The Herman Miller Aeron Chair Review - The Daddy Of Ergonomic Chairs For Your Back

It has an iconic design that is famous the world over. But does the Herman Miller Aeron chair stand up to all the high praise it gets? And is it good for your back? 

​You're probably already familiar with the Herman Miller Aeron chair even if you haven't heard the name before. 

Because they have been around for so long and are so popular that you see them almost everywhere. ​

So much so that for me when someone says 'ergonomic chair' my mind immediately conjures up this one. ​

And if you're one of the lucky ones you may even have one already at home or in your office. ​

Which is great because not only are they very nice to look at.

They are also incredibly well designed and can be adjusted to the finest detail to fit any individual perfectly.

Which is such an important thing for people that suffer from back pain.

Because it will relieve the pressure and strain you get from sitting by encouraging you to sit with a healthy posture and ​keeping your muscles active throughout the day. 

So getting yourself a good ergonomic chair makes sense really. ​

And there are so many of them on the market to choose from.​

So why does the Herman Miller Aeron chair get so much attention?

Does it actually deserve it's celebrity status?​

And is it the best bet for getting rid of back pain while sitting?

Read on and find out the answers to those questions and more.

**Please note that this is a review of the newly designed and updated Aeron chair as of 2017. Features on older models may differ.

The Herman Miller Aeron Chair At A Glance

Features

  • Extremely adjustable all over.
  • PostureFit SL lower back support.
  • Tilt mechanism with 4 lock positions.
  • 8-zone pelicle mesh on the back of the chair and seat to distribute pressure evenly.
  • 3D adjustable armrests.
  • 5-point castors base.
  • 12-year warranty.

Ergonomics

  • Tension of tilt mechanism can be adjusted to match your bodies movement.
  • Tilt lock has 4 positions (neutral, engaged, mid- and full-recline).
  • Seat angle has 2 adjustments (neutral & engaged).
  • Two built-in adjustable PostureFit SL pads to support the lumbar and sacral regions.
  • Fully adjustable arms that can be moved up, down, in, out, backwards and forwards.
  • Adjustable seat height.

Comfort

  • Curved design allows you to easily adopt a comfortable and relaxed 'S' shaped posture.
  • Able to be fine-tuned to the finest detail to ensure comfort and support.
  • Pelicle mesh is breathable keeping you cool and comfortable.
  • It's also zoned so it's softer in places you don't need such firm support.
  • Tilt mechanism allows your body to move naturally during the day, increasing comfort.
  • You can also recline to relax and ease the pressure.

The Ergonomics

Sitting in a generic one size fits all type of office chair can cause big problems for your back.

Because these chairs generally offer no lumbar support and make it nigh on impossible to maintain a healthy sitting posture.

And this will only cause you pain and tension.​

Which is why investing in an ergonomic chair is such a good idea for people who suffer with back pain while they are sitting.

Because these chairs can be finely tuned to fit any individual.

Which will encourage you to sit with a healthy posture while taking the pressure off your back, neck and shoulders.

And when in comes to great chair ergonomics the Herman Miller Aeron chair is the Daddy of them all.

As it comes with the following adjustable features that can be fine-tuned to the most precise detail:​

​Seat Height

To be able to sit with a healthy posture you firstly need to do two things:

  • Sit at a height that suits the desk or workstation you are using.
  • Keep both feet placed comfortably on the floor while maintaining a 90 degree angle in your hips and knees.

Fortunately the Herman Miller Aeron chair allows you to adjust the height of the seat easily so you can do both of these things.

Simply use the paddle-shaped lever under the right hand side of the chair to activate the pneumatic lift and either raise or lower the seat to suit you.​

​Seat Angle

The seat angle can also be changed slightly to take some pressure off your thighs as you sit.

There are two positions included with this chair; neutral and engaged.

Neutral is the flat position that you will use when sitting upright or reclined.

However you can also choose the engaged position which will tilt you forward slightly.

And this can be handy for when you are typing away on the keyboard for an extended period of time. 

PostureFit SL Support

The Herman Miller Aeron chair comes with built-in support for your lower back in the shape of the PostureFit SL pads.

This consists of two individual pads in the back of the chair.​

One is to provide stability for your sacrum (base of your spine) while the other is to provide support for your lumbar region (lower back).

And the good news is that these can be adjusted so you can position them exactly where you need them.

Simply turning the relevant knob​ while sitting in the chair will either bring the PostureFit pads closer into your body or take them further away.

Which means you can get them them right into the snug of your lower back to help you maintain a healthy and natural spinal alignment.​

You can play around with it until it feels right for you.

And this also allows you to make slight adjustments depending on which sitting position and angle you choose.​

So you remain supported in every position.​

Tilt Mechanism

Which brings me on nicely to the tilt mechanism.

This controls the amount of resistance you feel when leaning back in the chair.​

And this is probably the best feature of the Herman Miller Aeron chair for your back as it keeps you moving and your core muscles active while you sit.

You can adjust the tension of​ the tilt to make it harder or easier on your body depending on your needs and preferences.

​And you can also lock it in place if you find a position that feels comfortable for you.

There are 4 locked positions available on this chair:​

  • Neutral - This is the default and keeps you sitting in an upright 90 degree angle.
  • Mid-recline - This allows you to recline halfway back.
  • Full- recline - This allows you to recline back to the maximum to fully relax.
  • Engaged - This allows you to tilt forward by 5 degrees.

So you are fully supported no matter which angle you decide to sit in.

3D Adjustable Armrests

Another important element of any ergonomic chair is the ability to adjust the armrests.

This ​is because positioning the armrests at the right height and angle will greatly reduce the pressure and strain on your upper back, neck and shoulders.

And the Herman Miller Aeron chair allows you to fully adjust the armrests using a small lever ​to the back of them as follows:

  • Adjust the height up or down anywhere between 6.8" - 10.8" above the seat.
  • Move them forwards or backwards by up to 2.5".
  • Turn them inwards (up to 17.5 degrees) or outwards (up to 15 degrees).

Which are all great features as you can then adjust the armrests to suit different tasks.

What Makes It So Good For Your Back?

Is this a regular occurrence on your current chair?

Back pain from prolonged sitting is made worse by two things:

  • The build up of pressure and strain on your muscles and joints from sitting with a poor posture.
  • Your core muscles and the muscles that support your spine weakening due to a lack of activity.

And fortunately the Herman Miller Aeron chair addresses both of these problems.

Which makes it a top choice for anyone who suffers from back pain while sitting.​

Easing the Pressure and Strain of Sitting

The curved design of the Herman Miller Aeron chair is not just pleasing on the eye, it also plays a big part in helping you to relieve pressure as you sit.

Because it's shaped in such a way that it encourages your body into a healthy posture as you sit by maintaining a natural 'S' shaped curve in your spine.

And sitting with a healthy posture will mean that pressure is spread evenly throughout your body rather than building up in your lower back area.

Bad posture equals back pain!

Another great feature in this chair are the PostureFit SL support pads.

As not do they support and stabilise your lower back and sacral region while you sit.

By moving them into position they also make it easy and natural to keep this healthy curve in your lower spine.​

Which also helps to relieve pressure.

Another great way to support yourself and make sure pressure is spread evenly as you sit is to make sure both feet are placed on the floor.​

​Which the Aeron chair makes easy to do with it's easily adjustable seat height.

Then we come to the pelicle mesh that is used in the back and seat of the chair.

This has been designed to have 8 different zones of varying tension so that you have more support in places where you need it.

And this also helps to distribute the pressure evenly as you sit, taking the strain away from your lower back.​

The tilt mechanism is also good for pressure relief as it allows you to change position and recline if you need to rest and take a break.

And the fully adjustable armrests do a great job of releasing tension from your upper back, neck and shoulders.

So as you can see the Herman Miller Aeron chair is great for relieving pressure as it keeps you well balanced, supported, and in a good posture as you sit. ​

Keeping Your Core Muscles Active 

You also need to keep your core and trunk muscles active as you sit if you want to avoid back pain.

This is because they will weaken ​if you allow them to sit dormant (literally!).

And as they are responsible for supporting your lower back and spine this is bad news!

Because less support for your spine equals more pain in your back.​

This is where the Herman Miller Aeron chair really comes into it's own for me.

Because it ingeniously mirrors your body's natural movements and allows you to subtly but constantly change positions while you sit.​

It's able to do this because of the tilt mechanism.

As this allows you to rock back and forth in your chair and remains responsive every time you move.

So your core muscles have to remain active and alert at all times while you sit.​

There's no room for them to become lazy in the Aeron chair!​

You can also adjust the tension of the tilt to make it harder or easier to lean back depending on how much of a workout you want to give your core​.

​And a stronger core will make a big difference to your sitting experience.

So overall I'd say the Herman Miller Aeron chair is great for people with bad backs.

As it does a good job of both relieving pressure and keeping your core muscles active throughout the day.​

How Comfortable Is It?

Herman Miller Aeron Chair, Size B, Graphite

​Having a supportive chair is fantastic but it's no use unless you can also feel comfortable while sitting in it.

And while the Herman Miller Aeron chair is comfortable to sit in for most people, it may not be to everyone's tastes.

As it may take some getting used to.

Because if you're used to sitting in padded chairs that allow you to slouch, the sensation of the supportive mesh and being thrust into a healthier sitting posture will feel strange at first.

But once your body adapts you will never want to go back again.

​And the Aeron chair has lots of things going for it comfort wise too.

Firstly the curved design and ergonomics allow you to sit ​with a comfortable and natural posture that takes away pressure and strain on your body.

While the tilt mechanism allows you to move naturally throughout the day keeping you comfortable and relaxed.

Also the tilt lock positions are great as they allow you to recline back and find a comfortable position to take a break in.

Then there is the pelicle mesh in the back and seat of the chair which will divide opinion.

Because as it's designed for support it may feel a bit too firm for some​ to sit in.

​However the 8 zones of varying tension means it is only firm where it needs to be and stays a bit softer in other areas to improve your comfort.

And the big advantage this mesh has over padded chairs is it's breathable.

This means that air and moisture can pass through it as you sit.

Keeping you cool and comfortable rather than becoming hot and sweaty which is a problem in leather or padded chairs.

So while the Herman Miller Aeron chair isn't designed primarily for comfort it still remains a comfortable chair once you get used to it.​

Different Sizes And Types Of The Herman Miller Aeron Chair

The Aeron chair comes in 3 different sizes depending on your height and weight, so you need to make sure you choose the right one to fit you.

  • Size A - 25.75" wide, 38.5" high. Suitable for people between 4'10" - 5'9" and 90lbs - 150lbs.
  • Size B - 27" wide, 41" high. Suitable for people between 5'2" - 6'6" and 130lbs - 325lbs. 
  • Size C - 28.25" wide, 43" high. Suitable for people between 5'3" - 6'6" and 180lbs - 350lbs.

If you're buying online your safest bet is a size B as this seems to fit most people.

However it may be worth checking the sizes out for yourself at your local department store before ordering.

There are also different models of the Aeron chair available.

It went through a re-design in 2017 and the one I'm reviewing here is the latest model.​

However there are a few older versions that are still available and these are still great chairs too.

Just make sure you are getting the one you think you are getting!

And finally Herman Miller have just released a version of this chair for those that work at higher surfaces and workstations called the Herman Miller Aeron Stool.

Herman Miller Aeron Drafting Stool Size B with After Market Drafting Ring

This is a great idea and has all the same features and benefits of a regular Aeron chair.

Although it may be a bit extravagant for your breakfast bar!​

Pick Up A Used Model If You Want To Save Some Cash

Now while I think the Herman Miller Aeron chair is a great chair and a very worthwhile purchase for anyone who suffers from back pain there is one major drawback.

And that is the price.

Because these chairs don't come cheap!

​But you do have options if you want an Aeron chair but also want to save some cash.

Because as these chairs are so popular and have been around since 1994 there are plenty of places you can ​pick up used ones at a knockdown price.

So keep your eyes peeled at second-hand furniture stores or yard sales.

Also check craigslist to see if anyone is selling one in the classifieds.​

And a good site that sells returns, exchanges and floor models of Aeron chairs for discounted prices are officedesignsoutlet.com.​

​Buying from a company like this gives you more peace of mind and guarantees you are getting a quality product.

In fact some of these chairs are as good as new and you can save yourself a few hundred dollars on the list price.​

However when buying a used Aeron chair just make sure you know what you are getting.

As there are a few different models and some don't have certain features that may be important to you.

But ask a few questions beforehand and ​this is a great way of getting your hands on a top quality chair at a bargain price!

>> The Back On Site Verdict <<

So back to my original questions, does the Herman Miller Aeron chair live up to the hype?

For me it definitely does and I think this chair is especially good for those of us with back pain.

The ergonomic features are second to none and will really allow you to reduce the pressure on your body as you sit.

Plus they make sitting with a healthy posture a doddle.

There is also good lumbar support included here and being able to tailor it to suit you is a really good feature.

And while the mesh may feel a bit firm for some at first, once you get used to sitting on an Aeron it will feel really comfortable.

So if you're looking for an ergonomic chair to help reduce your back pain and want the very best the Herman Miller Aeron chair could be the one for you.

Just be warned that they are not cheap and for that reason may not be the right chair for everyone.

For instance if you only use your chair for a few hours per week then you can probably get away with a cheaper model.

However if you use it for a few hours every day then an Aeron chair is a great investment in your long-term health.

And remember that you can also pick these chairs up used if you want to snag yourself a bargain.

So give an Aeron chair a run out in your home or office.

Not only will it look good, your back will feel much better from using it too.​

PROS

  • Can be finely-tuned to fit any individual.
  • Tilt mechanism allows your body to move naturally, keeping muscles engaged.
  • ​PostureFit lumbar support pads support and stabilise your lower back and sacral areas.
  • Adjustable arms take the strain off your upper back, neck and shoulders.
  • Curved design makes it easy to maintain natural posture.
  • 8 zones of differing tension in the pelicle mesh of the back and seat means pressure is evenly distributed.
  • Breathable mesh keeps you cool and comfortable.
  • Built to last and comes with a 12-year warranty.
  • New design as of 2017.
  • It's iconic and will look great in your home or office.

CONS

  • Comes with a hefty price tag.
  • The pelicle mesh may feel a bit too firm for some.

Overall Back On Site rating: 4.8 out of 5 stars

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Daniel

I'm a Painter and Decorator, psychology graduate, and veteran of 5 spinal surgeries. I want to help my fellow construction workers to fight back against persistent back pain like I have.

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