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Height Considerations

Things to Consider if You Are Tall or Short

It can be very tempting to try to match your chair height to the height of your body. Without even thinking, you may find yourself walking around an office supply store, sitting in one chair after another. You adjust the back rest and arm rests then pull on the pneumatic lever to raise or lower the seat. You find a chair which is adjustable to a comfortable height. Your legs are bent at a 90-degree angle. There is no pressure on your back; no strain on your knees.

You decide “This must be the chair for me,” and purchase it without contemplating much else. However, when you get home or to your office, you quickly discover that it is not the chair for you. You spend an hour assembling it; pushing through the frustration of trying understand step-by-step pictures which seem to resemble your child’s drawings more so than actual instructions. Finally, after you finish assembling it you take a seat. You feel accomplishment and pride at having so easily picked out and assembled this chair all on your own.

You adjust the seat height to that perfect height you found in the store, wheel yourself over to your desk and find that it doesn’t fit correctly.

Match Your Chair To Your Desk

Perhaps your new chair is too low. You are shorter than the average person, for whom your desk has been designed. You try to gently rest your elbows on your desk to begin typing, but find your shoulders scrunching their way up to your ears. Or maybe your chair is too high; you try to pull yourself under your desk but cannot fit and feel you need to hunch over to reach your work.

It is extremely important to match the height of your chair to the height of your desk. In fact, your first step in this process should be ensuring that your desk can adequately accommodate you. This is much easier for short people than it is for tall people. Almost any desk can accommodate someone who is short. Of course, as a short person you can choose to find a shorter-than-normal desk, but alternately you could purchase a regular-height desk, adjust your chair height to match that desk, and then purchase a foot stool to make up for the difference.

You should mostly be concerned about desk height if you are a tall person. If your desk is too low, it will not matter to which height you set your chair. Adjusting your chair to match your leg length may mean that your knees will knock against the front of your desk, not allowing you to pull the chair beneath it. This problem can lead to strain on your back and neck muscles as you are likely to find yourself hunching over your work. If your desk is too short and you try to adjust the chair to match the desk’s height, you will find yourself cramped up underneath it. Scrunching your knees up toward your chin and cramming them beneath a desk of inadequate height can lead to pressure and strain in your lower back.

The Importance of Foot Stools

Foot stools are a very important consideration for short people or people who find themselves with incredibly tall desks. Since you should adjust the height of your chair to match the height of your desk, you may find that your legs are dangling beneath you. Ergonomically speaking, it is very important that your feet touch the ground and that your legs stay bent at a 90-degree angle.

If your legs dangle beneath you, several things may happen. Firstly, you can place extra pressure on important nerves which run down the back sides of your legs. Pressure on these nerves can lead to tingling and numbness. Secondly, the weight of your legs will pull on the muscles and skeletal structure of your hips and back. This will move your spine out of alignment and can lead to prolonged back pain. Finally, dangling your legs off your chair can restrict blood flow to the lower parts of your legs and your feet.

If your chair must be adjusted to a height which leaves you unable to reach the floor, invest in a foot stool. Make sure that foot stool is the exact right height to bring the bend of your legs to a 90-degree angle once your chair has been adjusted to fit your desk.

The Right Adjustable Chair Height

As I have already stated, selecting the right height of chair for the length of your legs is most important for tall people. There are no adjustments a tall person can make to fit himself or herself into a small chair. Short people, on the other hand, are able to purchase foot stools if their chairs are too tall. Still, assuming that you have selected a desk to suit your personal height or that you will be using your chair without a desk, I thought it may be smart to include some information about adjustable height ranges.

When purchasing a desk chair, you will want to research the height levels your chair is capable of reaching. In completing this research, you will want to look for seat height, not overall height. Short people will want to find a chair with a height range of around 15 inches to 24 inches. Taller people will want to make sure that their chairs are capable of extending well over 30 inches. Of course, there are big differences between what it means to be a tall 6’ 3” person and an extremely tall 7’ 1” person. You may want to try out a few chairs first just to get a basic idea of the height range you are looking for, especially if you plan to purchase your chair online.

It is also important to consider seat depth. Generally speaking, tall people have longer-than-average legs and short people have shorter-than-average legs. Your leg has two parts – the lower part which reaches from your knees to your feet and the upper part which reaches from your hips to your knees. Many people forget to consider their upper legs when purchasing a desk chair.

If your upper legs are longer than average, you will want to ensure that your chair seat is deeper than average. Similarly, if your upper legs are shorter than average, check to see if the seat is shallow enough to accommodate you. Luckily, some chairs feature seats which are adjustable in depth, allowing you to slide the seat forward and backward – sometimes even beneath the back rest.

It’s Not Just About Seats

Back rests should also be considered when purchasing your desk chair. Some people are tall in their upper bodies, some in their lower bodies, and some are just tall overall. The same can be said for short people. Think about it – when you are standing you may find that you are taller than your friend, but when you sit down you and your friend appear to be the same height. This may mean that you have longer-than-average legs, or your friend’s legs are shorter than average. It could also mean that you both have average-sized legs, but that you have a taller-than-average torso or your friend has a shorter-than-average torso.

Many people’s bodies are disproportionate. If you suspect that your body is disproportionate, you will want to purchase a chair which also has an adjustable back rest. This way, after accommodating the chair for your legs and your desk, you can adjust the back rest to match the height of your torso.