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Finding the right size armchair

We tend to choose our easy chairs for style, colour, and whether they are comfy. But if you are sitting for long periods of time and are unable to change position frequently in the chair then it is important to find the right size chair for you. The wrong size chair can lead to discomfort as well as problems with pressure, posture, pain, and your general health.

Chair selection


Our Therapy Team can help you find the right size chair, to support you when sitting and we can help you find ways to get in and out of the chair safely.

To check that your chair is the right size, your feet should be flat on the floor, with ankles, knees, and hips at about 90°and your bottom should reach the back of the seat. Your back should be supported by the backrest from seat level. Find out if the chair is too deep by leaning forwards when sitting in the chair, if there is a gap between your bottom and the backrest this indicates that the chair is too deep for you. The width of the seat is important too; your bottom and thighs should fit the width of the armchair with a small comfort gap on each side so that both forearms can rest on both the armrests without hunching or dropping your shoulders.

sitting well

If your armchair is too high or too deep: You will tend to slide your bottom forward to get your feet on the floor. This slide makes you slump in the chair, this slumped position can affect your breathing and swallow and may cause back pain. This position also puts pressure on bony parts of your body and can cause skin damage. A lot of chairs are very deep, which is fine if you aren’t seated for long but if you are spending a long time in your armchair it is important that the seat depth is right for you.

seat too high

If your armchair is too low: Your knees will be higher than your bottom which will again put pressure on your lower back and buttocks and make it difficult to get out of the chair.

chair too low

If the armchair is too wide or armrests too low: You will tend to slump to one side or the other to support your arms on the armrests leading to uneven pressure on your buttocks and increased pressure on your elbow/forearms. This slumped positioning which can lead to back pain and problems with swallow and breathing.

sitting in a slsideways slumped position

Support cushions can be used to make your existing armchair a better fit for you. We have a range of specialist cushions that we can use to help find the best way to support good posture in your chair. Our Occupational Therapists can guide you through the options so that you can make an informed choice about which is right for you.

Office seating also needs to be the right size for you, for support and function: see more information about this in our section about work and leisure.

Follow our guidance to find the right-sized chair for you or give us a call and arrange to visit us so we can measure you and you can see what type of chair is comfortable for you. We have lists of Devon’s chair suppliers and also a list of the many charity shops in Devon that sell chairs.

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