What Is The Best Office Chair For Big And Tall People?

Imagine if your car’s driving position was fixed. The manufacturer just decided the car seat would be set to suit the average driver. From the maker’s point of view it would be a lot cheaper. For drivers it would be a disaster and none more so than big and tall people who would likely end up with their knees wedged up against the steering wheel.

Fortunately automakers aren’t so shortsighted. Unfortunately office chair manufacturers often are, paying little regard to anyone taller than average.


Tall Man In Wrong Sized Office Chair Cartoon – © www.OfficeChairAdvice.com

Why are some office chairs a problem for big and tall people?
If you’ve ever worked in an office where everyone has the same office chair you may have noticed how taller colleagues sit a little awkwardly.

For someone with longer than average legs the wrong chair can be a real hassle. Even sitting right back into the seat frequently leaves the user’s legs jutting out miles further than anyone else. Having to sit in this unnatural posture soon becomes uncomfortable.

For someone with longer than average legs the wrong chair can be a real hassle. Even sitting right back into the seat frequently leaves the user’s legs jutting out miles further than anyone else. Having to sit in this unnatural posture soon becomes uncomfortable.

And heavier built tall people often face a further problem when they want to recline. Where they have a chair with fixed tension it isn’t nearly strong enough for their needs. Consequently when they lean back the chair offers little resistance and just shoots straight back.

To counter these two common problems it’s necessary to insist on a couple of vital options.

What essential features do big and tall people need?
The first problem can usually be taken care of by making sure that your chair is fitted with a seat slide adjuster. That way you can set the depth to suit your legs and get rid of the overhang issue.

The second problem can be easily fixed by making sure your chair has tilt tension adjustment. This enables heavier built users to increase the spring tension in the back. Now when you recline you don’t feel unstable in the chair because it supports you comfortably.

So, is that all you need to take care of?

What other features should you be aware of?
Apart from the 2 vital functions we just covered, what other features are desirable?

You should always go for adjustable arms. Even no arms would be a better option than fixed arms.

Fixed arms rarely end up in the right position for comfortable support. They often place your shoulders at an abnormal angle and the outcome is always the same – neck and shoulder pain.

Also check the seat’s dimensions and make sure it will allow you a clearance of an inch on each side when you're seated. There’s nothing worse than feeling shoehorned in your seat as it restricts movement and causes discomfort.

You will probably be best to go for a medium or high chair back to make sure your back gets proper support. So avoid small chair backs unless they have a high degree of adjustability.

Won’t all this work out pretty expensive?
Unfortunately there’s no getting away from it, you just won’t find the features you need on $100 chairs. Realistically you’re going to need to budget between $450 and $750 and maybe more to get the kind of chair you need. You need to look at it as an investment. When you spend long hours sitting to work the added comfort you’ll gain will help you become more productive. Instead of being distracted by aching muscles you will get more work done. This is particularly true as the day wears on.

Look at the payback you'll get. Let’s say you value your time at $30 an hour and you gain just 10 minutes a day in increased productivity. That’s $5 a day, so even if you shell out $600 you'll see your investment paid off in less than 6 months. A pretty healthy return. Lets consider which models are likely to be most suitable.

Which chairs are good for big and tall people?
Because office chairs are mostly made to fit average sized people, you'll need to look beyond many popular models. Fortunately some manufacturers produce chair ideally suited for big and tall users.

Eurotech seating's Ergohuman mesh chair has the necessary adjustments for taller people.

Neutral Posture specializes in this sort of seating. It offers a huge range of options and they can be tailored to the individual. This is possible because you literally can make up a ‘made to measure’ set of features for your exact needs. The downside is cost as it's likely to need a four figure investment to get what you want.

Herman Miller’s Aeron is also a good chair to consider as it comes in 3 sizes. Big and tall users will probably find the size C is best for them. There's a useful size chart to take out any guesswork.

It’s open mesh upholstery is great for keeping you cool on hot summer days if you tend to sweat a lot. Keep in mind it’s fairly firm to sit on, so if you like a lot of padding on a chair it might not be ideal.

Lets run through a checklist of the key points:

  • Everyday chairs rarely work for big and tall users
  • You need to be able to adjust the seat depth
  • A tilt tension control is vital for smooth reclining
  • Choose adjustable arms, fixed arms cause discomfort
  • Make sure the seat and back are big enough
  • Look to invest between $450 and $750, or more
  • Stick to specialist manufacturers who understand your needs

Make sure you avoid chairs with fixed driving positions. For proper comfort you need to look to for seating designed to fit you. Here's where you can find more about Ergohuman, Neutral Posture and Aeron chairs.

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3 Responses to “What Is The Best Office Chair For Big And Tall People?”

  1. ha ha hahaaa 🙂 yes, always sit upright 🙂 always have a backbone 😉 and use the right chair for your size 🙂

  2. I’m sorry to say that I’ve been through both the good and the bad here. I spent a decade at my last job collecting furniture (and especially a chair) that fit my large frame. When site management decided to stick us in cubicles all of that was surplused in favor of uniform furniture. This was a pain in so many ways and at least in my case really not good for my productivity or health. But, hey, it made it easier to move us around and so saved them money. I took the hint and moved on myself not long after that.

    Thanks for the post. I can only hope that people who make decisions like the one we were subjected to read it some day.

  3. Thanks for sharing your experience Rick. Unfortunately you’re right, to many managers a chair is a chair and probably not a problem if you’re average built. However for those who aren’t suited to one size fits all it can be a major issue.

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