Chair Tilt Tension: Plan B to Sitting all day at your desk

Chair tilt part 2.jpg

Most office chairs available today include many unique ergonomic and support features that can have great benefit to anyone who uses them. Unfortunately, most people sit in the chair and never adjust it to their specific needs. Often the adjustments aren’t made as people don’t know how they work, or that they are there at all!

A recent study found a significant positive association between total sitting time (per hour) and high low back pain intensity 1. As it is not always possible to get up and move regularly in many office jobs, we can get great benefit from using the functions available to us on our chairs to help with this. What if there was a “Plan B”? One of the most beneficial functions of any office chair is the ‘Tilt Tension’ function.

Firstly, the ‘tilt’ is what allows you to recline backwards, or lean forwards as the chair follows, whereas the ‘tension, function allows you to adjust the force needed to tilt. The mechanism works by adjusting the tension to suit your weight and preferred sitting position. This is known as your “tipping point”. This “point” is where the push force that the chair exerts on you is equal to your body weight! So when you sit, you should not feel like you are being pushed forward and you should also feel as though the chair holds you. Ideally there should be enough tension where you can push back slightly with your toes to recline and where the chair will follow you as you sit forward. You should not be able to just fall back into the chair, or it be so rigid that you are unable to recline at all. By using the tilt function, it will allow you to move throughout the day while being supported. This is one of the key benefits of an ergonomic chair with tilt capabilities, it allows active sitting while providing constant support throughout the entire movement.

Ideally there should be enough tension where you can push back slightly with your toes to recline and where the chair will follow you as you sit forward.

Often people feel the key to managing low back pain is using a ridged chair, but often the best position is Movement but with Support! The greater the amount of body movement, the more you will benefit from increased circulation and redistribution of pressure on the back during the workday. By slightly changing position regularly, you distribute the stresses evenly throughout the body to increase the amount of time you can sit comfortably while working. Unfortunately, modern working may not allow us to get up as often as we should, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a Plan B.


Movement - It is important to vary your position regularly to reduce the amount of pressure put on one part of the body. Even a shift of a few degrees either way can be sufficient.

Tension – Adjust the tension to suit your weight, it should not be so rigid that there is no movement, and not so loose that there is no support. It should be comfortable and supportive.


Click/Tap For References ↓

  1. Nidhi Gupta, N., Stordal-Christiansen, C., Hallman, D., Korshøj, M., Gomes-Carneiro, I., & Holtermann, A. (2015) Is Objectively Measured Sitting Time Associated with Low Back Pain? A Cross-Sectional Investigation in the NOMAD study. PLOS One.