As self-confessed chair geeks, we are intrigued by anything that can help correct our posture or make our working lives happier, healthy and more productive. One such chair that we often get asked about is our unusual looking kneeling stools.
A kneeling chair or stool works on the principle of distributing weight between the buttocks and the knees. Created In 1979 the original modern kneeling stool, the ‘Balans chair’ was designed to drop the thighs an angle of about 60 to 70 degrees from vertical which distributes most of your body weight between the knees and shins. In a conventional office chair, you would be sat at a 90-degree angle with your weight distributed across the buttocks and back of the thighs.
The thought behind this shift in weight distribution was that the kneeling chair would reduce lower back strain and keep the core muscles engaged for a more active sitting posture. This, in theory, would also make the chair more suitable for people that had Coccyx pain as there would be less pressure on the tailbone.
We think that used in short bursts i.e. In conjunction with a standing desk or for short tasks like handwriting, the kneeling stool is a good option. When used correctly, a kneeling stool can encourage an open hip angle. This pushes your hips forward to promote an upright posture, shoulders, neck and spine. Saddle chairs also work with this kind of open hip principle but can often be specified with backrests, different width seats, and backrests for additional support.
There are a few things to keep in mind if you are considering a kneeling chair over a conventional office chair.
Firstly, as with any office chair, if you are purchasing them for an office environment make sure the chair meets DSE regulations.
Secondly, as we mentioned in ‘why you shouldn’t sit on a gym ball at work’ post, you need to be aware that it is unsustainable to constantly keep your core engaged for prolonged periods, meaning that you can often end up curving your spine into a C-shaped slump.
You might have spotted a common theme if you are a regular reader of this blog. We believe that the more movement and activity you can squeeze into your day, the better.
Modern ergonomic office chairs have been painstakingly designed to ensure more movement whilst supporting your body – particularly the weight-bearing lumbar region and thighs. Used in conjunction with a height-adjustable desk, an adjustable ergonomic chair could ensure an active and ergonomic setup. Unless you are switching between tasks, we wouldn’t recommend a kneeling chair for prolonged periods of sitting.
Points to consider from our resident ergonomics expert – Jo Blood:
- Kneeling chairs are not recommended for anyone who has issues with their knees
- They don’t have the same height range as standard chairs so can make it difficult to sit at the right height for your desk
- You need to be quite regimented in getting up regularly as you are sitting with your legs trapped in one place a bit like an aeroplane seat, so you should get up every 30 -40 mins to stretch the legs and get the blood moving
- Kneeling chairs work well as a home office solution for someone who occasionally uses a desk in the evening i.e to check emails briefly
- They can work well, but the bottom line is that this is a chair you need to try and sit on to see if it suits you.