Plain and simple: Humans aren’t designed to sit still for hours on end. But unfortunately that is exactly what most of us do at work every day. To be able to pay our bills, our jobs require this.
So, are there alternatives?
One popular new innovation is the kneeling chair.
The kneeling chair is somewhat controversial. Even the name raises questions: How comfortable would a kneeling chair really be? Will it improve my posture? Will it hurt my knees? Do I really need to get rid of my desk chair?
In this article, we’ll get to the bottom of these questions and cut through the confusion around the kneeling chair vs office chair debate. First, let’s establish what a kneeling chair is and how it functions.
A Kneeling Chair vs A Traditional Office Chair
Active sitting is an essential part of working at a desk. Now, the phrase “active sitting” might sound a little contradictory.
Yet, it simply means that you’re engaging your back and core muscles, rather than sitting almost completely still for hours on end, hunching forward — which may result in more aches and pains than not.
It also means that you can move around a bit, which is exactly what the body needs, especially when sitting for hours on end.
So, what’s a kneeling chair got that a traditional chair doesn’t?
A kneeling chair is designed to promote active movement and ideal posture.
Quality kneeling chairs, like these Sleekform models, provide a comfortable cushion base for you to sit on, and tilts your body forward so that you’re “kneeling” on the padded knee and shin rests, which are placed at the perfect angle.
Some models, like the Draggon from Vivo, also provide backrests for extra support.
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The point of this layout is keep your spine in the best position. Sitting in a regular chair tends to leave us slouching or hunched over — even when, sometimes, using the most ergonomically designed chairs.
A kneeling chair helps your body to get into a healthy posture naturally, keeping you comfortable and taking the pressure off your hips and back.
In other words, this might be the solution you’ve been looking for when it comes to preventing back or hip pain from sitting all day long at your desk.
The Pros and Cons of a Kneeling Chair
Before you throw away your old desk chair in favor of one of the best new kneeling chairs, it’s always good to do a little research. As with many new changes to your lifestyle, you’ll want to introduce your new chair gradually.
And here’s another twist: Kneeling chairs aren’t a good fit for everyone. So, don’t necessarily rush out and buy the newest model until you’ve weighed a few of the pros and cons. And maybe try one out (before committing to it).
Better spine alignment
A serious problem with regular office chairs are the strain they put on your back and pelvis. A traditional chair puts your body at a 90% trunk/thigh angle, whereas the kneeling chair angle is around 110%. This means that less pressure is put on your lower back (goodbye dreaded back pain!).
Helps with breathing and digestion
It might be strange to think that poor posture and a bad chair could cause breathing and digestion problems, but it’s true. When you sit in a chair, you squash your internal organs a little bit. Have you ever noticed that you’ve had stomach pains after sitting down right after eating? This might be why.
However, using a kneeling chair opens your pelvis, preventing organ compression caused by poor posture.
Engages back and core muscles
The stronger your back and core muscles are, the better. This will improve posture and lower your risk of back pain.
Evenly distributes weight
Instead of focusing all your weight on your hips and lower back, a kneeling chair stacks your weight more evenly and keeps your shoulders, back, and hips more optimally aligned.
This may sound good.
Yet, with anything, the kneeling chair also comes with some downsides. Our hope is that through this article you can make a more informed decision about exactly what you need to optimize your office space.
So, let’s take a look at the disadvantages of using a kneeling chair.
Can’t be used all day
While some models are suitable to be used continually during an 8-hour workday. In most cases, you will need to use your kneeling chair along with a regular office chair. It might be best to actually alternate between the two.
May put pressure on shins
A kneeling chair’s design means that — you’ve guessed it — you need to kneel. You won’t put your whole weight on your knees. However, you will put pressure on your shins. Over time, this can cause circulation issues as well as some discomfort.
Can be difficult to use for those with health issues
Getting off and on a kneeling chair can be difficult for a person with weight, health, or mobility issues. Leg movements in a kneeling chair will also be somewhat restricted.
The Pros and Cons of a Traditional Chair
Perhaps after reading the cons to a kneeling chair, you’ve decided to stick with your trusty old office chair. Not so fast!
Let’s take a look at a few pros and cons to using a traditional chair in the office. Should you alternate between a kneeling chair and a traditional chair?
For many people, budget is the number one consideration when buying a new office chair. Newer innovations, like a kneeling chair or wobble board, can be very expensive and it’s recommended that you periodically use a regular chair as well. On the other hand, a well-designed, ergonomic office chair can be purchased for a reasonable price, and there are plenty of choices available.
For some people, a traditional office chair really is the best choice. If you have health issues, are recovering from an injury, are pregnant, or are dealing with advancing age, a standard office chair may be your best (and only) option.
Even a basic traditional chair offers a variety of adjustments in the height and back angle, whereas some more modern styles of chair allow very little, if any, adjustments.
May cause health problems
Sitting for a long time isn’t good for us. A traditional office chair won’t encourage good posture and even weight distribution. This can lead to back, neck, shoulder, and hip pain. In fact, a badly arranged desk and chair can cause a whole range of health problems over time.
Limits active movement
Humans are designed to keep moving. Traditional office chairs aren’t designed to encourage movement. Instead, they trap us in one position, and over time your health will suffer.
Which Should You Choose?
So, which is best for you?
Whether you choose a kneeling chair or a traditional office chair is very much up to your individual circumstances.
For example, if you suffer from health or mobility issues, or are recovering from an operation or an injury, it would be best for you to stick with a traditional chair for now. This is especially true if you’ve recently had work done on your hips, knees, or lower back.
A kneeling chair will inevitably place more stress on these weaker areas post-surgery.
However, a traditional office chair may offer up a bit more support in these cases.
However, if your desk chair is causing back pain, a kneeling chair can go a long way to easing that pain, or even getting rid of it altogether.
You can alternate between a kneeling chair and traditional office chair as you please to ensure your body doesn’t remain in the same position for too long.
The best way to find out if it’s right for you? Again, try it out! See if it feels good for your workspace and office set-up.