Why Office Chairs Can Cause Problems For Short People: And How To Deal With It.

Short people tend to get a rough deal on office chairs and are frequently overlooked entirely by many manufacturers. Chair producers tend to cater mostly for average to larger framed users simply because it is the easiest route for them to move the most products.

Most short people face two challenges either their leg length or torso, and sometimes both, don't work at all well with many desk chairs.

Leg length tends to be the biggest problem. The reason for this is that the vast majority of office chairs simply don't adjust low enough to let users place their feet firmly on the floor.

Consequently this puts the lower body in an awkward and uncomfortable posture. Thankfully there are a couple of solutions to this issue.

Begin by checking whether your chair supplier offers an alternative pneumatic gas lift. Many of the better companies have special low gas lifts allowing the chair to adjust an inch or two lower. It may not sound a lot however it can often make all the difference.

The other alternative to the problem is to buy a footrest, adjustable footrests are best as they allow you to fine tune support for your feet.

Depending on your chair's features, reclining can often be a problem if it has fixed tilt tension. This is mostly a problem for lighter framed users who find themselves fighting their chair when trying to recline. Once again fixed tilt tension is designed to suit the weight of an average built person and is much too stiff for lighter people.

Make sure any chair you consider has either adjustable tilt tension or adjusts automatically to individual user weight. Typical weight ranges start at 100lbs and go up to around 250lbs or more, double check if you fall outside this range.

Seat depth is also another key adjustment missing from far too many chairs. Without it it’s often difficult to gain good leg comfort. Unfortunately there is no simple workaround for fixing this.

Low cost budget office chairs are highly unlikely to be suitable for petite users as they lack the adjustments and flexibility needed to achieve good working task chair comfort.

Fortunately a number of manufacturers do cater well for smaller built individuals by providing ergonomic chairs which will work well for you, including seat depth adjustment. It’s worth taking a look at HÅG's H04 and Neutral Posture’s 5000 series too.

Two cost effective solutions deserving investigation are Izzy’s Bailey chair and Via's Riva range.

Here's a quick summary of the key points:

  • Check if you can get a lower gas lift
  • Consider an adjustable footrest
  • Tilt tension or automatic weight adjustment is key when reclining
  • Seat depth lets you set up good upper leg comfort

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8 Responses to “Why Office Chairs Can Cause Problems For Short People: And How To Deal With It.”

  1. I have found that having a smaller upper body results in not getting the right lower back support I need in an office chair. To fix this, I got a lumbar support pillow or cushion, this gave me plenty of back support for the long hours at my desk.

  2. One of my co-workers is rather short and he never uses his company issued office chair. He prefers to stick to his balance ball.

  3. Unfortunately, its not just the chair. I’m just over 5 food and can pretty much put my feet on the ground with most adjustable chairs. However, that leaves me shrugging all day because the table is too high…. I end up alternating between arm and shoulder comfort in a high chair, and leg comfort in a low chair. I sit with my feet pulled up in the chair.

    The spokes on most office chair bases get in the way of any sort of foot stool, which’ll need constant adjustment everytime you swivel the chair.

    Right now Im shopping around for a Drafting Stool that adjusts as low as 20-18″ seat so it will fit at a table, but have the metal ring for a footrest. But most drafting stools start at a 23″ seat which is much too high for most tables. The one 18″ option I found was waaay out of my budget.

  4. What you are considering is a pretty good solution for your situation. Another alternative would be to get a Webble footrest as you could easily move it around while working. See http://www.officechairadvice.com/office-chair-accessories/body-supports/webble-active-footrest.html

  5. Since most of my work is done on the computer I have found installing a keyboard shelf under the desktop to be a good solution to the desk height issue. Mine is wide enough to fit my mouse as well.

  6. Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s a great answer for resolving desk height problems.

  7. There are 2 problems with office chairs for short people. I’m 5’1″.

    PROBLEM 1: HEIGHT OF CHAIR. Most good chairs are adjustable. Still, in their lowest position, some lower (in a good way) than others. I’m still trying out lots of chairs to see what feels most comfortable.

    PROBLEM 2: LENGTH OF CHAIR SEAT. This problem is rarely addressed. They have special “big & tall” chairs, but no “short folk” chairs. I was hoping to find one online, but so far, no success. Best interim solution is lumbar rest, but it’s not ideal

  8. Your’e quite right Sheila you see plenty of “big and tall” chairs yet no “short folk” chairs. Not really sure why, because it’s a big problem for lots of people.

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