Those who have met me in person will know I’m of medium height, well-built, and with ample beard and paunch.  Other features of my physique may not be have been so obvious, unless you have much more of an eye for it than I do.

One person who is more perceptive than most is my aunt, who observed of my teenage self that I had a very long back, and warned that I was likely to suffer from it in later life.  She was right: I now have a long history of managing back pain.  The corollary to that is short legs.  Oh, and a large head.  Not so far from the norm as to be an obvious feature like the beard and paunch, but still some way off the average.

But our society is built for average people.  We have some consciousness of the needs of the obviously-different: we can see that tall people need more legroom, or that short people may need a hand reaching things.  It’s less obvious that someone my size might struggle to fit into all our standard scenarios, yet it’s become increasingly obvious over the years.  For example, I can’t sit in the back seat of most saloon cars (hatchbacks are fine) without having to bend the head over.

Much more recently I’ve come to the realisation that this may be one reason for my long-standing problem with sustained sitting down.  Particularly in an office or dining chair (the kind of situation where you sit up).  And in many other seats I need to bring the legs up under me to something like a lotus position to survive more than a few minutes without severe pain. Seats are made for that idealised average person, and don’t fit me.  Which is why I do a lot of my work in other postures: at the treadmill desk, or lying down and using the laptop.

No such problem on a step or a rock: their size is much less tailored to that average person, and consequently less problematic.  But that’s not so useful for work, or anything else involving sitting at the ‘puter.

Anyway, as I write I’m sitting in a new office chair I just bought.  Sadly there’s nowhere I can go to a showroom and pick the ideal chair (Staples still exists locally but nowadays has a very meagre selection in-store), so I have to buy online, which makes it pot luck whether I get anything tolerable.  This one is selected for its dimensions: it’s lower than average (which I need), and it also has a seat which, while reasonably wide, is less deep than most.  So it’s at least physically possible for me to sit on it in a recommended posture with knees clear of the front of the seat and feet on the floor.  I’m trying it, though alas with limited success: it’s going to take practice if I’m ever to make it!

Alas, the back of the chair is not so good.  I think it’s for a shorter person than me.  I just don’t fit.

Posted on June 2, 2016, in back pain. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Speaking as one who knows, and regularly mixes with, a lot of people of Chinese ethnicity – they tend to have disproportionately short legs, compared to their overall height (which is only slightly below average, around here at least).

    So you might consider, if you can source it, trying some furniture designed by or for them. Just a suggestion.

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