We choose our clothing based on our body type, we choose our diets and our workouts based on our body type, some studies suggest we even choose our partners based on body types. Important as clothing is (not to mention life partners!), there is another crucial part of our life that we should choose based on our body type: ergonomic office furniture.
There are four basic ergonomic adjustments that must be aligned with body type:
Body Type: Petite
People with small frames under 5’3” often find themselves in one (or more) of these predicaments:
• You sit perched on the front edge of the chair
• The chair seat hits the back of your legs
• You can’t get close enough to the desk because the chair arms limit your movement
• Your feet dangle
If you are petite, an adjustable ergonomic chair with a small seat, high back, and no arms will allow you to get close enough to your workstation and maintain a neutral posture, with your elbows and wrists level when typing.
Adding a height-adjustable keyboard tray to the desk will allow you to relax your shoulders when working, and allow you to rest your feet on the floor.
If you’re using a keyboard and mouse on the desk surface, a footrest will support your feet from dangling and enable your knees to be level with your hips, which can minimize lower back pain.
Adjusting the monitor height and bringing it closer (just over an arm’s length away, when you are seated in your chair) will keep your neck healthy and prevent your head from being angled up or down.
Body Type: Tall and thin
People who are thin and tall (under 6’2”) often complain about:
• Being forced into leaning back in a chair that is not supportive
• Their arms are winged out in a chair that is too wide
• The chair height is not compatible with the desk height
If you are tall and thin, your furniture choices will greatly impact your body. Choose a height-adjustable chair with back angle tilt, a standard seat size, full back support, and seat depth adjustment to allow for your long legs. The chair arms should be able to be lowered so you can sit closer to the desk edge. Also consider lumbar support if you have lower back pain.
When selecting a desk, find one that offers plenty of room to move freely, without pedestals or bars that may cramp the space for your knees or legs. You may want to consider a sit-stand desk that goes high enough when you are standing and low enough for your seated posture.
The top of your monitor should be level with your forehead. If it is too low, raise it with either a stand, adjustable monitor arm, or a good ole’ ream of paper.
Stage all the tools you need for your work (cell phone, documents, keyboard, mouse, etc.) within your reach: 18-24” max.
Body Type: Large frame
If you are a large person (over 375 lbs), you may suffer from:
• Legs and sides compressing against the chair
• The chair seat being too short to support your legs
• Not having sturdy enough arm support for getting into and out of the seat
Choose an ergonomic chair that offers:
• A wider, deeper seat frame
• Sturdy arms
• A full back that adjusts
• Fully-adjustable seat tilt, back tilt, back angle
• At least 375 to 500lb capacity
Your desk should be height-adjustable for your height and your keyboard tray should also adjust. Go without a pencil drawer that impedes proper upright seating and forces poor posture. Make sure your keyboard and mouse are on one level and placed side by side.
Set up all of your accessories to get you into neutral, relaxed postures.
How to select ergonomic furniture
When selecting your office furniture, it is important that the pieces you pick fit your body. Make sure to not only test the chair and the desk, but test them together, and make sure all of your choices work well when used simultaneously. By selecting furniture that suits your body, you enable yourself to powerfully care for yourself in a way that keeps you healthy, happy, and more productive at work.