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Making it Work: Tall People and Office Chairs
Sep 13, 2021
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There's nothing like a good office chair to make an eight-hour workday more bearable. But what happens when you're just too tall? If you're a tall person, you probably have to adjust every office chair you come across before settling down to business. In most cases, this may still leave your thighs unsupported, and your knees may buckle uncomfortably under the desk or against the wall. This probably makes you feel as awkward as a duck on ice. But, you persist and push through the workday because that's what professionals do. 

However, it's not merely your comfort and coolness that's at risk here. Sitting in such uncomfortable positions can harm your health and productivity. For tall people, finding the perfect office chair can seem like a never-ending task. But don't despair- you're not alone with these problems; professionals of every height face similar struggles when trying to find just the right seat for their needs. Fortunately, there are some easy ways you can solve this problem, as you will find out in this article.

What Defines a Tall Person?    

Tall is a highly subjective measurement. Every country in the world has its national average, but we'll stick to the North American statistics. The national average across Canada and the United States is 5'9" (175.26 cm), which is way above the international standard. 

So, if you measure 6 feet and above, you're what's considered as "quite tall." But, fret not, we've made this guide to help you pick an office chair that's suitable to the unsung needs of tall people. 

Kana Bamboo Standing Desk

Adjust Your Posture 

It’s hard to change the way you sit, stand or walk. This is because such characteristics are tied to our bone structure and years of training and conditioning. However, adapting your posture to make your office chair and desk more accommodating is easier than it seems. Sure, it'll take a "little getting used to." But, the result is guaranteed to work wonders on your productivity and comfort levels. 

The first thing you need to consider is where you rest your upper arm when you settle on your seat. You can adjust your armrest to ensure that it is parallel to your spine. It will help if your palms and forearms rest on your desk. At this position, your elbows should bend at a 90-degree angle. If that's not the case, then you can adjust your chair's height. 

This measure ensures proper spinal column alignment and adequate blood flow to your thighs and lower extremities. This also reduces the weight that your shoulders and back bear. However, it doesn't do much for your legs, which is why you could consider combining this measure with the next one. 

Get a Seat Height Extender

Get a Seat Height Extender 

Ideally, your knees shouldn't bend when your feet are planted to the floor. But, this is a tall order for the taller employee. You should consider getting a height extender kit if the maximum adjustment doesn't afford you such provisions. 

There are 2 ways to rectify this: 

The Kit Method 

Most drafting chairs and high chairs feature this kit. Height extender kits feature a central column with a tube that adds some height to a chair. They also come with a footrest, which you may not need since you’re already tall enough to step on the floor. 

The primary issue with such kits is that they aren't universal, and getting a kit that fits your office chair can be close to impossible. You can also find a kit that ends up making your chair unstable as it nullifies gas springs, hydraulics, and other features. 

The DIY Method 

This method is complicated, therefore, suitable only to individuals with a knack for mechanics. It involves taking your seat apart and extracting the seat pan, then adding layers of thickness. 

Here’s how to proceed:

  • Establish how much height you’d like to add to the seat
  • Get a piece of hardwood that corresponds to the height you’d like to add
  • Drill some holes that match the holes on the base of your chair and the seat post mechanism, and align the hardwood you got earlier
  • Replace the existing bolts with longer ones
  • Put the rest of the chair back together 

The drawbacks to this method come when the backrest is attached to the chair base. Sure, you can connect it to the extender, but this makes it shaky, and it can void the chair's lumbar support. Lest we forget, you will definitely violate your warranty terms.

Big and Tall Reclining Executive Office Chair with Footrest 290

Consider Buying a New Office Chair 

Office managers face an uphill challenge in ensuring that every employee’s needs are addressed. The easiest route in such situations is usually adopting a one-size-fits-all or most approach. This doesn't work for all people.

However, picking an office chair for tall people is more accessible than most people probably think. Below are 3 considerations to make when shopping for office chairs for tall individuals: 

Seat Height Adjustment 

Standard office chairs come with a fixed seat height adjustment level, and resultantly, locking into the coveted “sweet spot” that accommodates your long legs will ideally be frustrating. This forces you to extend your legs or bend your knees, which forces you into an awkward posture. 

The best way to sit is where both feet rest on the ground, and your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Therefore, an office chair would have to have a maximum height of 18-14 inches (seat cushion to the floor) to accommodate people who fall between the 5'8" to 7'3" range.  

The Big and Tall Reclining Executive Office Chair with Footrest 290 factors in these considerations and has an abundance of other sleek features. It comes with a seat height of 19.5 – 21.9, which is adequate since most of the population falls under the 7' tall category.  

Seat Depth Adjustment 

One of the drawbacks (or advantages) to being tall is having exceptionally long femur bones. This factor implies that you need an office chair with greater seat depth than the typical office chair allows. Flexispot’s Big and tall recliner features a supple yet sturdy seat cushion of 5.5”. 

It also has a seat depth of 18.7", which is way above the recommended 16”. To top it off, you can adjust it to fit a person of any height or weight. 

Backrest to Seat Height Ratio 

This factor isn't essential unless your office chair comes with a dedicated/fixed headrest. There's nothing as excruciating as a headrest that rides too high or low above your neck. You are better off taking it off the seat if it doesn't feature some measure of height adjustment. 

Measuring your torso height can help you settle on the most suitable backrest height. The Big and tall recliner has these considerations built into the seat. It has a backrest height of 25 and a width of 21.3. And while it doesn't feature a headrest, it comes with a well-padded leather cushion for unmatched comfort levels. 

Prop Your Rump with Pillows or Cushions

Prop Your Rump with Pillows or Cushions  

The best solution to most challenges is often the simplest one. Adding a cushion can help you sit higher on your office chair. It's the same concept used to sit kids at the dinner table, so you probably already know its efficiency. 

Consider getting a high-density cushion as it's relatively firm but still comfortable. You can also add a wooden block between the seat padding and the new cushion. This will prevent you from sinking too deep when you take a seat. 

However, this can cause the following problems:

  • You may also need to adjust the height of your desk
  • This new height elevation means you can’t use the armrests on your office chair
  • You'll have to change your posture to view your monitor or access your keyboard and mouse
  • The cushion might tip your pelvis, which leads to improper spinal alignment and back pain

The only sure way to play with this concept is to get a bespoke cushion, but there's no foolproof way of determining whether this will solve the issue. 

When all else fails, you can opt to: 

Anti-Fatigue Mat DM1

Stand While Working 

Sitting and leading a sedentary life is a silent killer. It compounds metabolic issues and chronic muscular problems. So, it's not such a crazy idea to remain vertical whenever possible. Getting a standing desk can help. You could also get a standing desk converter. 

However, standing for hours on end can be tiring and harmful to your health as well. The following accessories can allow you to take a few breaks to comfortably have a seat:

Sure all these accessories come at a considerable up-front investment. But, it is a worthwhile venture that can translate to a lower burnout rate, fewer days off, and fewer visits to your general practitioner or other specialists. 

In Closing 

Once upon a time, Alice fell into a rabbit hole and took a potion that made her 10 feet tall. You probably know how the story goes, and the exceptionally tall have to live with the challenges Alice faced, but without the reverse potion. 

If you run an office, you probably run initiatives aimed at making your workplace a more inclusive environment. Most of your employees may not be that tall, so it probably wouldn’t cost you much to make a few workstations more accessible to tall people. 

We’ve outlined the options; the choice is all yours. It is also critical to note that some of the above methods come with a shelf life, while others can distract you from your core mission. Standing is a viable option, but getting an office chair for tall people can help you address the issue in one fell swoop.