So, you finally have the perfect ergonomic standing desk and office chair combo. That's excellent! Your workstation looks amazing, and you have that much-needed lumbar support. You can power through long workdays without breaking your back or neck.
But does such an ergonomically sound setup accommodate each and every part of your body? Well, no. It doesn't cover your feet and legs extensively. And shorter people are more familiar with the difficulties associated with having their feet dangle while seated. It is not only unpleasant, but it also has the potential to be detrimental to your posture and circulation.
Fortunately, an ergonomic footrest can help alleviate these problems. By raising your feet and providing support for your legs, a footrest can improve your circulation and posture, as well as reduce pain in your neck and back. Some models even feature massage points that soothe the pressure points on your soles. So, it's all you need to complete your ergonomic workstation set-up.
Let's learn more about this amazing yet often overlooked ergonomic piece of furniture.
How Do Footrests Work?
Sitting ergonomically requires your knees to be slightly elevated over the pelvis. This forms a 900 downward angle, which guarantees optimal blood circulation. Adding a footrest ensures your legs don't dangle to cut blood circulation at the thighs.
This prevents varicose veins, thrombosis, and other occupational blood circulation issues. Most people compensate for dangly legs by crossing them – It is natural! However, studies show such practices are unhealthy.
Sitting cross-legged for over 3 hours every day leads to:
- Inclined shoulders
- Slipped lateral pelvic disks
- Neck pain
- Slumped head ( walking around with your head facing down or forward)
- Postural Fixity ( a static posture that leads to deep vein thrombosis)
- Nervous twitching of the lower extremities ( ankles, feet, and toes)
So, your feet need to be in contact with the floor every time you sit at your desk. This ensures you maintain the right posture. But, this is not always possible, especially if you're short. An ergonomic footrest can help compensate for the difference created by your office chair’s height. It allows you to rest your heels and toes on a firm, comfortable, and warm surface.
Choosing the Right Ergonomic Footrest
Ergonomic footrests come in all shapes and sizes. Different brands include some advanced features and designs. So, settling on the right one for you can be challenging. Below are some common varieties to help you make the right decision:
Fixed Ergonomic Footrests
Fixed footrests are typically custom designed for a particular user. That’s why they are not common. Each fits a person's height, body type, and physical dynamics. You can't adjust the angle of inclination, height, or other physical features.
These footrests are commonly used in shoe stores to help attendants take foot measurements. And to make it easier for customers to try on new shoes. But, you can also use one in the office if it serves the purpose.
Adjustable Ergonomic Footrests
You can adjust the inclination angle and height of these footrests. However, some models allow you to change only one of these aspects, not both! Some feature disk-like tops, which allow you to scale them to match the soles of your feet. You can also get rocking or a seesaw motion, which increases your motion range and blood circulation.
Deluxe Ergonomic Footrests
These ergonomic footrests are fit for a king! You can expect highly adjustable height and inclination for enhanced sole support. They can also feature an additional padded bracket over the foot support where you can rest your lower calf.
This allows dynamic sitting to change your sitting position for a more relaxed experience.
Firm Ergonomic Footrests
These footrests feature a plastic pedestal that sits on a metallic base, while some are made of hardwood. Such firm material construction makes cleaning and maintenance simpler. However, you can't use most of these while wearing shoes as they are compressive and uncomfortable.
You can sometimes find firm ergonomic footrests with foam or fabric linings. So, it depends on the model or manufacturer you settle on while shopping.
Soft Ergonomic Footrests
Soft ergonomic footrests feature a foam mold with an outer fabric shell. Some offer an additional level of plush thanks to a compressed inner layer of husk, fiber, or goose down. This ensures you can rest your bare feet to relieve the stress of active sitting.
Other soft ergonomic footrest options include:
Inflatable footrests are ideal for home or office use. You can also take them with you on long train rides or flights. However, they aren’t the most durable option. Therefore, daily use and active sitting rigors will degrade them quickly.
Hammock footrests aren't the most ergonomic option. They attach to your desk using metal clamps, and here your feet can dangle. Your feet slide to the lowest part of the hammock and need constant readjustment. Unfortunately, this also creates loads of pressure on your feet and calf muscles.
What Are the Benefits of Ergonomic Footrests at Your Desk?
Ergonomic footrests may seem like unnecessary office accessories. However, adding them to your workstation benefits your back, hips, and legs, not to mention your overall blood circulation.
Addressing such issues influences your comfort, productivity, and level of fulfillment at work. Here are other hidden benefits of using an ergonomic footrest at your desk:
Enhanced Blood Circulation
When you sit down, your feet should be flat on the ground. This is the most natural position for your feet and it helps to promote proper blood circulation. However, if your feet are not in this position (for example, having your legs dangling), it can lead to poor circulation of blood to those areas. This can cause a variety of problems, including swelling, pain, and numbness. A footrest can help to alleviate these problems by providing support for your feet and keeping them in the correct position/angle, preventing the build-up of pressure in your lower limbs.
In addition, footrests can help to relieve tension in your muscles and improve your posture, both of which can contribute to better circulation.
Improved Body Posture
According to experts, back pain and other posture-related issues cost Americans over $7 billion annually. It's also why many employees depend on disability benefits instead of working for a living. So, how can something as simple as a footrest help?
By having our feet in the right position, it takes some of the pressure off your lower back and knees. As a result, you're likely to sit up straighter and feel less tension in our muscles and joints. This also alleviates the strain that causes back pain by helping with proper spinal alignment.
Having good posture leads to more comfort, especially during a long workday. You will likely be more engaged in your tasks and score higher productivity levels. Something as humble as an ergonomic footrest makes all the difference.
Some people's legs and feet swell when they sit for too long. So, elevating their legs (even slightly) moves the pressure point, making their workday more comfortable. Adding a footrest or anti-fatigue mat to a standing desk allows you to shift your weight and avoid the cold hard floor.
That way, you can stand for 30 percent longer and avoid the vices of sedentary office life.
Working Effectively at Counter Height
People working in labs, kitchens, stores, and other places with counters benefit from adding footrests to their spaces. They can use the foot rings on their elevated seat or stools. But, this puts their feet directly beneath their hips. This restricts blood flow to their legs and movement in the lower body. Sitting this way can also cause back pain since your spine isn’t supporting your upper body properly, even if your seat has a padded back.
Adding an adjustable footrest solves this issue by allowing you to sit in a manner that supports the natural curvature of your spine.
Support for the Vertically Challenged
Ergonomic office chairs are highly adjustable. But, they don't always encourage proper desk ergonomics. This is a challenge, especially for short people. They often resort to unnatural postures to compensate for their inability to rest their feet on the floor.
As mentioned, dangling or crossing your feet leads to circulatory issues and muscle aches. The culprit can be an adjustable chair or an office desk with a high floor clearance. All this makes it hard for them to align their chair and desk for proper ergonomics.
Adding an ergonomic footrest solves this issue by allowing short people to rest their feet for proper desk ergonomics.
Footrests Support Active Sitting
Sitting for long hours is harmful to your health. But, it's unavoidable at times. Adding a footrest (even a hammock) beneath your desk allows you to rock your feet and make micro-movements. This improves blood flow and reduces fatigue. So, you can sit for long hours and preserve your energy levels.
Footrest opens you to a wealth of ergonomic benefits. But, they aren't for everyone because their misuse can cause discomfort. If your feet already rest comfortably on the floor, then adding one can bend your knees and cause an unnatural posture – So you don't need it! You can get an anti-fatigue mat instead to enhance your comfort while giving you plenty of legroom.
Please check out our blog if you'd like to learn more about home and office ergonomics. You can also check out our expansive catalog for all the furniture and accessories you need to build the workstation of your dreams.