartige Sitzkonstruktion. Med Klin 51:1940–1942

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Snorrason E (1969) Rest chair problems. Tidskrift for Fysioterapeuter [In Danish] 51:211–237

    Google Scholar 

  • Staffel F (1884) Zur Hygiene des Sitzens. Zentr Allg Gesundtheitspflege 3:403–421

    Google Scholar 

  • Strasser H (1913) Lehrbuch der Muskel- und Gelenkmechanik, 2. In: åkerblom B (ed) Standing and sitting posture. Thesis Stockholm 1948

  • Wachseler and Learner (1960) An analysis of some factors influencing seat comfort. Ergonomics 3:315–320

    Google Scholar 

  • Winkel J (1982) An ergonomic evaluation of foot complaints among waiters as a basis for job design. In: Noro K (ed) The 8'th Congress of the International Ergonomics Association, Inter Group Corp, Japan, pp 630–631

    Google Scholar 

  • Winkel J (1985) An accurate pletysmograph for measurement of human foot-volume changes [in press]

  • Winkel J, JØrgensen K (1985) Evaluation of foot swelling and lower limb temperatures in relation to leg activity during long-term seated office work. Ergonomics [in press]

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Bendix, T., Winkel, J. & Jessen, F. Comparison of office chairs with fixed forwards or backwards inclining, or tiltable seats. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 54, 378–385 (1985).

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Key words

  • Back
  • Electromyography
  • Muscular load
  • Sitting posture
  • Tiltable seat