It takes about 2 to 6 weeks to get used to a new office chair.
The length of the transition process depends on attachment to the old chair and muscular development, but there are ways to break into a new chair faster.
In this article, we look at the psychological and physical reasons it takes so long to get used to a new office chair.
We also explore methods for breaking in the new chair faster and making sure you get the most out of the upgrade.
Details that Affect Getting Used to a New Office Chair
Before you can get used to a new office chair, you need to overcome certain psychological and physical attachments you have to your old chair.
Old Chair Comfort:
You spent a lot of time in your old chair. For years, workers have spent an estimated 6.5 hours a day sitting down, especially those working at a desk.
Even at home workers rely heavily on their office chairs to get through the day, and additional features like swivel and roll only make it easier to stay in the chair all day.
During this time your body learns to sit comfortably in the chair (even if you sit improperly).
Most chairs allow you to adjust features like height, and your body conforms to the rest.
It is often difficult for us to find new furniture comfortable, even if it’s an upgrade from the old.
When you’re transitioning from an old, soft, and worn office chair to a new, firmer one, your body is going to need time to make the proper adjustments.
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You could argue that you spend as much time, or more, in your office chair as you do your bed.
It’s easy to become emotionally attached to the level of comfort something constantly adds to your life.
Your office chair may have been with you through a lot. Maybe it’s the one you started on, and you’re making your first upgrade.
Or maybe it has sentimental value, like chairs gifted by friends, family, or mentors.
Emotional attachment can lead to doubt, especially when compounded by questions regarding whether the new chair is more comfortable.
When your body adapts to your old chair, those accommodations customize your muscle development.
If you spend more time slouching or compensation for broken or inadequate features, your muscles end up insufficient for proper posture.
Sitting in a new chair that promotes proper alignment and prevents slouching is likely to be uncomfortable and even mildly painful.
This pain should not persist beyond sitting, although you may experience soreness in extreme cases.
You will not get used to your new office chair until your muscles develop sufficiently to support proper posture, and that feels like an uphill climb.
How Much Time Does it Take to Get Used to a New Office Chair?
The average time to get used to an office chair ranges from 2 to 6 weeks.
This changes depending on your attachment to your old chair and how drastic the difference is.
Physical accommodation takes some time, and it pushes you to the further end of the timeline.
The key is to understand that you will get used to the new office chair down the line.
Your mind and body will adjust to the new chair, and, as long as it is not causing you physical pain, you should notice improvements in under 2 months.
Tips for Breaking in a New Chair
You don’t need to sit back and wait for the magic to happen.
Employ these tips to decrease the time required to adjust to a new office chair.
Understanding What is Normal:
Understand a few things going into your transition and you can set your expectations properly.
This prevents you from throwing in the towel over normal transitional symptoms.
First, view your old office chair with a critical eye. Pay attention to any shortcomings, such as broken adjustment features or a flat seat cushion.
You’ll probably be able to find at least one detail that merits the transition to the new chair.
You should also understand what is different between your old chair and your new chair.
Highlight where your new chair offers superiority, such as ergonomic adjustments or better suiting your body.
Collecting details in these two areas will help you push through the change and make it easier for you to sit through the transition period.
Foregoing Certain Features Until Later:
Speaking of the new features your chair offers - you may want to wait until after you adjust to playing with them.
Changing as few variables at once makes it easier for your body to get used to the chair, and you risk using these features improperly and getting used to that position.
For example, it’s easy to get excited over a chair that offers tilt for relaxation, but you may spend too much time playing with this new feature to get used to the basic function of the chair.
Consider limiting the adjustments that you toy with until your body gets used to the chair for normal purposes.
This speeds up the adjustment time and lets you get the basics down first.
Adjusting to Your Body:
That being said, you should still take advantage of the basic features that fit the chair to your body.
This is more likely to increase your overall comfort and showcase benefits, such as:
- Enhancing proper posture
- Reducing stress and strain on muscles
- Decreasing instances of slouching
Properly adjusting the new office chair to fit your body right off the bat ensures you get used to it as intended.
This differs from toying with complementary features that are not a part of the normal seated posture.
Proper Adjustment for a New Office Chair
If you are upgrading to a modern office chair or a higher-quality chair, you may notice adjustment options for:
- Seat height
- Seat depth
- Backrest height
- Lumbar support
- Arm and headrests
- Tilt lock
Setting these features to your body makes it easier to get used to the chair. Soon you will use the chair without thought, and your old chair will be a fond memory.
Setting seat height is the first change you should make with a new office chair.
Stand in front of the seat facing the office chair, then adjust the height until the seat sits right below your knee caps.
When you sit in the seat, your knees should bend at or around a 90-degree angle.
Not all chairs offer adjustable seat pans, but if yours does, then make this adjustment next.
Slide the seat so that there is enough space between the back of your knees and the edge of the chair to fit your fist when you sit with your back against the back of the chair.
If you are shorter, the seat should move further toward the back to shorten the seat depth. Taller individuals should move the seat forward to increase the depth.
Office chairs with shorter backrests may allow adjustments to provide adequate lumbar support.
Moving the backrest up and down will position it in a way that best supports the natural curves of your spine and allows greater freedom of movement.
For office chairs with integrated or fixed lumber, make sure this feature sits properly to support the curve of your spine.
Your spine should contact this as closely as possible, and it may take a moment to adjust this to the proper position.
Consider adding lumbar support to chairs that do not feature it to improve your seated experience and transition easier.
Read More >> How to Adjust the Lumbar Support for an Office Chair
Arm and Headrests:
Adjustable arms and headrests are less common, but setting them properly lessens the stress of adjusting to a new chair.
Your armrests should be close to the height of your elbows when you sit to type. Likewise, your headrest should sit so it supports the base of your head.
These provide support when resting but should not cradle your body. This lets you build the muscles needed to use your new office chair properly.