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What is the best Ergonomic chair for a short person?

16 April 2021

Let’s face it, not everyone is built the same. People come in all shapes and sizes. They may be tall, thin, stout, or small in stature.  Most office chairs are built to accommodate the average person. If you are petite or short in stature (under 5’3” for women and under 5’8” for men), your ergonomic chair could be compounding your already existing aches and pains or could create new ones.


Like people who are taller or heavier than the average body, small people are having a hard time looking a chair that fits right. Most chairs, even the adjustable ones, are made to fit the 5th - 95th percentile. A 5’2" female typically fits at the 5th percentile, but will soon find that most chairs are really not fitted properly.


An ill-fitted chair could lead to genuine health risks. A seat that is too deep can cause circulatory problems for the lower legs. A properly fitting seat needs to have two to four fingers' width of space between the front of the seat edge and the back of the knee.

Too much height for a seat can also cut off circulation to the lower extremities. It can be remedied with a footrest. Most chairs have a seated height that starts from 16" to 19" or more. Assuming that the correct seated height for a 5’ tall person is 14" and only 15.5" at 5’4", too high a seat can be a problem.

The ideal office chair for a short person will have a low seat height (up to 16 inches), a narrow seat depth ( a minimum of 16 inches), close-width armrests (for reduced shoulder pain), and adjustable lumbar support. It also requires to have a height-adjustable headrest for ergonomic sitting.


Short people find it doubly hard to find proper clothes that fit. Especially when looking for an office chair, it is not always easy. People who are of average height are not aware of the difficulty short people need to go to feel comfortable.


What are to look for short people office chairs?


Office chairs for short people have to be a bit lower than others. It should have an allowance of a 90-degree knee angle. Tall chairs close this angle further and they block circulation at the back of the feet and aren’t too comfortable.


An office chair for a short person needs a narrower seat depth. Prolonged sitting to the backrest in a long-width office chair can compromise proper working ergonomics.

A shorter armrest distance is also ideal for the short person. The more the elbows flare out, the more stiffness the person can feel in the upper back.  Short people know this problem. Regular people do not notice this.

Lumbar support benefits regular people. But for short people, the lumbar support is proven too high up the back. It should have height-adjustable lumbar support or a lower S-curve backrest design.


The ideal office chair for short persons should also have a short backrest. With a headrest, it must be height adjustable so it doesn’t press the upper back of the head.


Here’s a summary of how the best office chair for short persons is designed in specs:


16 inches or less in seat depth

16 inches or less seat height

16 inches or less in armrests distance

Optional headrest or short backrest

Adjustable lumbar support

30 inches or less desk height


Notice that short people keep trying out various everyday items until it fits them. This is true with office chairs. For people who are 5 feet 6 inches and under, start with chairs that are 16 inches tall or adjustable to 16”. If 5’2”, start with a seat height of 15 inches. But the reality here is that most office chairs can’t go that low.


To find the right ergonomic chair for short people, here are some of the criteria:


If the person is short or small-framed, the choice of office chair is limited. The one important feature to keep in mind for short people is adjustability.


  1. Seat Depth


Should the chair’s seat pan be too deep, it will create circulation problems for short people with the legs dangling off the floor and bringing undue pressure to the soft underside of the thighs.

It is recommended that a seat depth should be around 18” or less and adjustable to allow personal preferences.

To find the ideal seat depth for short people, in a seated position, measure the distance from the end of the buttock to the end of the inner thighs. A gap of 2″ of space between the back of the knees and the seat of the chair is required. It can prevent cutting off circulation to the thighs.


  1. Seat Height


The average office chair height is adjustable between 18”-22”.  For short people, it needs to be lower than 18”. Fortunately, it can be compensated by providing a footrest for the feet to rest on.


To calculate the proper seat pan height, sit in your chair and calculate the distance from the floor to the backs of your knees. Include the thickness of your shoes as this can affect your calculations.


  1. Back Height and Forward Tilt


The backrest should meet your height requirements by adjusting it. It must have a tilt adjustment to move forward, avoiding to perch precariously on the edge of the seat and adding stress to the lower back.


  1. Lumbar Support


Your backrest should adjust to support your lower back. Depending on the seat depth, a lumbar support that is depth adjustable may be necessary to ensure it meets your back fully to support it.


  1. Armrests


The chair’s armrests need to be fully adjustable, mostly with the width closer to the person’s body. Padded armrests would be great. Hard armrests can in the long run pinch the ulnar nerves in the bony part of the elbows, resulting in cubital tunnel syndrome.




For a short person, additional comfort issues need to be addressed when selecting an office chair. Keep in mind, you are using the chair for more than 8 hours, it is imperative to know not only the seating adjustments to find your comfort zone.


The best office chair for a short person is the culmination of countless research. All of the options mentioned above are the result of the most popular ergonomic principles. While it can cost more than the average office chair, it is guaranteed to have a chair that can be used for at least a decade, according to the warranty plans. In the long-term, it cost-effective and you can sit comfortably according to your preferences.