In the ergonomics world, there has been controversy on whether desk chairs should have armrests. Armrest reduces strain on the shoulder and spine hence minimizing back tension and neck pain. On the contrary, office chairs without arms is a great way to save office space as it can easily slide under a desk. It is also less expensive compared to the one with armrest. Using a desk chair with or without an arm is a matter of personal preference regarding your needs and the comfort you get from the choice. Answering the question of whether a desk chair should have armrest or not depends on your outlook on the pros and cons of each. The following are some of the pros and cons of chairs with arms.
The Benefits of Desk Chair with Armrest
1. Provide a place to rest your arms
The hand and arms comprise about 12% of your total body mass, a significant weight to hold up unassisted for many hours. An office chair with arms provides a resting place to your elbows when needed. When seated, the arms should be in a position to move freely and have opportunities for support, making a chair armrest crucial. This point is one of the downsides of the armless chair.
2. Alleviate stress on the spine
Armrest chairs prevent back tension and pain by the support they give you while sitting. They distribute the weight on your back evenly, avoiding pressure on your lower back, causing tension and discomfort. They also help in reducing spine load by about 10% of your body weight.
3. Relieve loads on the neck and shoulders
Properly configured desk chair armrest provides proper forearm support. The support helps in the relaxation of trapezius and deltoid muscles, which reduces neck and shoulder pain. The support of the upper body helps you feel comfortable even after prolonged sitting.
4. Aid to standing up and sitting down
The armrest of a chair acts as an excellent aid when standing or sitting down, especially for those with hip issues. When standing up with the armrest’s assistance, the force in the hips reduces by about 50%.
5. Delays fatigue
Working on a desk chair with an armrest slows down the onset of fatigue. Extending the arms forward to the working table without support results in fatiguing the neck, back and shoulders more easily. Fatigue reduces overall productivity.
Cons of armrest
1. Can encourage bad posture
Poor positioning or improper use of armrest can help lousy posture. Using desk chairs with armrests creates risk factors of leaning posture and shoulder shrugging. Armrest promotes habitual leaning on one or the other side. Supporting your arm and shoulders along with an Armrest throughout the day develops an inferior position. You feel the support, but you hold a shoulder-shrugging posture, which creates tension across the neck and shoulder. Shoulder shrugging leads to the potential risk of developing a musculoskeletal disorder.
2. More expensive
A desk chair with an armrest is more costly compared to an armless chair. The arms of a desk chair involve intensive engineering aspects contributing to more cost used in making a desk chair with armrest. Although armrest has significant benefits making the extra cost worth it, you can keep the additional charge as saving if you can do without them.
3. Space intensive
Desk chairs with arms occupy space more than armless chairs. If you have a limited area, arms tend to be more obstacles for you to traverse around. They are also making a chair heavier to carry around compared to the armless.
4. Armrest part damages easily
Armrests are the most vulnerable parts of a chair exposed to damages making the chair less durable. When moved around, the arms of the chair may cause further destruction to the office furniture.
When you are looking for a desk chair, deciding between with arm or without seems to be tricky. The above pros and cons will act as guidelines in making your choice. If appropriately adjusted and adequately used, armrest may help support your back and upper parts to avoid straining. On the other hand, armless chairs are less expensive, more durable, and conserve space. Therefore you can use either of the chairs and it is more of personal preference.