Are Gaming Chairs Good For Your Back?

The truth abut using gaming chairs in a home office.

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Last updated: December 19th, 2023

are gaming chairs good for your back

Last updated: December 19th, 2023

Reading Time: 3 minutes

If you’re like me, you’ve noticed the recent explosion in the popularity of gaming chairs and wondered, “Are gaming chairs good for your back?”.

Their rise in adoption was partly driven by a post-pandemic increase in WFH arrangements, with many workers opting for gaming chairs as cornerstones of their home office setups.

The industry is booming, with gaming chair brand Secretlab reporting $350 million in revenue last year alone. But trends aside, is using a gaming chair in your home office a good idea?

(Related: Best Office Chair For Lower Back Pain).

Are Gaming Chairs Good For Your Back?

No. And yet, most ergonomic chair “experts” online quickly reassure you that they are – because they sell gaming chairs via affiliate links.

I don’t have any gaming chairs to sell you, so I’m willing to call a spade a spade. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Compared with a nasty, cheap unergonomic office chair (the type you buy for $60 from Officeworks), a gaming chair is almost always an improvement.

But that’s a bit like saying that dating a chain smoker is an improvement after dating an alcoholic. It’s a crappy argument.

I recommend that you don’t settle for either. Your back will thank you.

You’ll get better lumbar support, superior materials and support for long hours.

Are Gaming Chairs Bad For Your Private Parts?

Yes.

Most gaming chairs look like racing car seats. They are well-padded, which is one of their main selling points.

However, padding translates to increased heat – unless the chair is made from breathable materials.

Expert Tip.

Avoid chairs that make your private regions feel hot – especially if you’re a male. Your swimmers will thank you for it 😉 There’s a reason why part of your reproductive system is outside of your body.

The cheaper the office chair, the less breathable its materials will be. Furthermore, foam inside cheap chairs will be more prone to compression over time, making the chair feel even hotter.

What Are The Differences Between Gaming Chairs And Office Chairs?

While standard office chairs and gaming chairs may appear similar, they have quite different philosophical departure points that lead to very different design decisions.

FEATUREGAMING CHAIROFFICE CHAIR
HeadrestFixedNone or adjustable
Seat Edges WingedWingless
ArmrestsAdjustable armrestsAdjustable or fixed armrests
Front EdgeSloping upwardsFlat or waterfall
ReclineUp to 180 degreesUp to 135 degrees
Design Extravagant, loudMuted
Lumbar SupportDetachable lumbar pillowAdjustable lumbar support or none
ComfortHighModerate
CushioningFirm to tautTaut to soft
Feeling I’m comfortableI’m supported

In a nutshell, gaming chairs prioritise comfort, achieving it through thicker padding, side bolstering and high recline angles in a distinctive race chair aesthetic.

Meanwhile, standard or ergonomic office chairs prioritise adjustability, (sometimes) low cost and a minimalist aesthetic.

Why Are Good Office Chairs Important?

Back and neck pain can be debilitating. Up to 69% of office workers report some for of pain, often associated with poor posture and spending long days in office chairs offering little support. 

Besides limiting your range of motion and mobility, back pain can adversely impact your career and personal relationships.

What Contributes To Back Pain?

Back pain stems from a combination of environmental and congenital factors. Let’s uncover the most common ones to prevent chronic issues. 

1. Posture.

office chair posture

Shown above: the ideal sitting position can be achieved without a gaming chair.

Hunching over requires a different set of muscles to help support your position. Sitting like this for an extended period can cause muscle fatigue, leading to

2. Age.

As you age, your bones lose strength, and your muscles decrease in elasticity and tone. 

It’s crucial for those over 50 to consider supplementing vitamin D and calcium for bone strength and consuming adequate protein to prevent conditions like sarcopenia.

3. Fitness.

Many office workers have increased sedentary behaviour, especially those with work-from-home jobs. Some individuals report sitting for up to 12 hours per day.

Your fitness level can significantly impact the strength of your back muscles. Combating sitting with mobility and exercise is necessary for maintaining your back health long-term. 

(Related: Ergonomic Chairs vs Gaming Chairs: Which Are Best?)

Should You Get A Gaming Chair For Your Back?

Compared with cheap office chairs, gaming chairs can be a good option for your back. That said, they come with loud (did someone say obnoxious?) designs and soft cushions that you may find distasteful and overly cossetting.

If you’re in love with gaming chair features and are bent on buying one despite my appeals, I highly recommend that you don’t buy one online, without an option to sit in it first (or at least an option to return it later).

Remember that a gaming chair (or any chair, for that matter) is not a silver bullet for curing back pain. Remember to incorporate healthy habits into your life, like regular strength training and forming good posture.

In most cases, you’re much better off buying a mid-range ergonomic office chair instead.

Steven

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