Most office and sedentary jobs are already quite strenuous. In addition, the entire body becomes extremely strained. This makes it all the more important for the workplace to be perfectly adaptable to the user.

Because in the long run, healthy sitting actually matters more than many people might think. If you sit incorrectly or for too long, this will e.g., lead to neck tension and back pain.

If the workplace only allows a few adjustments, then the employee can compensate for the deficiency ideally and cost-effectively by using a footrest. The footrest provides a quick solution as it helps to create an ergonomic balance between the floor and the height of the desk.

When is it useful to have a footrest for the desk and when not?

Jeder Bildschirmarbeitsplatz sollte perfekt auf den Anwendeer eingestellt sein

Every VDU workstation should be perfectly adjusted to the user in order to enable them to work at a comfortable desk in the first place. However, as shown here, many desks do not offer this possibility. In this case, a footrest can help. Picture: virtua73 /

Medical experts see pros and cons when it comes to footrests. Several factors are important to ensure a healthy sitting position. Firstly, the office chair should ideally be adjusted to the person sitting on it. Having the perfect desk height plays a role as well.

A footrest is especially necessary for short people. Here, the footrest helps to quickly solve any problem with the working height at the desk. This is especially important if the desk is used by several employees.

Calculate whether you need a footrest:

✓ Use our calculator to find out the height settings for your height. If your desk cannot be adjusted to the appropriate height, you will most likely need a footrest.

A footrest at the desk is not recommended if the company’s staff is taller than 170 cm. Furthermore, if the seat and desk height is perfectly adapted to the user, there is no need for a footrest in terms of health.

Unfortunately, height-adjustable desks remain the minority in many companies. Here, footrests may be a solution to the problem. Anyone who works at an old desk in their home office can also benefit from a footrest.

What are the requirements for a footrest?

Fußstuetze: Anforderungen

A high-quality footrest can be perfectly adapted to the user and has a variety of functions.

It is essential to have an adjustment device that can be easily operated.

However, the footrest should never adjust without manual intervention. It should always be possible to adjust the height and the inclination separately. Ideally, the adjustment should always be made in a sitting position.

The feet should be placed on the footrest across the entire surface, with at least a right angle between the upper and lower legs. It can only be defined as safe and ergonomic if it has the following features:

  • The inclination should be adjustable in any case.
  • The appropriate grip ensures a firm foothold, and a roughened tread gives the user a feeling of safety.
  • The footrest should be robust. It must have good stability because only then it will provide reliable support for heavier people when they need to balance their height.
  • The movements of the feet that provide relief should not be too restricted. It is therefore important that there is adequate space for the feet. The footrest should therefore always be large enough.
  • Height adjustability is useful and important for ergonomic footrests.
Schlechte Sitzhaltung

A bad sitting posture caused by incorrect desk heights can favour back problemsv.

The requirements for footrests for seated workplaces follow certain standards:

  • The footrest should be easy to use.
  • The seating surface should be at least 35 centimetres deep and 45 centimetres wide.
  • Regarding height, an ergonomic footrest should be adjustable to a height of eleven centimetres above the floor.
  • The height of the front edge should be a maximally five centimetres.
  • The adjustment levels are set at a maximum of 2.5 centimetres.
  • The inclination of the footrest should be between 5 and 15 degrees.
  • The adjustment levels of the footrest should not exceed 4 degrees.

The advantages of an ergonomic footrest

das stundenlange Sitzen ist nicht selten eine überaus anstrengende Herausforderung. / Foto: Picture-Factory /

Spending hours sitting is quite often an extremely strenuous challenge. Picture: Picture-Factory /

In the best case, a footrest should only ever be considered a stopgap or a pragmatic interim solution. Many health experts criticise the use of footrests as it can lead to a restriction of dynamic sitting.

They criticise that the required freedom of movement is not guaranteed with the footrest. This is because the footrest prescribes a very specific foot position and leg posture. This leads to fatigue more quickly and also affects the blood circulation down from the pelvis. This can lead to circulatory problems in the feet and legs. As a temporary measure, an ergonomic footrest will always improve the sitting position considerably.

Some scientists strongly recommend the use of footrests. According to them, the feet are placed in a formidable position by the slightly inclined footrests. The feet are on the ground, thus relieving the legs and the footrest also serves as a preventive measure against circulatory problems.

The advantages of ergonomic supports cannot be denied. People working in an office suffer from varicose veins far less when they have a footrest. The reason for that is that the legs have much better circulation when they are in the correct inclination and height. Footrests are perfect for smaller people who have to share their workplace with colleagues. The adjustable inclination of the footrest means that it can be ideally adapted to any body size.

Scope of application

Mehr Sitzen Bewegungsmangel

We keep sitting more and more every year. The result is a lack of exercise.
Picture: Fiedels /

People who sit a lot at work move far too little. Muscles become slack due to the lack of movement. For a healthy blood circulation, however, movement is the be-all and end-all. The consequences of a lack of movement during working hours are often swollen and thick legs and varicose veins. By sitting in an unhealthy position, the body assumes an incorrect position which often results in neck and shoulder pain.

The areas of application for footrests are workplaces at the desk or the private desk at home. Footrests are always perfect for workplaces with no adjustable desk.

Footrests are also ideal for standing desks but serve a different purpose. When standing ergonomically, it is important to introduce a certain dynamic. The posture of the person working at the standing desk should be changed continuously. For example, the person can stand with one leg on the floor and rest the other leg comfortably on the footrest.

In this way, the leg muscles are alternately relieved and strained. This alternation ensures that the blood circulation in the legs is ideally promoted. Tension and muscular imbalances can thus be avoided.

Footrests can also serve as a movement trainer and leg relief. With the correct inclined position, they can prevent vascular diseases of the legs. Footrests can be used optimally as a movement trainer by means of a rocking and tilting mechanism. In this way, the rocking or swaying footrest supports the vein pump.

Statistics on back injuries caused by desk work

A standing desk has a lot of advantages.

If you don’t want to sit on your office chair for hours, you should opt for an electrically height-adjustable desk.

In Germany, approximately  70 million days of absence per year are entirely due to back and skeletal disorders. Healthy sitting should therefore be part of every workplace.

The ergonomic adjustment of the office chair and the exact desk height are basic conditions for a healthy and correct sitting position. The cause of pain in the back is usually congested fasciae. Pilates is ideal for fascia training.
However, the footrests can help the employee in the office to take care of his back, legs, shoulders as well as his neck in a simple way even during working hours.

With the footrest, one improves one’s posture while sitting and this automatically reduces tension. Unfortunately, posture problems and back pain are very common in the workplace, due to the lack of movement. Many employees still work under completely incorrect ergonomic conditions.

The lack of movement at the desk can lead to harmful and one-sided strain on certain muscle groups. Bad posture can cause back pain and chronic headaches. In order to prevent secondary diseases, ergonomic workplace equipment is essential.

There must be freedom of movement, and legroom is necessary. If the desk cannot be adjusted to the appropriate working height, then the footrest is totally worth it.

The correct adjustment of footrests is essential

If the workplace is not very well equipped ergonomically, then a height-adjustable footrest will help. The main purpose of the footrest is to be able to adjust the desired height. The correct adjustment of the footrest is important because it can relieve pressure at the desk. High-quality models have a certain size and an adjustable angle of inclination.

The better the model, the more it promotes the necessary blood circulation in the legs. If the footrest is adjusted correctly, it helps to distribute the existing pressure more gently and equally when sitting or standing.

The post "Sitting more healthy with the help of a footrest" written by:

Sophie Voigtländer

Expertin für Bürogestaltung und Ergonomie

Sophie arbeitet seit Anfang 2021 bei Büromöbel Experte und ist hauptsächlich für die Übersetzung aller möglichen Texte in die englische Sprache zuständig.

Sie hat Internationale Kommunikation und Übersetzen studiert.

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