How Desk Chair Height Can Cause Leg Pain For Office Workers

Leg pain for office workers may not be as big a problem as neck and back pain, nonetheless it still affects a lot of people and when you understand the potential causes it can often be resolved.

Typically people complain of pain to the underside and tops of their thighs. Or their legs suffer some numbness and feel heavy and dead.

A lot of the time the height of the seat can be the cause. For many it will simply be a case of adjusting their working height and yet for certain others it isn't so simple.

Why correct seat height adjustment is important
It’s important to make sure you have your seat set at the right height, because when it’s wrong it places a lot of unnecessary pressure on the legs. And historically poor advice on sitting with legs and body at 90° has contributed to the problem.

And just in case this applies to you, it’s never a good idea to work at a computer or desk in a fixed chair like a dining or meeting room chair. Even if the height is right this sort of seat still restricts your body movement and can cause other pain and discomfort problems.

Let’s take a look at how you should be sitting.

How to sit at the right height
Begin by standing without shoes on and knees facing your chair seat and align the seat height with your knee caps. From there sit down in your chair making sure your feet are resting squarely on the floor. Then, fine tune the height so that the angle between your body and thighs is open at around 110° or more. This will reduce the constriction on your upper leg muscles and allow better blood circulation.

What should you do when you can’t achieve this sitting position?

Adapting your chair to fit you
Most average built people should be able to get their seat set to the right height. However for short or tall people things may not be so simple.

Typically short built people find the seat won’t go low enough to let them rest their feet squarely on the floor. In fact they may not be able to rest their feet on the floor at all.

The opposite problem affects tall users. Even with the seat on maximum height they find the angle between body and thighs is very tight as they are forced to sit with knees pointing up in the air.

Fortunately some manufacturers offer different sizes of gas lift support struts. Check and see if there is one available to suit you. Start by measuring from floor to knee cap and make sure that dimension is covered by the alternative strut’s height range.

This should take of things, but what if it doesn’t?

Other seat problems
Where pain still persists other causes my include incorrect seat depth for your leg length or cheap seat foams which have degraded and flattened.

Here’s a free report which explains the commonest cause of office chair discomfort and how to resolve it.

And if you need a new size of gas lift and one isn't available, a new chair may be your only alternative.

Further reading
Here are a couple of articles that will help both short and tall people select the right chair for their needs.

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Are You Relying On Luck When Buying An Office Chair?

People take chances when selecting a new office chair, they see a post on a forum or somewhere like Twitter or Facebook, where a poster says something like:

“I just got a new leather chair for my office from Staples, it only cost $79 and it's brilliant.”

A lot of the time the chairs being endorsed by people are poor quality, basic models with some flashy trimmings to make it look good.

So why do people sing the praises of these sorts of chair?

Probably the  2 main reasons, are first might be their existing chair was dropping apart so anything was going to be an improvement. Or it could be they had previously worked at their computer on a dining room chair or a stool and naturally any swivel chair is likely to seem like a major improvement.

The truth is that an office chair is a very important piece of working equipment and needs to be well designed and have a good range of adjustment flexibility covering the users height, weight, leg length and sitting preferences.

Often these vital adjustments simply aren't included on budget priced chairs made to fit a price band rather than their user and so only cover very basic things like height adjustment.

The person posting about how wonderful the chair they just bought is may just be lucky it was a very good match to their size, height and leg length.

Such a chair may very well be totally unsuitable for someone else of a different build, height or weight and who could well be bitterly disappointed with the poster's recommendation.

Remember too, if someone had been using a worn out or static chair, virtually any new swivel chair is going to seem great at first.

It would be interesting to ask their opinion 6 months on, when maybe the cheap foams typically used in these sorts of chair have flattened out and become uncomfortable, or the lack of adjustment options have started to affect their comfort and posture.

By all means look at the chairs others post about, then check the specification closely to see if they include the essential features any good office chair needs.

Read product reviews, look at users comments on shopping sites like Amazon and remember sub $100 chairs are highly unlikely to provide a lasting solution for your working comfort and needs.


More Thoughts On Selecting The Correct Sized Office Chair

In my last post I began by looking at whether your office chair is the right size for you pointing out the majority of office chairs are made for people of average height as well as how the size of seat may be less than ideal for you.

Let's continue with some other important things to consider.

Does the seat height adjustment suit your height? Here's a quick rule of thumb, stand without shoes on and measure from the floor to your knee joint at the back of your leg. Make sure that your chair's seat height is able to adjust to this length as it will be pretty close to what you need. When correctly seated your feet should be squarely on the floor.

Next, is your chair's seat depth right for you? When sitting there should be a gap of about 3 to 4 inches between the front edge of the chair seat and the back of your legs. As a quick check, can you place your clenched fist between the chair edge and your legs?

When there is little or no gap or conversely your legs overhang far more, then you'll be unlikely to get comfortable in the chair. If your chair has seat depth adjustment adjust it to suit your needs, unfortunately far too few chairs include this function and so you may not be able to make the required adjustment.

Finally can you adjust your seat's back height so that it gives comfortable support to your back, particularly your lower back? If not you're going to struggle to find lasting comfort in your chair.

You can find further details on how to correctly adjust your office chair in this article.


Why Do People Bad Mouth Good Office Chairs?

I spend a good deal of time surfing the web reading topics related to office chairs and I am frequently surprised at the vitriolic comments about certain products, particularly good quality ones.

No doubt some of these views are justified but I suspect that a lot of them are not and this is a real shame, as it could put someone off considering an excellent chair due to the prejudice or ignorance of others.

So, why does this happen? There seems to be 3 main reasons.

1. Not trained in how to use the chair

This is probably the biggest reason and perhaps isn't all that surprising given that few companies seem to take the trouble to show their people how to adjust their chair correctly.

I recently saw a comment by someone who said that their chair was very stiff and was constantly trying to catapult them out of the seat.

This was clearly a case of poor adjustment and not knowing how to adjust it, as the chair in question has excellent tension adjustment to cater for virtually any size or weight of user.

2. Don't like the chair's appearance

This is quite a common reason, the image of the chair in the user's mind didn't match their reality, the color was wrong, the back wasn't high enough etc.

This can also often happen when the user didn't have any say in the chair's selection, purchasing went ahead and got them a new one.

3. Chair has an unusual feature

Often a chair will have an unusual feature that the user takes an instant dislike to, sometimes it's justified, other times it's not.

A good example of this is the Aeron pellicle upholstery, which probably gets more bad comments than anything I've seen. Nonetheless, it also gets a lot of praise, so it really is down to personal preference.

So, if you are considering buying a particular model of chair and come across a negative comment, don't let that one comment put you off. Look around for other opinions, ask questions in forums, check reviews on and try and get a more balanced opinion.

You can always ask for my help by firing me a question through the contact us form and I'll give you my thoughts on your concerns.

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