At AllAboutChairs, we have tried and discussed a variety of office chairs. If you need the best office chair or the best ergonomic office chair, we’ve got you covered. However, we haven’t talked about specific kinds of chairs before. And having received multiple questions about this, we figured it would be useful to do an article on kneeling chair benefits.
If you just want a quick and simple answer, take a look at the following picture.
But perhaps we should first start at the beginning:
What is a kneeling chair?
A kneeling chair doesn’t really look like a chair. Sure, you’re using it as a chair, but it just doesn’t feel the same. According to Wikipedia, a kneeling chair is:
“a type of chair for sitting in a position with the thighs dropped to an angle of about 60 to 70 degrees from vertical (as opposed to 90 degrees when sitting in a normal chair), with some of the body’s weight supported by the shins.”
As you can see from this picture, sitting on a kneeling chair means folding your legs backwards, while sitting on a slanted seat. There generally is no back support and there are no armrests either.
But if you want a quick AllAboutChairs-definition:
A Kneeling Chair is a chair that ensures great posture.
Kneeling Chair Benefits
So what are the main benefits of kneeling chairs? Well, as is apparent from our infographic at the top of this page, the main benefits include:
- Weight redistribution
- When you sit on a normal desk chair or office chair, all your weight is supported by your buttocks and the seat padding. In contrast, a kneeling chair ensures that your weight is distributed. This means that your shins will also carry some of the weight. It doesn’t mean that you’re not sitting anymore; the majority of your weight will still be supported by your seat. However, the small redistribution means that you have a lower chance of developing tailbone pain (also called coccyx pain). A pain that often occurs when sitting on a hard surface for longer periods of time.
- May provide support when pregnant
- Although we do not have any scientific research to back this claim, numerous websites indicate that lower back pain in pregnant women can be reduced by using a kneeling chair. Allegedly, the kneeling chair reduces pressure on the womb, which in turn relieves some of the pressure on your back.
- It’s true, it may take a while before getting used to sitting on one of these. However, if you’re a habitual ‘kneeling chair user’, you’ll find that it’s in fact very comfortable. The posture you take improves the room you have to take a breath and decreases muscle tension.
- Improving your core strength
- In a normal office chair you would sit rather passively. In contrast, on a kneeling chair you have to sit actively. You’re forced in an upright position, which might feel awkward at first. But this also means that you’re actively working on your core strength. Great stuff.
- Better posture
- As said, a kneeling chair forces you to sit upright. In fact, it forces you to actively work on a good posture. You keep your spine somewhat straight and in this way the chair automatically improves your posture. Even your posture when standing is improved when using these kinds of chairs.
- It’s easier to reach forward
- This is a no-brainer. The inclined seat ensures that you’re forced to keep your upper body in a forward position. If you have a table that fits your kneeling chair well, this is especially useful for everyone who needs much table space. Designers, architects, artists, you name it.
- Lower chance of developing lower back pain
- This is one of the most important kneeling chair benefits. Because as we know all to well at allaboutchairs.com, a bad seating posture may result in lower back pain. Using a kneeling chair does not always cure or prevent lower back pain. However, the chance of developing lower back pain is sharply diminished if you use this chair according to the instructions provided.
Scientific research about kneeling chairs
It may be clear that we know a lot about chairs. After all, we’re chair experts!
However, you should always be wary of vague reviews and information on the internet. That is why we took a quick look at the available scientific research about kneeling chairs.
The question is, of course:
Do kneeling chairs provide better posture and prevent back pain?
In a study from 2008, three researchers researched whether the use of a kneeling chair positively influenced your so-called “standing lumbar curvature”. In other words, does an ergonomically designed kneeling chair have a positive effect on your posture?
According to this study, yes, it does. Using a kneeling chair at an inclination of 20 degrees generally seems to allow for a better posture. In turn, this might mean that you have a smaller chance of developing lower back pain!
Note though that ‘standard’ office chairs (such as the chairs we covered in our best office chair under $200 article) ALSO have a positive impact on your posture!
However, the difference is greater when you use a kneeling chair.
A kneeling chair is likely to have a positive influence on your lumbar curvature and posture.
Other things to consider
When you’re thinking of buying or using a kneeling chair, there are a few things to consider. First and foremost, you have to note that sitting on a kneeling chair for a prolonger period might initially not be very comfortable.
Similar to balance ball chairs (as featured in our piece on chairs that are specifically designed to provide you with a good posture), you need some practice when using these chairs.
Why? Well, that is because you will use muscles that you generally don’t use when sitting. Sitting on a kneeling chair means straightening your back, and that is something that most people don’t do when sitting on a generic office chair.
In addition, sitting on a kneeling chair might not be as comfortable as you had hoped. Besides needing time to train your muscles, you will also need to get used to the inclined seat and knee/shin cushions.
Should you opt for a kneeling chair (- good choice! -), we recommend changing your posture throughout the day. For instance, do not use the same chair continuously, or slightly change your posture once every half an hour or so. You can temporarily only use one leg on the knee cushions and stretch out the other.
Also note that while the scientific research is quite positive about kneeling chairs, there are a few instances in which a kneeling chair is not the right choice.
First, if you have problems or pain in your legs and/or knees, it might be wise to choose for a ‘normal’ great office chair instead. Kneeling chairs might slightly reduce the circulation in your knees, which is why we would not recommend this is you’re feeling any kind of pain in your legs.
Second, if your not very mobile, these chairs might also not be the best pick. The chairs need some practice with getting on (or getting in, we should say) and getting off. If you’re not as mobile as you used to be, pick an ergonomic office chair instead.
Third, in our opinion, kneeling chairs do not always fit a formal setting. We’re the last ones to say that function (and ergonomics) is less important than form, but still. If you’re sitting on a kneeling chair in the middel of a business meeting, you might look less professional than you would like.
Last and not least, the table or workstation you use must fit the chair, and the other way around. Some kneeling chairs are quite low. Aside from not being the best choice for tall people, you also have to make sure that the table you have is of a similar height. If not, you’ll surely regret your purchase!
That’s it! We hope we gave you some useful information about what kneeling chairs are and kneeling chair benefits. Soon we will provide you with a review of the best kneeling chairs. But until then, take a look at this section, where we discuss office chairs such as the Steelcase Gesture, the Alera Elusion, and many more!