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Synchro-tilt mechanism. What is it and why is it so important?

Oct 6, 2021 | Work Culture

Wurk Health Brand

When shopping for an office chair, you may come across a set of terms, one of which is “synchro-tilt mechanism”. But what is it and why your next office chair should definitely have it? Let’s take a quick dive into the science of tilts.

The movement is natural for our bodies. In fact, this research tells us that we change our posture approximately 53 times an hour or once per minute. Doing quite the opposite like staying stiff during a long period of time, can leave us with many negative health effects that will also affect our productivity. We wrote about this topic in the article The human body was never designed for a sedentary lifestyle.

So, static posture = bad, movement = good, got it. But what does the synchro-tilt mechanism have to do with that? The best solution for active work is to utilize your standing desk. If you don’t have this option, even more attention should be paid to an appropriate office chair. Because according to this study, an average office worker spends 5 hours and 41 minutes daily in one.

Office chair mechanism solo

The human body is free to position itself spontaneously, constrained only by gravity. And the office chair should come as close as it can get to allow this free movement while sitting. In other words, when you lean back, the backrest and seat of the chair should closely follow your body. And this is where the synchro-tilt mechanism comes to play. When the natural pivot points of your body (hips and knees) move, the synchro-tilt mechanism makes the seat and the backrest move with them. This is achieved by using a 2:1 ratio when the backrest moves 2 degrees for every 1 degree of seat tilt.

So what are the benefits? When the seat moves slower than the backrest, its front edge stays closer to the floor. Your body is not stretched out to atypical positions. And your feet can remain naturally on the floor, even when you’re enjoying a relaxed position.  Synchro-tilt keeps the torso open, which improves circulation to the legs and better spinal alignment.

Sit-Stand with Entail office chair

Entail is a great all-around office chair with a synchro-tilt mechanism

The perfect balance

Synchro-tilt mechanisms make it easier to move throughout the day. They allow a natural tilt movement that doesn’t stress the body. Every modern synchro mechanism should allow the user to maintain a balanced upright posture while keeping the body relaxed. We call it “dwell”. When properly adjusted, the chair produces efficient energy to counteract the movement of the human body. Allowing to remain in any reclined position with minimal effort.

With regular muscle movement, your blood circulation is optimized (Schoberth, 1978) especially in the lumbar region. This alleviates lower back pain, commonly associated with long periods of static sitting. Movement pumps nutrients to the intervertebral disc (Anderson, 1981), which are key to spinal function.

Other types of mechanisms

The synchro-tilt mechanism is the most advanced solution for office chairs that currently exists. However, there are other types of mechanisms that serve different purposes.

The knee tilt mechanism has a pivoting point under the seat, just behind the legs. So it requires less effort to tilt backwards and allows the feet to remain on the floor. But because the seat-to-backrest ratio is even, the sitter’s body angles will not naturally open when reclining. This makes the knee tilt ideal for chairs that are not used for heavy work during extensive periods of time, such as conference chairs. These types of chairs don’t require special ergonomic functions. And can be listed with a very attractive price tag. An example is the versatile and stlish Ayles chair that comes with the knee tilt mechanism as an option.

Sources

William R. Dowell, Fei Yuan, Brian H. Green – Office Seating Behaviors an Investigation of Posture, Task, and Job Type

Schoberth (1978), “Vom richtigen sitzen am arbeitsplatz,” University of Frankfurt, Ostsee Clinic.

Andersson (1981), “Epidemiologic aspects of low-back pain in industry,” Spine.

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