If there’s one debate that has gone unsettled for far too long among proponents of healthier work environments, the Kneeling Chair vs Standing Desk debate is undoubtedly it.
While each are touted as a better way to work than slouching in a regular office chair all day, not everyone remains in agreement on the overall best way to work.
Complicating matters further is that research into healthy sitting seems to throw up new arguments all the time.
One minute, standing desks are all the rage, being praised as the ultimate way to avoid all of the negative health effects usually associated with long office hours.
The next, we’re all questioning whether standing desks are overrated and whether we’d be better off returning to the kneeling chairs that were once so en vogue.
So which is it?
Are standing desks better than kneeling chairs? Or would we all benefit more from taking the weight off our feet and kneeling down to get our daily work done?
Below, we compare these two workplace options to settle the age-old debate once and for all.
Kneeling Chair vs Standing Desk: Choosing the Best Option for Your Workspace
There’s a seemingly infinite number of kneeling chairs on the market just as there are an endless array of standing desk options, making a true head-to-head comparison somewhat tricky.
For example, how do you compare the best-selling DRAGON by Vivo ergonomic kneeling chair like-for-like with the ever-popular FlexiSpot Electric Height Adjustable Desk?
It’s a pretty impossible task that conjures up that old saying about comparing apples and oranges.
The truth is that both have their benefits, both are designed to help you stave off pain, pressure, stiffness, and fatigue while going through your workday, and both combat the myriad of health problems caused by a sedentary lifestyle.
Another truth is that actually, either one could be considered the best depending on your personal circumstances, health concerns, and general preferences.
With that in mind then, our best approach to settling this debate is simply to weigh up the pros and cons of each option.
Kneeling Chairs: The Pros and Cons
Fans of kneeling chairs insist that they’re a great way to get rid of the kind of damaging neck and back pain that you get from a standard task chair, while those who hate them claim they simply transfer the damage to other parts of the body.
Let’s look at both the positives and negatives of options like the Sleekform Austin Kneeling Chair to see if they’re a good fit for you.
The Pros of Kneeling Chairs
Even if you bought one of the very best ergonomic office chairs around, the temptation to start slouching into a poor, spine-damaging posture eventually becomes too much to resist.
In fact, the longer we spend sitting at our desks, the more likely we are to slip into bad sitting habits without even realizing it.
With a kneeling chair, there’s no such problem.
The unique way that you sit in one of these chairs means you really have no choice but to maintain good posture and keep your spine in its natural shape.
This doesn’t just alleviate back pain in the short term, it also helps to reduce the risk of long-term health problems.
Engage Your Core
If you read our guide to the best ergonomic kneeling chairs, you’ll no doubt recall that this type of seating is very good for engaging your core muscles and helping you build strength and stability.
While this is great for minimizing pain, a strong core can help to reduce the risk of injury in other aspects of life too.
Prevents Organ Compression
One thing that surprised people the most when they read our Kneeling Chair vs. Office Chair comparison was just how much sitting down in a regular office chair tends to compress our internal organs.
This causes all kinds of issues, from making breathing more difficult to negatively impacting your digestive system.
Again, a good quality kneeling chair prevents all that. It forces you to sit up straight so that your organs aren’t squashed, making breathing and digestion much easier.
The Cons of Kneeling Chairs
Puts More Pressure on Other Parts of the Body Instead
The biggest criticism levied at kneeling chairs is that while they may do a great job of taking the pressure off your back, they simply replace it with pressure on the knees and shins.
When you use a kneeling chair, pretty much all of your weight is pressed down onto your legs and this can soon get very uncomfortable.
Not only that, but the odd angle you sit at can end up affecting your circulation, leaving you with that dreaded feeling of pins and needles when you do eventually get up again.
Unsuitable for Some Users
Unlike a regular chair that you basically flop yourself down into, getting into a kneeling chair requires some negotiation.
For people with mobility issues, this can make them simply unusable.
Likewise, people who already have bad knees or who have had knee surgery may find them just too difficult to use.
As tricky as they are to get into, kneeling chairs can be even trickier to get back out of again.
For some people, this can make them just too impractical for day-to-day use.
Sure, they’re fine if you simply need to chain yourself to your desk for a few hours, but if your work is interrupted by trips to the copier, the bathroom, or to go and speak with a colleague, constantly getting in and out of that chair soon feels like more hassle than it’s worth.
Standing Desks: The Pros and Cons
Much like kneeling chairs, standing desks such as the SHW Electric Height Adjustable Mobile Standing Desk have almost as much to like about them as they do to dislike.
Again, deciding whether or not they’re a good fit is all a matter of considering the pros and cons.
The Pros of Standing Desks
Encourages Active Working
Proponents of the standing desk say that the biggest benefit of standing desks is that it prevents all the nasty ways that sitting down can negatively impact our health.
There’s a truth to this, sure, but the main reason that sitting down affects our health isn’t just the fact that we’re sitting, it’s that we’re sitting in the exact same position without moving for far too long.
This is the real benefit of standing desks.
By default, when we’re standing up, we’re much more inclined to move around, even if that’s only the occasional rocking from side to side or stepping up and down to keep the blood flowing.
Make no mistake about it, even though you’re doing very little, sitting down for long periods of time can contribute towards that tired, sluggish feeling we get as the day wears on.
When you’re standing, quite the opposite happens.
Remaining active (as you naturally do at a standing desk), your energy levels remain much more consistent, helping you to stay focused and productive from start to finish.
Contribute Towards Weight Loss
Fans of standing desks claim that one of their biggest benefits is that working at one is a great way to burn calories.
This is partly true.
Spending an hour at a standing desk burns less than half the calories that you’d burn if you spent the same amount of time walking, so it’s important not to ditch your entire exercise routine in favor of a standing desk.
That said, standing does generally burn more calories than sitting down. As such, making the switch can help if you’re trying to reach new weight and health-related goals.
The Cons of Standing Desks
Muscle Soreness and Fatigue Still Happens
Using a standing desk for short periods will definitely help to alleviate the kind of pain, pressure, and stiffness that you get from sitting down for long periods, but standing for a full 8-hour shift at the office isn’t good either.
In fact, doing so can cause just as much damage as long-term sitting.
Increased Risk of Damaged Joints
Spending multiple hours standing up puts extra pressure on your ankles and knees.
At best, this can leave those joints feeling sore when the day is done, at worst, it can contribute to long-term joint damage that may affect you more as you get older.
As we recommended in our guide to the different types of standing desks, this is the reason why it’s just as important to take breaks when working at a standing desk as it is a regular one.
Not Designed for Laptop Users
Think about the way you use a laptop compared to the way you use a desktop computer.
Both require a slightly different setup of the equipment and slightly different movements on your part.
Standing desks are generally designed to accommodate the equipment and movements of desktop computer users, not laptop users.
While it’s not impossible to use a laptop, doing so can end up putting strain on the wrists, neck, and shoulders, causing as much discomfort as in a desk chair.
Kneeling Chair vs. Standing Desk: Our Verdict
We started this piece by saying that the kneeling chair vs. standing desk debate has gone unsettled for too long, and if you’ve read all the way to the end, you can no doubt see why.
The truth is that, just like regular office chairs themselves, near one is a perfect solution to the pitfalls of daily office work.
Yes, a standing desk is great for beating fatigue and taking stress off the back, neck, shoulders, and even knees, but only if it’s used in small doses.
Meanwhile, a kneeling desk can prove very effective for helping to build core muscles and keeping back pain at bay, but it may be simply impractical for some people.
So what’s the solution?
Ultimately, it’s to find the best option for you. If you want to remain active, prevent fatigue and don’t want to spend hours with all your weight on your knees and shins, pick a standing desk.
If maintaining good, healthy posture and a strong core without getting tired feet and ankles at the end of the day matter most, then a kneeling chair like the DRAGON by Vivo ergonomic kneeling chair may be the way to go.
That said, there is a third option:
Using a standing desk converter.
This gives you all the health benefits of active working with the added benefit of being able to eventually sit back down again and prevent fatigue and soreness, ultimately delivering the very best of both worlds.