Are You Taller Than Average? You May Not Have Optimal Sitting Height

                       Are You Taller Than Average?                                           You May Not Have Optimal Sitting Height

Furniture is often designed so that “one-size-fits-all.”  So if you are an American male or female of average height, it is likely that standard or non-specialty furniture can provide a proper sitting posture for you if it is new or in reasonably good condition. 

Wikipedia states that the average American male height is 69 inches (5ft 9inches) and the average female height is 64 inches (5 ft 4 inches).   Note that there is a difference of 5 inches between men and women.  Does it make sense that one-size-fits-all furniture can provide proper sitting height for everyone?

This article offers guidelines on proper sitting height and to help you evaluate if your current furniture is maybe too low for proper sitting posture. 

According to a brief survey of furniture manufacturers like Bassett, Jane, Lazy-Boy, Lane etc. as well as Ergonomic and Design publications from All Steel and others, the recommended furniture sitting height design for an “average” height person (male or female) is 16 to 20 inches high.  This is for one-size-fits-all furniture where manufacturers target say 60% of the market.  What is the sitting height of your furniture?

It is important to have furniture where we can sit comfortably with good posture and our knees are not higher than our hips, as shown below in the one-size-fits-all design standards.  This applies to work sitting posture and leisure sitting posture.


Why is good sitting posture important?

The American Chiropractic Association points out:

 Good posture helps us stand, walk, sit, and lie in positions that place the least strain on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement and weight-bearing activities. Correct posture: 

  • Helps us keep bones and joints in correct alignment so that our muscles are used correctly, decreasing the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that could result in degenerative arthritis and joint pain.
  • Reduces the stress on the ligaments holding the spinal joints together, minimizing the likelihood of injury.
  • Allows muscles to work more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy and, therefore, preventing muscle fatigue.
  • Helps prevent muscle strain, overuse disorders, and even back and muscular pain.                                                    alignment

For taller people, if you are in the market for new furniture, there is actually a pretty broad selection of furniture on the internet where you have selections of high or low seat height or adjustable seat height, mostly in the office furniture category.  There is a good selection of fashionable and comfortable office chairs, sometimes a bit on the expensive side, with adjustable height, adjustable lumbar support, swivel and rock back adjustments and adjustable arm rest support.

But what about seat height options for new sofas and recliners or leisure furniture?  Or, for most people what about seat heights of their existing furniture?  The “easy chair” market for new furniture has fewer height options but there are some.  At Lazy Boy for example, some recliners can be fit with a higher base, raising the recliner 1.5 inches for $80. Usually when you ask about seat height on sofas at a retail furniture store, the response is “you just need to try it out and see how it fits.”  Sitting height information from the internet sellers is hit and miss, mostly miss.

When have you seen a sofa, recliner or easy chair at Costco or any other furniture retailer with a particular style in two sizes, one for shorter people and one for taller people?  Or maybe a special chair for “tall” people?  The general response for addressing this issue is “you just need to try it out.”

Here are some guidelines for taller people and what seat height might work best to achieve proper sitting posture:

Your height


5’10 – 6’0”

6’1” – 6’3”

6’4” – 6’7”

6’8” – 6’11”

Target Seat Height

16”- 17”

17” – 19”

19” – 21”

21” – 23”

23” - 24”


Reasons why people taller than average may be sitting too low on their existing furniture are:

  1. The chair or sofa is not the right height even when new.
  2. The chair or sofa has lost the original seating height due to a damaged or broken frame.
  3. The springs have deformed and lost their original spring height

People sometimes sacrifice proper sitting posture because of low sitting height.  Leisure sitting furniture like sofas and recliners can be elevated with supplemental furniture risers and make a significant improvement in sitting comfort and sitting posture for taller people.  Common risers that can be added to your furniture are available in sizes of 1” to 7”.  The most common riser height is 3”. You can see testimonies of those who have used furniture risers (3” risers) under existing furniture at:

Happy and healthy sitting!