Ergonomic chairs vs. traditional chairs: Which is right for you?

by Shaun Tan on Feb 21, 2023

Ergonomic chairs vs. traditional chairs: Which is right for you?

Ergonomic chairs vs. traditional chairs: Which is right for you?

Did you know that normal chairs can cause discomfort and health problems, especially when they don't fit your body? Yeah, that’s right —your favourite traditional a.k.a. normie chair could be secretly hurting you. It’s a good thing there are Ergonomic chairs around! But, what are they? And are they even worth checking out? 

If you spend a lot of time sitting, it just makes sense to pick a chair your body will love. Here at Alterseat, we’ll break down which of the two is right for you!


For as long as humans have sat, chairs have supported their behind. And today’s modern world is no different. Sitting is ingrained in us, whether it’s for work or for rest. On average, Malaysians spend about 6 hours at work sitting at their desk. It may not be a lot, but it can quickly take a toll on your health. All the more reason to get a chair that fits you. Read on through to find the right chair for you. 

Traditional and Ergonomic chairs: What are they anyway?

The world of chairs is vast and wide, with countless options for your butt to choose from. And finding the right one for you can be difficult, especially if you don’t know anything about the space. So, before you dive into the rabbit hole that is traditional and ergonomic chairs, let’s quickly define them. This is also the best time to write down what you think your body needs in a chair. Don’t worry – from all the body aches and back pain, your body will, no doubt, let you in the loop.  Knowing what you want and need from a chair will help lock down the right one for you, faster.

Traditional chairs 

Simply put, these are chairs that don’t provide the same adjustability that ergonomic chairs do. Its main function is to give you support and maintain that position, albeit with relatively less comfort. Even though it has less comfort on longer hours, traditional chairs are reliable and simple.  From the basic stool to the fabulous Peacock chair, they get the job done with no fuss. 

If you’re still confused as to what they are, traditional chairs are basically chairs that don’t adjust to you— you adjust to them. 

Ergonomic chairs

As you know, we’re not all the same, people come in all shapes and sizes from all over the world. From there, we can say that there’s definitely no chair that fits all (not unless that’s a jumbo bean bag chair). And so we arrive at the wonders of ergonomic chairs. These chairs are designed to fit and adjust to your body’s needs. It’s purposely made to address common problems when sitting on a traditional chair for a long time – things like lower back pain, arm numbness, and posture problems. 

So, what’s the big difference?

You might say, “Yeah, yeah, we get it. Ergonomic chairs are good, and traditional chairs can lack that comfort I seek, but HOW are they different in the real world?”

The key concept in differentiating the two is the word “adjustability”. As mentioned earlier, traditional chairs commonly lack wiggle room to fit your unique shape and size. On the other hand, ergonomic chairs offer all the adjustability your heart (body) desires.  

On that note, here are the most common features you’ll find in ergonomic chairs which you won’t find in normal traditional chairs:

Seat height 

To achieve a good starting point, getting the height of your chair is crucial. Your feet need to be evenly planted on the floor (or use a footrest) and your arms at level with your desk. It’s hard to achieve this without any height adjustment feature from your chair. You’ll be left resorting to pillows to raise your height. And believe us when we say that it is not as comfy neither is it ergonomic.

Seat depth 

There’s a misconception that all you need for you to have proper ergonomics is just to have good support for your back. That’s not entirely true! The reason why the depth of the seat has to be adjusted is to help avoid unnecessary pressure on the back of your knees. Not everyone has the same leg length, and as a result, shorter people tend to hit the back of their knees on the edge of the seat. Ideally, there should be at least a 2-4 inches gap from the chair and the back of your knees. 

Seat tilt

The tilt function in ergonomic chairs like the backward tilt function is there to alleviate any pelvic problems. Keeping the pelvis positioned neutrally helps avoid anterior pelvic tilt, a posture problem that is commonly found in those who sit a lot. To add to this, select ergonomic chairs may also have a forward tilt function, which provides optimal support for those who are more comfortable working sitting at the edge of their chair.

Backrest recline

Your spine has its own natural position, and with a reclining backrest, your back can take it easy and offload some of the weight to the backrest. It can be a subtle-reclined angle, or max it out, whatever angle you choose, it’s great to have adjustability there to get that comfortable sweet spot. 

Backrest lumbar support 

Of all the features of an ergonomic chair, this has to be the most crucial one. Due to our spines having a natural “S” curve, your lumbar will need help in supporting this area. If you’re unaware, the lumbar is your lower back. So, if you’ve ever felt any pain in your lower back, that’s probably it - the inadequate lumbar support from your chair. 

Without the lumbar support, maintaining a proper posture will be difficult. Your muscles and spine have to work harder to support your lower back. As you sit for longer hours, the muscles in the lower back start to get fatigued and you eventually begin slouching. Now, that’s a big no-no in the ergonomic world.


The swivel function helps you with manoeuvrability, so you can reach what you need without strain on your body. 


Adjustable armrests help in reducing the stress and tension in your upper body. It allows your shoulders to relax and loosen up.

Which chair is right for you?

It’s now time to figure out which chair will work for you and your needs. To get to that answer, you’ll need to assess and evaluate a few things. 

Will you be sitting for long hours? 

Generally speaking, if you’re sitting for hours and hours, having more adjustability in your posture and position can drastically help prevent any pain and discomfort. Thus, ergonomic chairs would be the right fit. 

Do you constantly experience back pain?

If you’re answering this with a resounding “yes” while slouching over your screen, then it’s a clear answer on which chair to get, right? If you’re experiencing back pain or any other discomfort in your body, then it’s probably high time to get an ergonomic chair. 

Do you want flexibility with your chair?  

Maybe you’re looking for an all-around chair, a chair that can fulfil all your sitting needs, may it be for work or rest. If so, you can’t go wrong with an ergonomic chair at all. It has all the adjustability you need for a long day of various activities and sitting.

Looking for posture support/correction?

Normal chairs may be simple and robust, but they don’t come close to giving the same posture support as a full-fledged ergonomic chair. With normal chairs, the lack of basic ergonomics can greatly affect your body when sat for a long time. The body will tend to lean forward and eventually cause pain. If there’s anything to take home from this article, it’s that you need an ergonomic chair to support your posture so you can sit comfortably for hours on end. 

If you feel good, you’ll do great. 

If your body feels good, surely it’ll translate into whatever you do. With that in mind, it’s a no-brainer that comfort and proper posture should be your top priorities when picking a chair. And when it comes to your body’s posture, remember that the chair you pick, whether it’s ergonomic or not, is only half the battle. The rest is up to you and how you correct it.  

What are you waiting for, hop on Alterseat’s site and explore a collection of high quality, reasonably-priced ergonomic chairs. Grab yours now!