How to Measure a Chair

Are you searching for a new chair? Or are you looking to adjust your office chair to increase comfort? No matter the reason, an office chair’s height is the basis of a good ergonomic workspace. So, what’s the standard height of an office chair, and is there an ideal height? But more importantly, how to measure to a chair to find the right height for you?

How to Measure a Chair – Standard Height

This is extremely simple to remember – unlike desks in the United States, which have a standard height of 29”, there’s no standard height for a chair. Different chairs will have different height ranges. However, when measured from seat to floor, the general range is typically between 16” to 22”.

You can get office chairs intended for taller people that can be adjusted above 22”. So, if you’re a taller individual, you might want to take a look at some of the best office chairs for tall people.

Does the Ideal Chair Height Exist?

Does the ideal height for an office chair exist? If so, how to measure a chair?
As it turns out, there’s an ideal height for office chairs where you’ll feel the most comfortable.

From an ergonomic standpoint, this ideal height will minimize the negative effects your body experiences in your arms, neck, shoulders, and thighs as you work throughout the day.

To explain what the ideal chair seat height is, let’s first talk about the proper way of sitting in an office chair:

  • Your feet are touching the ground effortlessly, with your knees bent at a 90 degrees angle
  • If you work with a computer, your forearms should be at the same height and parallel to your desk. Your elbows should be open to a 90-to-110-degree angle

These two requirements for proper sitting don’t always exist in harmony, making ergonomic sitting difficult to achieve.

How to Measure a Chair

how to measure a chair
Source: Unsplash

Now that you know what you should look for in your posture to achieve the ideal sitting height, here’s how you should calculate each part.

The general rule of thumb when measuring an office chair with a tape measure is to calculate the optimal seat height and subtract 10-inches from the work surface height. This will give you the midpoint chair seat height range.

The standard seat width for an office chair is between 17 and 20-inches. The chair depth needs to be enough to allow you to sit with your back up against the chair’s backrest while still having two to four inches of space between your knees and the chair seat.

Also, keep in mind the chair cushion and cushion thickness as this can increase the overall chair height as well and can affect your chair dimensions. Remember, you want to sit comfortably under the desk at the right height.

Your Feet Touching the Ground

This is easy to achieve if you’re already sitting in a good office chair. You simply need to adjust the height lever until your feet are touching the ground completely and you’ve achieved a 90-degree angle with your knees.

Don’t over lower your chair because this has a negative effect on your ischial tuberosities or sitting bones and will exert pressure on them.

Another answer to “How to measure a chair” is by standing. This is a much faster approach than sitting and adjusting the height of the chair.

To do this, stand in front of an office chair and adjust its height until the seat is just below your knee cap. Then you can sit down, resting both feet on the floor, to make sure that it’s at the right height.

Forearms Parallel and Open

With the right seat height, your shoulders should be relaxed, and your wrists should be in a neutral position. This reduces arm fatigue and helps prevent carpal tunnel over time.

By adjusting the chair, you can ensure your arms are parallel to the desk, your elbows are open to a 90° to a 110° angle, and you have neutral straight wrists. If you find it difficult to get your feet to touch the ground, the easiest solution is to get a footrest or anti-fatigue mat to accommodate for the height difference.

How Important Is Having a Comfortable Chair?

A large percentage of people spend anywhere between five to eight hours per day sitting behind a desk. Sitting in a chair that is even slightly uncomfortable, even for a short time, can cause painful injuries from cumulative time sitting in it.

This injury is called a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD). According to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), almost two million workers suffer from work-related MSDs per year, and around 600,000 lose hours at work because of them.

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