The original kneeling chair was created in 1979 by Hans Christian Mengshoel. It was called the Balans chair and revolutionised the standard chairs found in most offices.
The kneeling chair was originally designed to distribute body weight more evenly so that there isn’t as much pressure on the lower back and thighs. Instead, the shins and knees take about 20% of that weight, helping to relieve pressure in the back and improve posture.
With a standard office chair, you are sat at a 90 degree angle with the majority of your weight going into your bottom and the backs of your thighs. A kneeling chair drops your thighs so that the angle is wider between your lower back and thighs.
The chair can reduce the strain being put on your lower back and helps to keep your core muscles engaged for a more active sitting posture. They can easily be stored under the desk, ensuring the office space still looks neat and tidy.
How to sit on a kneeling chair
It’s important that you sit on the kneeling chair correctly, otherwise you could do more damage to your posture.
To start with, sit on the chair like you would any other with your bottom on the seat and your legs on the floor. Adjust your position until you’re comfortable. Then, lift your legs to put your knees on the pads provided.
This seating position may feel strange at first as your muscles aren’t used to it. However, as you continue to use the chair little and often, you’ll begin to see a difference and find a comfortable, neutral position.
Your knees shouldn’t take the brunt of your weight – your bottom should still do this – but the position helps to support your back and alleviate some of the pressure on your spine. If you find that your knees are hurting, you’ll need to adjust your posture so that your bottom is on the seat properly and not perching on the edge.
If you’re quite tall, you may find that your legs don’t sit comfortably on the shin pads. Most kneeling chairs will be adjustable so you should be able to alter the position of the chair to one that suits your height.
You should regularly switch your position throughout the day. You could start with both knees on the pads, and then take one leg off and leave one leg on and then switch over. You should also frequently switch between your kneeling chair, a regular office chair and a standing desk (where possible) to keep all parts of your body moving and active.
Are kneeling chairs good for bad backs?
If you suffer from back pain, a kneeling chair could help ease your symptoms.
Kneeling chairs are designed to make your back arch. This is due to the way your hips are positioned when you’re sat in the chair. Your hips are connected to your lower back muscles, so sitting incorrectly is one of the main causes of lower back pain. The chair works by reangling your hips and putting less pressure on the facet joint. This gives your hips more room and movement,providing a much more natural way of sitting.
Also, your lower back doesn’t have to work as hard to keep you in an upright position which should relieve any pain. Instead, the vertebrae in your back will stack correctly on top of each other to provide the support you need.
Are kneeling chairs good for your posture?
Traditional office chairs provide lots of back support. Whilst this is a good thing, it means that your body doesn’t need to use any muscles to support you as the chair is doing this job for you. This is why people are known to slump in their chairs.
Kneeling chairs keep your spine in a neutral position. By sitting in a kneeling chair, you’re forcing your core muscles to work harder and stay engaged to keep you in an upright position. It’s therefore likely that you’ll notice improvement in your core muscles after using the chair a little bit every day over a period of time.
A kneeling chair might not be as beneficial for people with knee problems, as you’ll be putting more strain on this part of your body. For most people, this isn’t a problem.
Improved posture could be better for your organ function too. This could help to make you more productive at work. When you sit in the correct upright position, the lungs are able to take in more air and the heart can circulate blood around your body more efficiently. The additional oxygen can supply your brain, making you more productive and less tired during the day.
If you’re thinking of purchasing kneeling chairs for your office, there are some things to be aware of. The chair needs to meet the DSE (display screen equipment) standards and regulations. These state that:
- The chair must be stable and allow the user easy freedom of movement and a comfortable position
- The chair shall be adjustable in both height and tilt and a footrest should be made available to those who need one
- The employee must be provided with a suitable chair on a five star base
Because of the final bullet point, all members of staff should have a standard office chair and the kneeling chair should be an addition that’s available to staff if and when they need it. The kneeling chair shouldn’t be used as a replacement of their usual desk chair. The idea is that your employees can swap between the two regularly.
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