Ask a Medic: Does my chair need a headrest? A Secret Lab head pillow.

The SecretLab Omega is a favorite gaming chair that can be enhanced with a head cushion.

(Image credit: Secret Lab)

Many gaming chairs have headrests. However, many office chairs do not. To have an ergonomic setup, do I need a headrest?

Although it is unlikely, it is worth discussing why you don’t require a headrest. Your cervical spine supports your head and has the same lordotic curve as your lumbar spine. (See my advice on lumbar support). The curve is slightly inwards and towards the front of your body. Many gamers and people who use their phones improperly can develop forward head posture. Also known as “text neck”, this is when the head is further forward than the shoulders.

About the author

Caitlin McGee, a physical therapist, has a background in neuroscience as well as exercise/sport science. 1HP is her company, which provides performance and health services for esports teams, players, and organisations. She has been involved in esports medicine since 2006.

However, not all forward head positions are dangerous! It may be normal anatomical variations of the upper cervical vertebrae. Other people may have poor posture, weak muscles or compensations from other muscle groups. The most common causes are the tightening and shortening of the deep neck flexor muscles, as well as the weakening of the larger sternocleidomastoid muscles on either side. This pillow, just like the one for the lumbar spine is too big for safe and comfortable use. It can even cause worse postures than the original.

Are your ears positioned above your collarbones or further forward?

A headrest is not always a good choice. A headrest can be helpful if you are gaming for long periods of time. It can serve two purposes: as an external cue or as a place to rest your head against. It’s possible to maintain a straight, upright position for your neck and back without a headrest.

What is a Health Kit?

The current AMD support for Health Kit allows PC Gamers to cover health, ergonomics and wellness.

Have someone take a photo of you from the side to see if your neck is in a forward position while you play. Next, take a picture of you from the side and compare your ears with your collarbones and shoulders. Do your ears rest right above your shoulders? If so, congratulations! You’re in a nice, neutral head position. Are your ears positioned above your collarbones or further forward? Your head is starting to tilt forward. You might need to improve your neck endurance and deep neck flexor muscles endurance. Sometimes you will need more support, sometimes you will need less. A headrest is not necessary for good posture. However, you need to be in a good position to use a headrest to its full potential.

Our ergonomics tips page has more information

Guide to PC Gaming Ergonomics

Our general advice

Good posture is key to a good desk position