Back to Basics

A spine expert sizes up the performance of two of the latest ergonomic chairs.

Any ergonomic chair worth the name will attend to the spine, reinforcing its gentle S-curve with solid lower-back support. But beyond the static seated posture, Allsteel asserts that its new Acuity—designed by Bruce Fifield and released this month at NeoCon—conforms to the spine as it changes throughout a range of motion. This echoes the claim of another recently launched task chair, Wolfgang Deisig’s Metrix for Teknion, inviting a ­competitive test-drive between them. Though it may be easy enough to tell what feels good, the science of the spine is something of a dark art to the layperson, so we sought out professional expertise.

Dr. Alexander Lee, a partner and attending physician at the Beth Israel Medical Center’s Spine Institute of New York, specializes in rehabilitation and is working on a book about posture. “What feels most natural is to be pretty much in spine-neutral,” the self-described “ergonomic-chair freak” says of sitting. “If you get in the correct position, that’s when you feel the center of gravity right through your spine, from the top of your head out through your tailbone.” After trying out each chair during a typ­ical workday, Dr. Lee concluded that both the Metrix and the Acuity were “better than the average task chair”—but he also had a lot to say about their features.

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