Researchers and healthcare providers harp on activities that require prolonged sitting, especially if those activities encourage terrible posture that wreaks havoc on your spine. What if you’re the type that doesn’t do well in standing at your desk instead? Let’s consider that there is a middle ground: kneeling at your desk.
Benefits of kneeling chairs
It may be viewed as an unconventional way of sitting at work, but the kneeling chair framework provides a user with many health benefits
Opening up the hip angle
A kneeling chair drops the thighs and knees slightly down, increasing the hip angle from a typical 90 degrees to about 110 degrees.
Shifting the load
This assists in redistributing compression on back muscles to other parts of the body. So, instead the back, shoulder, and neck muscles taking the brunt of the work the quads (thigh muscles) do some of the work.
Back muscles are tiny and can only help the spine so much, whereas the quad muscles are huge and are designed to take more than we give them credit for.
Tilting the hips forward
Think of the hips as a bucket full of water. When you sit in a regular chair, you tend to hunch which tips the bucket backwards. In a kneeling chair, the bucket is tipped forward.
This not only reduces spinal compression, but also better aligns the neck, shoulders, and lower back while in sitting.
Quietly strengthening back and core muscles
While you are kneeling at work, the angle at which you sit subtly works your back and core muscles over time.
As a result, your spine and overall posture are in good health throughout the day because you are building muscle tissue to spinal protection. Plus, you are actually burning calories while doing your desk work!
Enhancing your digestion and breathing capacity
Because your hip angle is bigger, you make more room for your lungs and digestive processes. This means better breathing and increased oxygen to your brain and to the rest of your body.
Additionally, you experience less or reduced tummy troubles so that you can focus less on your body aches and more on your work.
Downsides of kneeling chairs
It’s important to note that kneeling chairs are not for everyone.
Limited range of motion
There are three types of kneeling chairs available on the market: sled based, 5-star base and x base.
The sled based kneeling chair is the only one that allows some flexibility in movement while you work. Unfortunately, there are very few options advertised.
The majority of kneeling chairs are 5-star based and x based which lock you into one position all day. This can be a problem because now you are just sending the immobility problem elsewhere in your body.
Can be uncomfortable
Remember, by using a kneeling chair you are redistributing the work to other parts of your body. If you are deconditioned and not used to keeping up on a steady exercise regimen, than your thighs, core, and back muscles will be sore after repeated use.
Pressure on knees and shins
Due to the angle of the chair, users may experience more pressure on the knees and the shins than you would in a typical chair.
For persons with bad knees, post-surgical knee replacement, decreased skin integrity, or lower leg circulatory problems using kneeling chairs may cause more harm than good.
Can limit leg circulation
Using a kneeling chair can potentially decrease blood circulation, especially if you’re sitting wrong.
Increased pressure on the kneecaps while bending your knees at the same time can reduce circulation, causing lightheadedness, fainting, and loss of sensation throughout the legs.
Kneeling chairs Vs standing desks
If you are considering a standing desk, then it is most likely that you are trying to find a sitting solution that forces you to move more.
Do you burn calories in a kneeling chair?
Yes, you are technically burning calories while seated in a kneeling chair but you are doing so in an isometric form.
In other words, you are not actually moving while contracting your core and back muscles. A standing desk allows for freedom in joint movement, which breaks up the tension in your spine and other areas of your skeletal structure.
There are a few standing desk options, which can be converted or modified so that you don’t necessarily have to stand for 8 hours in a row.
Make sure you research a wide variety of standing desk options as well as height-adjustable stools and chairs with back supports.
If you want an ergonomically friendly sitting option for your work space that allows for even more opportunity for mobility, circulation, breathing capacity, calorie-burning, and digestion then a standing desk may be right for you.
How to sit in a kneeling chair
If you decide to go with a kneeling chair, it is essential to know exactly how to sit in it. Misuse of a kneeling chair can cause unwanted problems and discomfort. So, please consider the following tips:
- Force your torso over your hips: Sitting in a kneeling chair with little effort won’t change your posture. You have to consciously place your core over your hips which will better align your back, shoulders, and neck.
- Keep you knee and shin angle open: Naturally, you are going to have your knees bent in a kneeling chair. Adjust the height of the chair so that your calves aren’t crammed up against the back of your thighs so as to keep your circulation open and your ability to get in and out of the chair safely.
- Create enough space between the seat pad and the knee pad: On most of these chairs, there is an adjustment option where you can pull the seat pad closer or further away from the knee pad. Position the distance so that you have plenty of space to get in and out of the chair.
- Adjust the height accordingly: You want the height of the chair placed in such a way that you are putting more pressure on your thighs rather than your knees or spine. Too much pressure on your knees will cause discomfort, reduced circulation, and potentially loss of sensation throughout your lower legs.
- Position the chair directly facing your work: Some kneeling chairs come with a swivel so that you can easily turn and face your work at various angles. If your chair doesn’t have a swivel, make sure that you place the chair directly facing your work so that you don’t strain or twist your spine and hips.
Kneeling chairs can be a great alternative seating option for your workspace. Make sure that you do your research and assess your own body’s needs before making a hefty purchase.