Ideal Desk & Chair Heights for an Ergonomic, Pain-Free Workday

ideal desk office chair heights ergonomic

The ideal desk and chair heights change from person to person, depending on your individual height plus torso, legs and arm lengths. That is to say, the ergonomic desk and chair heights are unique for each person.

If you’re at your desk all day, it’s important to have the best desk and office chair height to avoid pain and even potential long-term injuries from holding bad postures for long periods. Common ailments include carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis.

To start, consider that both your desk and office chair need to be measured for the ideal ergonomic height and should be considered one unit.

standard desk office chair heights

Average Sitting and Standing Desk Heights

The standard office desk heights for sale range from 28–30 inches, although this is really only ideal for people from 5’8” to 6 feet. This obviously poses problems for shorter or taller people, but the difference in height can be somewhat helped by choosing an adjustable office chair. Ultimately, an adjustable desk is the best option to comfortably sit different employees but this is usually more expensive.

For standing desks, there is no standard height although they typically range from 35 to 47.

Standard Desk Chair Heights

For many people and budgets, it is not feasible to get a custom-made or adjustable desk. This puts emphasis on the importance of the desk chair height.

Standard chair height is around 18 inches, although many quality office chairs are adjustable these days and the best option. Similar to desk heights, the optimal chair height ranges from 15–20 inches depending on your individual height. An adjustable chair also gives you more freedom to choose a unique desk, such as the parota office desks you can see in this article. If you are considering a parotas desk or an office project, get in contact to ask any questions.

For a true ergonomic experience, choose a chair that can be completely adjusted, including the backrest, seat, and armrests. The seatback should have an option to be tilted to around 110 degrees. For proper back support, the backrest should be at least 18 inches tall measured from the seat cushion.

average office desk table height

Calculating Your Optimal Desk and Chair Heights

The general rule is to add or minus 0.4 inches from a 29-inch desk height for every inch in height difference from 6 feet. However, there is no agreed ergonomic height or calculation for this, as everybody is different.

If it helps, you can use these desk height calculators (here or here), which also calculate things such as the ideal range for your chair height, monitor, and armrest.

However, the best way to find your individual ergonomic height is to do the elbow test for your desk, and the knee, feet, and hip test for your chair.

optimal office desk height

The Elbow Test: What Is Your Ideal Ergonomic Desk Height?

Thankfully, you don’t need to whip out a measuring tape for each of your individual body measurements.

ideal ergonomic desk office chair heightsYou can easily work out your ideal desk height by doing the following:

  • make sure the desktop is horizontal with your elbows. Your shoulders should be hanging relaxed, but not depressed, and your forearms bent at a comfortable right angle.
  • check that you can rest your palms (hands down) comfortably on the desk, or your workspace, like a keyboard, while maintaining a-90 degree angle.
  • there are personal preferences for the angle of your elbows or wrists when working, but they shouldn’t be outside the range of 70–135 degrees.

This test applies the same to sitting and standing desks heights.

For many people, their ‘horizontal’ height will be measured in line with their keyboard but it depends on what you do. It might be the height of your mouse. Other personal preferences include writing and graphic design desks, which are usually a little higher (30+ inches), while data entry typists sometimes opt for lower desks.

The Feet, Hip and Knee Test: Find Your Office Chair Height

The easiest (and cheapest) way to get into your ergonomic zone is to buy an adjustable desk chair. This is usually sufficient to help people avoid neck and back pain, because almost all parts of the chair can be adjusted to your body.

When adjusting your chair to find the perfect height, check that your:

  1. your feet should be fully flat and supported by the floor, otherwise, you may need a footrest. This is especially important if your chair or table is too high for you.
  2. thighs are horizontal, similar to the elbows, at a comfortable 90–110 degree angle from the hip. You will generally be more comfortable if your knees are slightly higher than your hips.
  3. the edge of the seat should not touch the back of your knees; there should be a fist-distance of space between the back of your legs and the seat, or around 0.5 inches.

adjustable desk office chair heights

Optimal Adjustable Desk Heights

The sure-fire way to improve your workspace, no matter who uses it, is to use both an adjustable chair and desk.

Although, regardless of whether your table and chair heights are ergonomic, sitting for long periods has been touted as the new smoking. Many experts advise having the option to both sit and stand, then to alternate your desk height during the day.

An adjustable sit-stand desk is usually more expensive, but changing your position over the day is the most ergonomic approach. Neither sitting nor standing for long periods of time is considered healthy.

Below is a table for optimal adjustable desk heights.

Minimum Range Optimal Desk Height
Adjustable sitting desk height 25–30 inches 22–33 inches
Adjustable Standing desk height 38–42 inches 35–47 inches
Sit-stand adjustable desk heights 26–40 inches 22–47 inches

 

Ergonomic Tips For Your Desk and Chair Heights

  • Even with an ergonomic desk height, many people still experience neck or back pain because their computer or laptop monitor is too low. The ideal laptop or computer screen height is 2–3 inches below your line sight. Your eyes should look down at about a 30-degree angle, with your head straight over your shoulder, and not bent in any way.
  • A matte-finish desk reduces glare compared to glass-topped desks, which is a little bonus if you’re on the computer all day.
  • Your knees and thighs should move freely under the desk without obstructions causing odd angles or squashing you under the desk.
  • You should have enough space between the top of your thighs and the bottom of your desk to move around.

 

The University of Brunswick and US Department of Labor give more ergonomic tips for your workspace, posture, lighting, and glare. You can also read more about finding you ideal chair heights by the University of Pittsburg or the Canadian OH&S Centre.

While these tips may help you avoid gripping pain, the best assessment is done by an ergonomic specialist, who will measure the exact desk and chair height that you need.

If you’re looking to replace your office desk or chair, get in contact or leave a comment below.

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