We had a kneeling chair delivered to the ChairOffice HQ a few months ago (as a new product sample), and we all had great fun testing it out and figuring out how it worked.
However, once the novelty wore off (and the boss suggested we all get back to work) we all retired to our traditional office chairs, and the kneeling chair was left in the corner, only to be used as a foot support when one of our team broke his leg.
Spurred on by the increasingly-mentioned health implications of prolonged sitting, I decided to switch my office chair for the (now slightly dusty) kneeling chair, and see what happened if I used it every day for a week.
As one who needs to know the background information about everything, I did a quick Google search and discovered that Hans Christian Mengshoel is celebrated as the inventor of the modern-day kneeling chair we use today, with his design he made back in 1979.
However,it has been said that the concept of kneeling chairs can be traced back to ancient Buddhist traditions, where Buddhists use pillows and benches to create a comfortable kneeling position for extending periods of meditation.
A scientific study published in the National Centre for Biotechnology Information found that lumbar curvature on an ergonomically designed kneeling chair is definitely superior to a standard computer chair:
“The study suggests that ergonomically designed kneeling chairs set at +20 degrees inclination to maintain standing lumbar curvature to a greater extent than sitting on a standard computer chair with an overall mean difference of 7.633 degrees.”
Armed with all the information anyone would possibly need on kneeling chairs, I started my week…
My initial transition to the kneeling chair went down relatively well(apart from a few odd looks from my co-workers), I felt perfectly comfortable and supported, and felt no immediate difference comfort-wise from my normal office chair.
However, mid-way into the first day, I did find myself struggling slightly with the adjustment. The kneeling chair naturally forces you to sit up, and after a while I found myself missing the back of my chair, which I usually rely on to hold me up when the morning coffee starts wearing off.
In fact, the kneeling chair really opened my eyes as to how poor my ‘relaxed’posture really is. Towards the end of the first day I was acutely aware of muscles that I normally never think about (abs, thighs, lower back).
Another quick search in Google gave me an answer as to why:
“Traditional chairs provide your back with complete support, which means your core muscles really aren't doing a whole lot of work. This is one of the main causes of poor posture. After a while, your back starts hunching over your keyboard. The lack of back support on a kneeling chair forces your core muscles to get to work and keeps them engaged throughout the day. After consistent use,you will notice great improvement in your core strength and improved muscle tone.”
Apparently,my previous chair didn't require my body to do actively hold itself up, and that fact that I could feel a twinge in my muscles proved that they had been‘active’ throughout that day.
As the week progressed, I adjusted to the kneeling chair and found it to be a comfortable and engaging office solution. The position the kneeling chair made me sit in actually made me feel much more engaged with my work – I felt ‘awake’and more focused than I normally do (don’t tell my boss!).
Any initial discomfort was caused simply by the initial swap, and as I grew more accustomed to the kneeling chair I felt much more comfortable. I did sometimes catch myself enviously glancing at my colleagues in their high-backed chairs, but realised that they were all slouching or hunched over their desks – and I wasn't!
I'm a fan. I actually still continue to use the kneeling chair, although I admit I tend to swap back to my old chair some afternoons. What can I say? Sometimes I WANT to slouch!
If you’re thinking of trying an alternative seating solution, I would recommend trying a kneeling chair. Here are some of the reasons why it might be the perfect option for you:
Back Pain Relief - The kneeling chair reduces lower back pain by distributing the body's weight more evenly.
Improve Your Posture - Even ergonomic office chairs make it difficult and laborious to maintain a neutral and healthy spine position.
Core Muscle Development - Traditional chairs provide your back with complete support, which means your core muscles really aren't doing a whole lot of work. This is one of the main causes of poor posture. After a while, your back starts hunching over your keyboard. The lack of back support on a kneeling chair forces your core muscles to get to work and keeps them engaged throughout the day. After consistent use,you will notice great improvement in your core strength and improved muscle tone.
Comfort - One of the biggest misconceptions that people have about kneeling chairs is that it causes discomfort in the knees. Despite its name, kneeling chairs actually divide the weight between your spine, thighs and your shins.
Increased Concentration - Poor posture eventually leads to fatigue, discomfort and loss of productivity. By keeping the spine properly aligned, comfort and concentration are greatly increased.