Trouble Shooting Swivel Chairs

Have you ever sat on a pedestal/swivel chair that doesn’t rock? It seems 98% of swivel chairs rock.

Firstly, what is a ‘Swivel Chair”? By my definition, a swivel chair is a chair that’s usual defining factor is the seated area of the chair spins independently of the base of the chair, thus being able to turn around 360 degrees without moving the base of the chair. This differentiating factor being most noteable at the coupling, the mechanism point at which it turns. The single pedestal is the most obvious outward sign of a swivel chair.

Have you ever sat on a swivel chair that doesn’t rock?

Everything in the lower price bracket of the market does rock, will rock or is a variation of a design flaw that causes it to rock, eventually!

A top of the range chair like the makers ‘Herman Miller’ offer will set you back a small fortune. Other makers in the market, such as ‘IKEA’, also make quality swivel chairs that don’t rock much. So what is so important about a swivel chair that doesn’t rock, you may well ask, but first ask yourself this:

  1. Does my swivel chair rock?
  2. Do I have a sore back or back problems, particularly the lower back?
  3. Do I sit on a swivel chair for an extended period, at anytime during the seven days of the week?
  4. Do I feel fatigued, physically and mentally, after an extended period of sitting on a swivel chair?

If you answer yes to all, or most of these questions, then it could well be that you need to get yourself a new chair. Either a swivel chair that doesn’t rock or use a conventional chair, which is a cheaper alternative. Productivity should increase, back unease should diminish, and enjoyment in your work should increase …maybe just a little bit!

Now I’m not saying that the chair is 100% of the problem! I am saying that were you to upgrade this overlooked common problem inherent in the design of 99% (I’m guessing) of swivel chairs, you may find a bit of an improvement in, what usually is your working conditions. In general health the issue is more of an accumulative/progressive effect, better stopped before a problem becomes irreversible.

The design flaw is due to the male/female coupling mount, which swivels, being a perfect match when new and parallel, sometimes faulty from the start. After some time of hard use the male/female coupling experiences wear. Eventually, the once tight fit is worn to the point where the chair rocks at this coupling point, thus the whole upper chair rocks.

This does not happen with a coupling that is tapered, both the male/female joint, like the ‘Herman Miller’ one I examined. That is to say that in the case of the Herman Miller swivel chair the older the chair gets the further into the coupling the two parts fit and thus continually alleviating the cause of rocking.

If in doubt run a minor experiment on yourself by replacing your swivel chair for a conventional chair. Note how you feel and after a month replace the pedestal chair for a month and repeat X 3. If you discern no difference then that is good, if there is a difference and it is significant, either buy a better swivel chair or use a conventional chair.

If you run this experiment then please get back to me with the results!


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