Last Updated: March 16th, 2020
Most office chairs are built to accommodate an average frame. If you are petite or short in stature (under 5’3” for women and under 5’8” for men), your so called ergonomic chair could be exacerbating your existing aches and pains – or potentially creating new ones.
In this guide we take a look at all the important ergonomic factors that short people need to focus on when picking an ergonomic chair, followed by a comprehensive list of the best office chairs for short people. All of these chairs are appropriately sized in the key areas that make all the difference for short people, from seat depth, height, to seat pan width.
Please note that we will be using terms such as “short”, “shorter” or “petite” to describe people that are under the statistically average height for men and women. This post will not focus on chairs for little people, or people with dwarfism.
What Does “Ergonomic” Mean?
Simply put, ergonomics refer to the design of products for optimal human use. One of the most important applications of ergonomic design is in the workplace. If you have an office job, you’re likely sitting in your chair all day. If you’re short, you’ve definitely noticed that office chairs are not “one size fits all”. A chair that’s designed with your frame and stature in mind can make all the difference in properly supporting your thighs, back, and arms.
Most Important Features to Consider in an Office Chair for Short People
If you’re short or small-framed, your choice of office chair is going to be limited. The one universal consideration to keep in mind when you’re petite is adjustability. Watch the video below or keep reading to see what you should look out for when it comes to a good office chair for short people:
If a chair’s seat pan is too deep, it can cause circulation problems for short people, as your legs will be dangling off the floor and applying undue pressure to the soft underside of your thighs.
For shorter people, we recommend a seat depth of around 18” or less. It should also be depth adjustable to allow further personalization.
To calculate the ideal seat depth for yourself, in a seated position, measure the distance from the end of your buttock to the end of your inner thighs. There should be 2″ of space between the back of the knees and the seat of the chair. The best seat depth leaves that space at the end of the seat’s edge to prevent cutting off circulation in your thighs.
The seat height of an average office chair is adjustable between 18”-22”. If you’re short, look for a chair that can at least be lowered to 18” or even lower. The good news is, seat height is not nearly as important as seat depth for short people, as you can always just use a footrest if the chair doesn’t go low enough for you.
Proper seat pan height can be calculated by sitting in your chair and calculating the distance from the floor to the backs of your knees. Be sure to take into consideration the thickness of your shoes as this can affect your measurements.
Back Height and Forward Tilt
The backrest should be adjustable to meet your height requirements. Ideally, it should also be able to tilt forward – this avoids you having to perch precariously on the edge of your seat and adding pressure to your lower back.
Your backrest should adjust to support your lower back. Depending on the seat depth, a lumbar support that is depth adjustable may be necessary to ensure it meets your back fully to support it.
The chair’s armrests should be fully adjustable, especially width wise to bring them closer to your body. It might seem obvious, but make sure they are well padded as well. Hard armrests can overtime pinch the ulnar nerves in the bony part of your elbows, leading to cubital tunnel syndrome.
With those prerequisites out of the way, the following are the best office chairs for short people that meet most if not all of the criteria laid out.
- Adjustable Height Range (from seat to floor): 14.75-19”
- Seat Width: 25.75″
- Seat Depth: 15¾”
- Seat Depth Adjustable: No
It’s rare that an office chair is available in three different sizes to accommodate a wider variety of users – including the more diminutive crowd. But then again, we’re talking about the Aeron, the pinnacle of ergonomic and comfortable sitting.
The Aeron is available in sizes A, B and C, with A being the smallest. Size A has a seat height range of 15-19”, which is recommended for someone who measures 4’10-5’9” and weighs between 90-150 lbs. This is a fantastic range for shorter employees in desperate need of ergonomic support. If you’re slightly larger than that, go for Size B instead.
Users are supported through a wide range of motion in this chair, whether reclining or leaning forward. An adjustable seat and backrest provide eight “latitudinal zones” of varying tension to hold you when seated, as well as a tilt limiter with seat angle adjustment. No matter how short you think you are, this chair has literally got your back.
The Aeron also boasts adjustable individual pads in the backrest that can adjust lower for petite sitters and provide lumbar support to your spine while maintaining the natural forward tilt of your pelvis. The result is a firmer and more powerful seating position. One user claimed that these individual pads are a marked improvement over standard lumbar support and provided him with additional comfort in the sacro area.
There are a host of cushy extras on this chair that are beneficial to shorter people. Upholstered foam arm pads are fully adjustable in height, depth and angle – perfect for narrower frames. A mesh chair back means that no matter how low your smaller figure rests, the free air circulation regulates your body temperature.
All of the comfort and top-tier design features do come at a cost. Some might find the price point prohibitive, but this chair is an investment piece, as evidenced by the 12-year manufacturer’s warranty. If you’re petite and looking for holistic comfort backed by years of professional engineering, we think you’ll keep it forever.
- Individual backrest pads for increased lumbar support
- Forward tilt ability
- High tech fabric and mesh with 8 different tension zones
- Available in smaller size (Size A)
- Made of 53% recycled materials
- Seat depth not adjustable
- More expensive than other office chairs
- Adjustable Height Range (from seat to floor): 17.1″ to 19.2”
- Seat Width: 19.3”
- Seat Depth: 16.7″ – 18.3″
- Seat Depth Adjustable: Yes
Looking for an active sitting chair that not only encourages good posture, but constant micro movements to keep your body and mind alert as you sit? Few chairs do it better than the CoreChair.
When we reviewed the CoreChair last year, we found it a revolutionary product that does most of what the company promises- improves your blood circulation, cognitive abilities, posture and core strength – as you sit.
For short people, the company recently introduced a short version, which is custom tailored for people 5’5″and below. Everything from the minimum seat height to the seat depth is decreased to ensure a better fitting. We also love that the seat depth can still be adjusted between 16.7″ – 18.3″.
Much has been talked about on the perils of sitting for too long. The CoreChair successfully counteracts that with a seat that moves and articulates up to 14 degrees in all directions. It’s similar in concept to sitting on an exercise ball chair, but with a stable base and resistance control that prevents you from rolling off of your seat. The result is something revolutionary.
One drawback of the CoreChair is the rather hefty price. However, the frame and fabric upholstery are both extremely durable, and in our testing should last as long as the best office chairs. Throw in a 60 day satisfaction guarantee and 12 year warranty, and this is an investment that will for many people be a worthy one.
- 14 degree omni-directional tilt promotes constant movements
- Sculpted seat reduces pressure around your thighs
- Promotes constant good sitting posture
- Product made from recyclable materials
- High cost at around $800 (last check)
- Lack of a version with armrests
- Adjustable Height Range (from seat to floor): 14.5” to 18.15”
- Seat Width: 19.7”
- Seat Depth: 17.3
- Seat Depth Adjustable: Yes
With a small, modern profile and plush fabric upholstery, Rimiking has created a modern, elegant task chair that may not win any ergonomic awards, but is particularly suited for petite people.
The height range can adjust as low as 14.5”, so there should be no issues with your legs dangling off the floor – even without heels! While the seat depth isn’t adjustable, since it’s only 17.3”, really helps encourage proper posture in petite frames. One owner says the chair is extremely comfortable and goes low enough for her small desk, unlike all other chairs she’s tried.
This chair offers a full range of motion with 360-degree swivel capabilities. When paired with durable casters and lower seat height (so your feet can actually touch the floor), it encourages multitasking and smooth mobility from one work area to another. Sadly, there isn’t much in the way of other adjustments such as backrest tilt or recline.
Short person looking for simple-straightforward comfort to complete basic tasks will find that this chair has them covered.
- Chair lowers to an incredible 14.5″
- Easy to assemble, less than 15 minutes
- Comfortable, warm fabric upholstery
- No armrests
- Backrest does not tilt
- Adjustable Height Range (from seat to floor): 16″ – 21″
- Seat Width: 19.25″
- Seat Depth: 15.5 – 18.5″
- Seat Depth Adjustable: Yes
If there was a perfect chair for short people out of the box, the Steelcase Amia might just be it. From the chair’s ultra robust lumbar support, versatile range of height adjustments, to seat pan width and depth that are tailor made for shorter people, this is the chair to get if money is no object.
The hallmark of the Amia chair is theLiveLumbar™ mechanism in the chair’s backrest. What does this mean for their petite following? It means this is a chair that contours to your specific frame, with adjustable seat depth (15.5-18.5”) and a flexible seat edge, which relieves pressure on the back of shorter legs when you recline or sit forward. The seat width is narrower than other chairs (19.25”) and won’t cause circulation issues if you’re shorter.
One client said that “vertically challenged” people like her would really benefit from this model. As a result of using the Amia, she no longer has a nagging backache at the end of her day.
The height range goes down to 16” at its lowest point, which is perfect for smaller frames, and pairs nicely with the adjustable and flexible backrest system. Both allow for continuous lower back support regardless of your day-to-day movement.
Steelcase has also incorporated 4-way adjustable armrests: side-to-side, up and down, back and forth and side pivoting. This amount of customizable adjustment gives people who are more petite full control over the width and height of their arm support.
While the Amia is priced at the higher end of most task chairs, the Amia’s design and functionality will serve the needs of its shorter consumers for years to come.
- Livelumbar technology, perfect seat height and dimensions for shorter people
- Armrests adjust 4 ways for full comfort and even weight distribution on shorter frames
- Weight tested and can hold up to 300 lbs.
- Offers a 10-year warranty
- More expensive than other task chairs on the market
- Adjustable Height Range (from seat to floor): 15.7” to 18.7”
- Seat Width: 18.5”
- Seat Depth: 18.5”
- Seat Depth Adjustable: Yes
Sidiz estimates that 1 T50 chair is sold every 1.3 minutes. A fan favourite of IBM, the T50 offers full ergonomic design, fully-adjustable features that benefit people with smaller frames, and great value for the money. In fact, the Sidiz made our list of one of the best Aeron Chair alternatives.
One owner of the T50 took a chance on this model and remarked over it’s high-end quality construction. His favorite feature is the adjustable lumbar support, which he customizes to alleviate an existing back problem.
The high back and adjustable height range (15.7” at the lowest setting from seat to floor), combined with an elegant S-shaped backrest keeps your spine in perfect s-formation. For petite people, this design feature prevents back pain and encourages proper lumbar distribution.
Multi-tilt adjustment on the seat depth means that smaller people don’t perch on the edge of the seat pan. The seat slide and slope are also customizable so that a short person’s hips are properly aligned with their knees.
Some customers aren’t a huge fan of the memory foam seat pan, and are perhaps looking for more cushioning support. While simplistic in its design, the T50 has considered every aspect of human seating and comfort. Described as “the chair that changed chairs”, the T50 passes all BIFMA standards and will likely exceed yours as well.
- Compares nicely with the Aeron chair at a fraction of the cost
- 3-way adjustable arms (up/down, left/right, in/out)
- Adjustable seat depth and forward tilting
- Breathable mesh back
- Some users report a clicking sound in the mechanism under the chair
- Memory foam seat gets dirty easier than mesh
- Adjustable Height Range (from seat to floor): 16.7” to 19.6”
- Seat Width: 17.5”
- Seat Depth: 15.5″ – 17.5″
- Seat Depth Adjustable: Yes
Last but certainly not least, we have the Sitrite Ergonomic Chair for kids. If you’re not just short, but petite like a small teenager, this might just be the perfect office chair for you.
Primarily intended for children and teenagers up to 16 years old, many petite people have also found the SiteRite perfect for their height and body size. In addition to being able to lower the seat height to 16.7″, there is a detachable foot ring to further decrease the resting distance for your feet to less than 14″.
The seat itself is also perfect for very small body sizes, with a width of 17.5″ between the armrests. The depth is adjustable to grow with kids, but at its shortest setting is around 15.5″.
One adult who is 5′ is in love with her SitRite chair, and says she has finally found a chair that fits her miniature body size perfectly. Gone are her back pain from sitting in large chairs that do not cradle her body properly.
A couple of things we didn’t like about the SitRite. Firstly, the backrest does not tilt, which is an asset for releasing back tension. The armrests are also on the narrow side, and are not height adjustable. These shortcomings mostly stem from the one piece design of the chair that does make it a breeze to put together (around 5 minutes).
All things considered, the SitRite chair is still the best chair to get if as a petite person you have yet to find a regular adult chair that fits you properly. In this case, the logical next step is to go with a good children ergonomic office chair, which the SitRite certainly qualifies as.
- Perfect for short adults that are also really petite
- Small seat with adjustable seat depth
- Detachable foot ring that lowers seat height to 14″
- Effortless assembly in 5 minutes
- Not suitable for regular sized adults that are short
- Backrest does not tilt
- Armrests narrow and not adjustable
- Adjustable Height Range (from seat to floor): 24” to 28”
- Seat Width: 18.25”
- Seat Depth: 17”
- Seat Depth Adjustable: No
As a drafting chair, the Ursa is great for standing desks and tall desks without compromising on safety and comfort for short people. As one petite owner said, it’s hard to find a comfortable drafting chair when you’re on the small side, and Ursa came through for her with this chair.
A tall gas cylinder offers hydraulic lift to adjust the height range between 24-28” from seat to floor. While that seems insurmountable for a petite person, there’s an adjustable foot ring (12.75”-17” in height) to support your legs at that height.
Five dual-wheel casters and full 360° swivel means you can multitask and transfer between multiple work surfaces with minimal effort. While the 17” seat depth isn’t adjustable, it is within the range of depth that most petite users will find comfortable. The generous width (18.25”) and waterfall seat edge also promotes good circulation in the thighs.
Normally, we wouldn’t recommend a drafting chair in a list of office chairs for short people. However, many petite people use drafting tables, standing desks and work in studio spaces, so a drafting chair becomes necessary. In this light, the Ursa drafting chair provides simple, ergonomic comfort and support, no ladder required.
- Backrest height and angle both adjustable
- Large height range makes it perfect for standing and regular desks alike
- Height adjustable foot ring
- Seat depth not adjustable.
- Seat padding on the thin side (3″).
As a short person, you have additional comfort issues to contend with when selecting an office chair. Remember, you’ll possibly be using your chair for more than 8 hours, so it’s important to know not only the seating measurements, but your own as well.
Thankfully, the companies we’ve listed have all recognized the importance of avoiding an “average” chair suited for the masses. While it takes an extra bit of research, finding a chair with the right support features and sturdy framework for your petite frame can carry you through the professional work day and beyond in style and comfort.