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How Foot Rests Contribute to Ergonomics

21 April 2023

When we talk about workspace ergonomics, we usually think about desks and ergonomic office chairs. These are undoubtedly the most important parts of your workspace ergonomics, and it's quite understandable why they'd be the first thing you think of.

But while they do contribute greatly to your workspace ergonomics, that's not where your considerations should end. You should also look at and keep in mind other aspects of your workstation and requirements.

A foot rest is just one of the extra items that could significantly improve your workspace. While not everyone needs one, if you do, you'd find that you're putting yourself at a great risk by not having one.

Here's how foot rests contribute to ergonomics and some of the benefits you can take advantage of.

Why You Need a Foot Rest For Ergonomics

Office chairs nowadays - especially ergonomic office chairs - are quite adjustable, and while this is great for making sure your posture is correct, they can't do everything for us. At the end of it, they're just tools that we have to use to make our space more suitable for us.

Ergonomic office chairs usually come with a problem for short people: if the height of the chair is adjusted to make sure the user's arms and back are in the right position while working, there is a great chance that their feet will not be reaching the floor.

This is because the chairs are made for the purpose of serving as many people as possible, and are thus centered around an average demographic. For people taller than average wouldn't have the same problem, though the chairs can cause other issues for them.

Ergonomic foot rests make sure that short people are able to sit at their desks while maintaining the correct upper and lower body posture.

How a Foot Rest Can Help

A foot rest helps get rid of the problem of your feet not reaching the floor.

The correct sitting posture is such that your feet should be resting flat on the floor - this means no heels! - and your thighs should be horizontal, but slightly above the knees. Your lower legs should be bent at a 90 degree angle to your thighs.

When it comes to your feet, just the toes touching the floor isn't enough because the weight of your body isn't distributed evenly. For proper support, your soles should be on the floor so your body weight is properly distributed.

Without a foot rest, chances are that your legs would be dangling and hanging freely, which causes problems with blood circulation. This is especially true for your blood flow in the thighs and at the back of your knee, which can result in problems like thrombosis and varicose veins.

You'd notice the problem when you feel tingling in your legs and a sensation of them having fallen asleep. When you stand up after sitting like this for long stretches of time, you'd have trouble walking and may even feel pain.

In some cases, you'd find that your lower back may also start to hurt because as the pull of gravity acts on your dangling or unsupported feet, the muscles at the lower back start to strain in an attempt to try and keep you sitting up the right way.

In the long-run, this can cause greater problems like knee pain, circulatory problems, muscle strain and more, which are difficult to recover from.

Do You Need a Foot Rest?

If you fall below the average height, you'll most likely need a foot rest for your workspace. After all, if you sit for hours on end, you'll definitely face some trouble if your body is not properly supported through the day.

Good posture is necessary for health and should always be maintained, no matter what. In fact, most problems at the office usually have to do with how you're sitting, and whether your feet reach the floor or not is also part of your posture.

One way to get rid of the problem of your desk height is to opt for a desk that allows you to adjust its height. These desks are called sit-stand desks, such as Flexispot's Kana Pro Standing Desk and you can use it with an adjustable office chair to sit at the right height and posture.

However, not everyone is able to invest in a brand new desk, especially not if they have already been given their office furniture by their employers. Not to mention, desks are usually expensive!

You can also opt for the easy way out by using empty boxes as a foot rest, but these aren't necessarily very useful. While they do help with keeping your feet flat, they may not provide proper support. In fact, sometimes these can make your feet fatigued because you can't use them at the right angle.

Picking Out The Right Foot Rest

So, knowing that you need a foot rest isn't enough, you also have to find one that works for you.


How high should your foot rest be?

Typically, you'd want one between 2 and 5 inches tall. Of course, this depends on your stature and how long your legs are. A foot rest should be high enough that your feet can rest on it casually, even if you want your legs out straight, angled a bit down, or any other posture. The point is to have your feet flat on the ground.


There are different types of foot rests you can choose from as well, since each of these will provide different benefits for you, ergonomically.

Fixed Foot Rests

Fixed foot rests are generally less common, most likely because being fixed takes away from the ergonomic benefit you'd want to get from a foot rest. If it's fixed, it won't work for different body types, so you want some level of adjustment there in height and angle for it to be useful. However, with fixed foot rests, it's common to have some inclination because this allows your feet to rest comfortably.

Adjustable Foot Rests

Adjustable foot rests are more common since the height and angle can be adjusted to something that suits you. Some are adjustable only in height, and some come with a semicircular top that allows you to pick your angle without needing any adjustment.

Adjustable foot rests are great since they allow more dynamic movement of your feet and promotes blood circulation due to the rocking movement.

Flexispot's Under Desk Foot Hammock is an example of an adjustable foot rest that also comes with portability so you can keep your feet rested and relaxed regardless of where you're sitting.

The downside of rocking foot rests is that they don't necessarily come with a height adjustment option, which can become a bit of a limitation. However, depending on the workspace and the user's height and stature, it may still work out for them.

Materials Used

Foot rests can be made of hard materials and soft materials. Hard ones are usually plastic or metal, while some are made of wood. If you're going to use the foot rest without your shoes, hard ones can be quite troublesome since they can make your feet uncomfortable, so they may not be the best option.

Other times, foot rests are made of softer materials, like foam, which keep your feet comfortable and safe while also carrying out the function of a foot rest. However, make sure you don't use a foam foot rest with shoes since they can start accumulating dust and dirt and can be difficult to clean.

You can also find inflatable foot rests which can be very helpful in terms of portability since you can carry them around anywhere. However, these are best kept for travel and emergencies, since they're not very good for everyday use in the office.

Also make sure that the foot rest you go for is made of sturdy material so it doesn't fall apart when you're using it.


Another consideration to make is the size of the foot rest and how much space it takes under the desk. If your desk isn't very big, you'd find that the foot rest may end up taking quite a lot of under desk space, and leave you with very little for any other foot movements. This can be restricting and difficult to work with.

At the end of the day, the purpose of a foot rest is to help you attain good posture. Though you do need to research on the type you go for, a foot rest is going to be very useful in keeping you comfortable through the long work day and prevent problems in your lower body.