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What should I look for when buying a chair?

How high should my chair be?

Many people think they can only be comfortable in a low chair, but a high chair can be just as comfortable – and probably more so if you have back pain. A higher chair makes getting up much easier, as you're almost half-way up already.

Choose the highest chair you can that allows you to place your bare feet flat on the floor while sitting in it. This will stop your legs from dangling uncomfortably and causing pins and needles. Check that you can get up from it easily.

If you find a chair you like but it's the wrong height, ask the shop assistant about having it altered.

Are armrests important?

Painful joints can make it difficult to use the armrests on a chair. However, using the armrests can be as effective in helping you get up as having a higher chair. Look for:

  • a good handgrip – armrests are easier to grip if they're made of wood and stick out a few inches, as this will allow you to wrap your fingers around the end
  • padding for comfort and warmth
  • the right height – if you have to hunch your shoulders when you rest your arms on the armrests, they're too high, but if your elbows don't reach then they're too low
  • the right length – if the armrests stick out too far beyond the front legs it can sometimes tip the chair up when you put your weight on it.

What can help me get up from my chair?

Choose a chair that allows you to tuck your feet back underneath you. This will make it easier to get up because you can bring your weight over your feet more quickly. Check that your chair has space at the front beneath the seat.

Special chairs to help you stand up

If you find it difficult to stand up from a chair, you may find motorised chairs or spring-assisted seats useful:

Motorised chairs

Motorised chairs use an electric mechanism to lift the seat and bring you to a standing position. Make sure the chair still follows the other guidelines in this section and complies with the British Standards Electrical Safety Standards.

Spring-assisted chairs

Spring-assisted seats can be useful but are often uncomfortable. They have to be adjusted to your weight, so you'll need to be careful if other people use it because it may cause an injury if they're much lighter than you.

Assisted chairs

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