Kneeling chairs are a popular office chair option for reducing lower back pain.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “low back pain is one of the leading causes of activity limitation and work absence throughout much of the world”.
Most of us are seated for long periods throughout our workdays. So finding the right ergonomic chair that supports good posture is key to pain reduction and increased productivity.
Does this mean that you can use a kneeling chair all day?
Let’s look into this.
Can You Use a Kneeling Chair All Day?
You can use a kneeling chair throughout the day, but you should not use a kneeling chair all day.
Kneeling chairs have several health benefits. However, the key to good back health is avoiding stagnation. You should have multiple chairs that you can switch between during your day.
Changing up your sitting position is the best way to reduce back pain.
That said, if you work or study in a chair all day, kneeling chairs are an excellent ergonomic chair option with a myriad of health and posture benefits.
How Kneeling Chairs Work
Kneeling chairs sit at a higher angle than a standard 90-degree angle chair. Typically, around 110-degrees to 130-degrees.
Designed to encourage an elevated and open-hip angle while seated, they help to reduce a hunched posture where the spine is C-shaped.
When the body hunches forward, the discs between the vertebrae become compressed. Disc compression leads to back pain, especially in the lower back.
When seated at a higher angle with the legs underneath you, your spine is naturally encouraged to curve into a comfortably poised S-shape.
There is a common misconception that the knees support the entire body weight while sitting on a kneeling chair. Like a conventional chair, the weight of your body is still in your buttocks and thighs.
The difference with a kneeling chair is that its unconventional angel shifts your center of gravity forward, distributing your weight differently to promote the natural curvature of your spine.
Your knees should be resting gently on the padded surface underneath you but not bearing your entire body weight.
How Kneeling Chairs Work to Relieve Pain in the Body
Kneeling chairs work to relieve body pain by shifting your center of gravity while seated. This works to retrain the muscle memory in your body.
Prolonged use of standard chairs has accustomed our bodies to not need to work to hold ourselves upright.
Kneeling chairs activate our core to retrain our core muscle memory and help reduce pain in several parts of the body.
The natural curve of a healthy spine has an S-shape. Conventional chairs encourage us to use the backrest. The 90-degree angle of a regular chair promotes the spine to hunch into a C-shape, compressing the discs and causing back pain.
Kneeling chairs strengthen the natural curvature of your spine by pushing your hips slightly forward.
The elevated angle encourages a healthy alignment of your spinal cord, decompresses the discs in your lower spine, and reduces back pain.
Neck pain is commonly caused by bad posture, especially in conjunction with a high amount of screen time.
When your spine is in the C-shape, your neck moves too far forward. A healthy neck should be upright and centered.
A properly-positioned kneeling chair helps reduce neck pain by aligning your spine so that your neck is centered. This naturally dissuades your neck from jutting forward.
Kneeling chairs aid in opening the muscles of the chest. By aligning your spine, your shoulders naturally pull back.
This spinal alignment also expands the chest muscles and muscles in the ribcage allowing for easier breathing.
Calm breathing is important for reducing anxiety during a stressful day. Since anxiety can also cause shortness of breath, using an ergonomic chair is one way to promote healthy breathing and manage anxiety.
According to Princeton University, when sitting at a computer desk, your wrists should “not be resting, but held up in line with the backs of your hands.”
If sitting in a kneeling chair all day, your elevated position will make it easier for you to hold your wrists properly and avoid repetitive strain injuries.
Kneeling Chair Design
The design of the kneeling chair has been credited to the Norweigan designer Hans Christian Mengshoel. In 1979 he unmasked the first modern kneeling chair called the Balans chair.
Since then, the design has undergone some modernized touches without losing the open-hip angle it was designed to create in your body.
Now it can be purchased in various designs, made from metal or wood, and have features like adjustable heights or backrests. Below we will discuss some features and designs.
Some models come with adjustable height features. This allows the user to ensure the chair fits their body height and desk height.
It is best to opt for a model with an adjustable height to get the most out of it.
Since kneeling chairs promote better sitting posture, if the height of your chair does not support your height then you will not feel its full benefits.
Sled Base Design
A commonly seen pain point with ergonomic kneeling chairs is that once you sit down, there is not much ease of motion. This can be seen as a benefit to help improve concentration in fidgety people.
But, if your workday requires frequent ups and downs from your chair, the sled-based design offers the easiest in and out access.
If you want a kneeling chair with mobility, then opt for a model that has wheels. Be sure that the wheels have a lock feature. This will allow you to conveniently choose when you want to use them.
Some kneeling chair models come with backrests incorporated into their design. However, this is counter-intuitive.
Kneeling chairs are made to gently support the natural S curvature of your spine. A backrest encourages the sitter into a hunched C curvature of the spine.
It is not recommended to pay extra for a backrest feature.
All kneeling chairs come with padding for knee comfort. The thickness and fabric type are up to you. Remember that your weight is supported by your thighs and buttocks when sitting on a kneeling chair, not your knees.
What Angle Should a Kneeling Chair Have?
Kneeling chairs should be at an angle between 110-degrees and 130-degrees as opposed to the 90-degree angle that conventional chairs have.
Benefits of a Kneeling Chair
Kneeling chairs have a variety of benefits for people who are frequently desk-bound.
They help with improving posture and developing core muscles to reduce back pain and increase concentration. Read more below.
Back Pain Relief
Using kneeling chairs relieves back pain by adjusting your sitting position to take the tension out of those tight areas in your lower back and neck.
Kneeling chairs develop your core muscles to promote a healthy spine. By engaging your core to help stabilize you, you strengthen the muscles that improve your posture.
By opening the chest, shoulder, and muscles around the ribcage, kneeling chairs promote unrestricted breathing for better blood flow and increased concentration.
They also require your body to be in position with your feet below you which restricts movement and can help reduce distractions.
Negatives of Using a Kneeling Chair all-day
While Kneeling chairs have been gaining popularity, there are some aspects to it that are not that great.
Restricted Leg Movement
As mentioned above, as a benefit for reducing distractions, kneeling chairs also have the negative of restricting leg movement.
If your workday requires you to be constantly getting up out of your chair, then this ergonomic option may not be best suited for you.
Soreness with Use
Engaging your core to promote back health is a pivotal way of reducing pain.
However, you may experience some pain in your abdomen and shins during the first weeks of using a kneeling chair since your muscles are now working to keep you in an upright and healthy posture.
Not for all-day sitting
With restricted leg movement and soreness with use, a kneeling chair is not recommended for all-day use.
You will see and feel the benefit best by alternating between different ergonomic chair options.
A kneeling chair is a fantastic piece of furniture for helping generate mindfulness about your spinal curvature by strengthening your core and shifting your pelvis forward.
Keep in mind that, regardless of the chair that you use for work or study, you should be alternating your sitting posture throughout the day.
You shouldn’t use kneeling chairs all day or for a prolonged duration.
But with so many posture and pain relief benefits, this should not stop you from adding a kneeling chair to your office or study space.
Remember, if you can, having a variety of chairs that you can use throughout the day can help you in achieving all these health benefits to their most optimal.
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