Our Lead Consultant Katharine Metters recently explained why we shouldn't use fitness balls as long-term office chairs. This time we’re putting kneeling chairs in the hot-seat (so to speak).
Slump on a chair for eight hours every day, five days a week, 12 months a year and you might find yourself with a debilitating musculoskeletal problem. This could be bad enough to impact all areas of your life, from your personal relationships to your performance at work.
This is why it's so important to choose your office equipment carefully, with expert opinion.
Kneeling chairs - what are they anyway?
Kneeling chairs crept into our offices a few years ago. They presented an entirely new way of sitting that promised to ease those day-to-day aches and pains experienced by so many office workers around the world.
The idea behind the very un-chair-like design is that it positions you with an open hip angle with your bottom and thighs supported by one pad, and your knees and shins supported by another. This 'kneeling' position eases your hips forward to encourage a more upright posture to better align your back, shoulders and neck.
Are kneeling chairs good for you?
There are some differing opinions as to whether kneeling chairs are 'good for you' or not.
Moving regularly is good for you. It breaks you out of static positions that slow your body down and put pressure on you lower back, neck and shoulders. Sitting for long periods of time also slows the metabolism, which reduces the body's ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure, and break down body fat.
Introducing kneeling chairs as a seating option in the office is a good way to encourage more movement. Kneeling chairs promote 'active sitting'. Because there is no back support, the core muscles are required to work to remain upright.
When should you use a kneeling chair?
Kneeling chairs are best used for short-term tasks that require forward reach, like hand-writing, drawing, or sewing.
This is because kneeling chairs confine your legs to one position, which can increase pressure under the kneecaps and slow circulation to the legs.
If you're particularly tall then you may find a kneeling chair uncomfortable - especially for long periods of time. Swap between your office chair, kneeling chair and (if you can) standing throughout the day for the best of all worlds.
Muscles and bones familiar with a particular seating position will need to become accustomed to this new environment and it's perfectly normal to feel stiff or awkward at first in your new kneeling chair. When you have been sitting poorly for some time your body needs to build up the core muscles in your lower back and it may be a good idea to try some regular exercises to rebuild their strength.
What is the proper way to use a kneeling chair?
Your bottom should be carrying the bulk of your weight. The knee pad is there to act as a support for your shins and (to a lesser extent) your knees.
When first sitting in your kneeling chair you should begin by sitting on your kneeling seat, before moving into the kneeling position with the bulk of your weight on your bottom.
It's important to vary your position frequently during the day.
Here are some sitting variations you can try to promote movement:
- Leave your right knee on the knee pad but place your left foot on the floor with your leg extended in front of you. Do the same but reverse the role of your legs.
- Place both feet on the floor with both legs outstretched in front of you.
It's always a good idea to keep your existing office chair so that you can alternate between the two.
Are there any better alternatives to a kneeling chair?
We supply the Wing Balans Kneeling Chair, which allows the sitter's spine to find its natural curve.
However, active sitting comes in many forms, and there are office chairs that can achieve this very well, such as the HÅG Capisco, which incorporates built-in balance mechanisms to move with your body. This stimulates your blood-flow, keeps your muscles engaged and prevents you from sitting in a static posture for too long.
The Capisco is just as versatile as our kneeling chair, making it ideal for hot-deskers, designers, illustrators, artists and crafters.
Unlike the Wings Balans Kneeling Chair, HÅG chairs are supportive and versatile enough to be used all day long.