A common complaint about “one-size-fits-all” clothing is that in practice, it tends not to fit anybody. Similarly, a one-size-fits-all office chair is likely to pose problems, especially for people who are shorter or taller than average.
Negative effects of a chair that’s the wrong size
Some office chairs, especially in the executive category, may leave people who are petite feeling like Alice in Wonderland. Nobody feels “in charge” if they’re left with their legs dangling over the edge of a chair and can’t plant their feet squarely on the ground.
An office chair that’s not suited to your height and build can also cause more serious problems. If your feet aren’t flat on the ground when you’re seated, your bone structure won’t be properly supported and your circulation may be negatively affected.
When you’re on a chair, your feet help stabilise you. They give you information about the position of your body relative to the surface you’re on. Without thinking about it, you make small adjustments in the placement of your feet as you shift positions throughout the day, to help balance and align the rest of your body.
The poor posture that results when you’re in a chair that’s not right for your height puts extra pressure on your spine, making back, neck and shoulder pain more likely.
If your feet aren’t flat on the ground when you’re seated, your lower thighs will press against the edge of the chair with too much pressure. This may interfere with circulation to your lower legs, even more than is normally the case for people who spend long hours in a seated position.
In the short term, poor circulation to your lower extremities may result in unusually cold feet, numbness and tingling. Over the longer term, it can cause tissue and nerve damage. It can also lead to strokes.
What to look for in an office chair if you’re short
The best office chairs for short people – and for people who are taller than average too – are those with dimensions you can adjust in multiple ways to suit your needs. This type of office chair may be a little more expensive, but remember to weigh its initial cost against the value of keeping you comfortable and productive, and protecting your spine, as you work.
Adjustable seat height
Most office chairs today have adjustable seat height, but it’s important to test that you can adjust seat height easily and sufficiently to meet your needs. Test that you can position the seat so that your feet can be flat on the floor, with your thighs at a 90-degree angle to your calves. This is the best position for the health of your spine and for allowing proper circulation.
Adjustable arm rests
If the arm rests on an office chair are too high or too low, you’re likely to end up with shoulder, neck and wrist pain. Adjustable arm rests can be moved to suit your body and the height of your desk. Ideally, arm rests should never be higher than your elbows when your arms are bent.
Adjustable tilt tension
An ergonomically designed office chair automatically tilts in order to continue providing support for your back as you lean forward or back. For people who are petite, the default tilt tension may be too high – meaning that you have to use force to get the back of the chair to move as you do. This puts unnecessary strain on your spine and neck, and prevents smooth reclining. With adjustable tilt tension, you can change the tension to suit your height and weight.
Suitable seat depth and shape
With adjustable seat depth, you can move the seat of an office chair to suit the length of your thighs. Ideally, you should be able to fit at least two fingers between the back of your legs and the front edge of the seat. It’s also best if the seat has waterfall, or rounded, edges, which are designed to minimise pressure on your lower thighs.
We specialise in manufacturing ergonomic office chairs that are fully customisable, using only materials and processes of the highest quality.