Ergonomics done right.®
February 20th, 2013

High Heels: How to Adjust Your Work Surface

By Kerri Maurina, AEP

Women who wear high heels to work may struggle with positioning the height of their chair and work surface, especially since heel heights can vary on a daily basis. Working at a surface that is too high or too low can increase ergonomic risk, especially when seated at a workstation for 8 hours or more. If the workstation is too high, the shoulders will be in a raised position that can lead to discomfort during prolonged keying activities. On the other hand, if the workstation is too low, it can lead to compression at the wrist due to the flexed posture of the hands.

Below are steps on how to position your work surface if you have an adjustable tray table and/or keyboard tray table.

1. Adjust the height of your seat so your feet are flat on the floor. Ensure that your knees are bent at an approximate angle of 90 degrees where thighs are parallel to the floor.

2. Next, position the chair arm rests so your elbows/forearms are located just above the rests. For an accurate height, bend your elbows at 90 degrees with your forearms parallel to the floor. Then position the forearm rests directly underneath your elbows/forearms.

3. Once the arm rests are positioned properly, adjust the height of the work surface so it is at or slightly higher than the chair arm rests. The forearm rests will serve as a  guide for the height of your work surface. Remember arm rests should not be used while keying.

4. When you wear different heel heights, always adjust the height of your chair first. Once your feet are flat on the floor, re-adjust the work surface height so it is at or slightly higher than the arm rests of your chair. This will ensure that you are always working at your elbow height which will reduce the amount of ergonomic risk related to compression at the forearms and wrists.