Short People Big Chairs


Finding a comfortable and ergonomically appropriate office chair for people 5’6″ and shorter can be, ahem, a tall order.  Your feet dangle because, even at the lowest height, the chair is too high for your feet to touch the ground.  The standard seat depth can cause the lip of the cushion to jam into the back of your knees and the standard arm rests can force your shoulders up to your ears.   What a working nightmare.


Never fear!  There are manufacturers out there that have love for us petite people.  Below, I will list the 7 things to consider when looking for a chair that fits you like a glove.




Seat height:  Standard chairs have a seat height that ranges from between 17 to 22 inches.  If you are 5’6″,  you need a seat height of 16 inches or as low as 14 inches at 5’2″.

Foot rest:  If you can’t find a chair that has the adjustable seat height that you need, you can always buy a foot rest to ensure that your feet are supported and your knees are flexed to 90 degrees.

Desk height: This is probably the biggest obstacle – the height of the desk.   Typing height should be 8 inches above your seat height. For example if your seat height is 16 inches,  your desk height should be 24 inches.  The standard height of a desk is 30 inches.

The fixes for this are a foot rest and a desk adjustable for height or a drop down keyboard tray.

Seat depth: Seat depth is an important feature that we never give much thought to.  You don’t want the chair compressing the back of your knees.  There should be a space of  1 to 2 inches between the chair and the back of your knees.  When looking for a chair, look for a seat depth of between 15 and 16 inches.  When possible choose a chair with a waterfall seat design.

Arm width: When working, your arms should hang comfortably by your sides with your elbows flexed to 90 deg.  Arms resting outwards place stress on your neck and shoulders.  Look for chairs that have a width of 16 inches;  If you are 5′ and under, you want that width to be as close 13 inches.

Arm height: As above, you want the arm height adjustable so your arms hang comfortably by your sides.  Arm rests too high force your shoulders up to your ears.  Very uncomfortable.  You want that height to be 9 inches or less above the seat depending your height.

Head rest: (which should really be called a neck rest) Not a fan.  I liken them to the head rests on air planes.  Tall people are able to utilize the head /neck rests the way they are supposed to be used, to provide support to the the neck.  When you are short, it just pushes your head forward. Not comfortable.

At the end of the day, you want a fully adjustable chair for seat height, desk height, seat depth, arm width and arm height.  Forget the head rest and if nothing else, use a foot stool and drop down keyboard tray.  Oh, and the MOST important thing–get up often, stretch, walk–keep moving!

Check out this link for a detailed analysis of 5 of the best office chairs for people 5’6″ and under as well as a great summary of specific height details for all adjustable items.

#Shortpeoplearepeopletoo #fullyadjustable #ergonomics #officechairs #officeergonomics

Book Authored by Deidre Ann Johnson

Keep this handy book by your desk while working or in your carry on when travelling for tips to keep you flexible and pain free.