Yolandi from Karo (left) is quite short at 159cm, whereas George, also from Karo (right), at 176cm is of average height.

The importance of choosing the right office chair cannot be overstated when it comes to crafting a comfortable and ergonomic workspace. The typical office chair is designed with the “average” person in mind, leaving shorter individuals facing a significant challenge in finding a chair that offers the support and posture benefits they need. In this article, we’ll delve into the essential factors to keep in mind when picking the perfect office chair for those with shorter frames. We will explore key features such as adjustable seat height and depth, lumbar support, material, and more to enhance comfort and ergonomics for shorter users.

Adjustable Seat Height: The Foundation of Comfort

Office ergonomics focuses on designing furniture and equipment to fit the user’s needs, and adjustability plays a pivotal role.

For shorter individuals, like Yolandi from Karo, who stands at 159cm, selecting a chair with ample adjustability is paramount. The chair’s height should be adjustable to allow her to place her feet flat on the ground with her knees positioned slightly below her hips. She will need to consider chairs with an adjustable seat height ranging from 40 to 50 cm to accommodate shorter legs comfortably.

The Top 5 Office Chairs for Shorter Users like Yolandi

For someone like Yolandi, who’s on the shorter side (159cm), an ideal office chair would be height adjustable, have a shallower seat depth, multi-adjustable armrests, and a backrest that caters to her smaller frame. The below five options from Karo’s range are ideal choices for Yolandi:

The chairs featured above are Karo’s:

  1. Mira-Mesh Ergonomic Office chair
  2. OrthoLux Orthopedic Office chair
  3. ErgoCurve Ergonomic Office chair
  4. Leila Ergonomic Office chair
  5. Elara Ergonomic Office chair.

Backrest Height: Reaching New Heights in Support

Just as backrest height is crucial for taller individuals; it is equally significant when selecting an office chair for short people. Look for chairs with backrests that extend at least up to the shoulder blades or higher. This ensures proper support for the entire back, preventing strain on the upper back and shoulders.

Adjustable Seat Depth and Lumbar Support

For shorter individuals, seat depth and adjustable lumbar support are two indispensable features. They work together to discourage slouching and encourage a neutral spine position, reducing the risk of back pain and discomfort.

a) Seat Depth

Sitting in an office chair designed for the “average” person often means the seat is too deep for a shorter individual, resulting in inadequate back support. Opt for chairs with a shallower seat depth, typically around 40 to 45cm, to ensure proper thigh and back support without causing discomfort or hindering blood flow to the legs.

b) Lumbar Support

Irrespective of height, a chair with excellent lumbar support is essential for maintaining a healthy posture. When combined with seat depth adjustment, short individuals should seek out office chairs with adjustable lumbar support that conforms to the natural curvature of their spine. Look for chairs that allow both horizontal and vertical adjustments of the lumbar support.


Many headrests are designed with adaptability in mind, allowing users to fine-tune their position and angle to suit their individual needs. This adjustability not only makes them suitable for a diverse range of users but also ensures that each person can find their ideal comfort level.

Office Chair Mechanism

Chairs equipped with recline mechanisms allow users to vary their sitting position throughout the day, which engages back, core, and leg muscles, reducing the risk of shoulder and back pain. Seek chairs with a tilt feature that promotes dynamic sitting. For shorter and slightly built individuals, make sure the spring tension in the chair’s tilt mechanism is adjustable.

Adjustable Armrests: Supporting Short Arms with Big Comfort

Regardless of your height, insist on office chairs with adjustable armrests that can be positioned at the right height and width to comfortably support your forearms. Proper positioning means your elbows should be bent at approximately 90° and aligned with the top surface of your desk. Armrests set too low or too high can lead to shoulder and neck strain.

Material and Padding on Office Chairs for Small Users

To enhance comfort and prevent pressure points, shorter individuals should look for office chairs with adequate foam padding. Materials like breathable and moisture-wicking mesh can be especially comfortable during extended sitting periods. Leather and high-quality fabrics are also popular choices due to their durability and aesthetic appeal.

Adjusting the Office Desk for Short Users

Standard desks are typically around 73cm high, designed for the average population. However, for shorter individuals sitting with their knees slightly below hip level and feet flat on the floor, a standard desk can be uncomfortably high. This can result in straining the back, neck, and shoulders. To avoid these issues, shorter individuals should lower the height of their desk. If a height-adjustable desk is not available, they can raise the chair’s height and use a footrest to support their feet. This simple adjustment can make a significant difference in the users comfort.

Conclusion: Tailoring Ergonomics for Short Individuals

We are all unique, with distinct physical attributes. Even people of the same height can have varying proportions, including weight, leg length, and torso size. When it comes to choosing the ideal office chair for short individuals, it is crucial to consider their specific body measurements.

By prioritising ergonomics and selecting modern office chairs with extensive adjustability, short individuals can create a comfortable and supportive workspace that promotes proper posture while reducing the risk of discomfort and long-term health issues. Experimenting with different chairs to find the perfect fit for your unique needs is advisable. Remember, being short should never mean sacrificing comfort and support in your workspace.

To speak to an Office Ergonomics Risk Facilitator contact us on 011 392 6803 or email [email protected]

Article first seen on Karo’s Knowledge Centre – click here for the full article.