Sitting all day at your desk while maintaining good posture is not an easy task.
If anything from what we now know, sitting for hours a day slumped in your chair is one of the primary causes of bad posture.
If this is one of your major concerns, say hello to the kneeling chair!
Kneeling chairs are very different from regular office chairs.
For one, they encourage proper posture by distributing your body weight more evenly across your back, legs, and abdominal region encouraging you to sit upright.
The consistent use of kneeling chairs has been associated with improved posture, decreased lower back pain, and increased comfort while sitting for long periods of time.
If you’re someone who wants to develop better posture whilst sitting, you may want to consider getting your own kneeling chair.
In this comprehensive buyer’s guide, we’ll explore the benefits of these alternative ergonomic seats and give you our recommendations for the best kneeling chairs currently on the market.
What is an Ergonomic Kneeling Chair?
A kneeling chair is a special type of chair that is designed to maintain your standing posture while you sit.
As its name suggests, the kneeling chair forces the body into a position where the thighs are dropped to an angle between 60 and 70 degrees (as opposed to the 90-degree angle created when sitting in a traditional chair).
The history of the kneeling chair dates back to the early 1970s when Norwegian designer Hans Christian Mengshoel was inspired to create a new type of sitting furniture that would recreate the posture used by Tibetan monks during prolonged periods of meditation.
The concept of the kneeling chair was furthered in the early 1980s by designers Oddvin Rykken, Peter Opsvik, and Stein Gusrud who set out to reinvent the basic design of the kneeling chair based on the concept that the human body isn’t meant to sit still for extended periods of time.
Their creation, the Balans (“balance”) chair, remains one of the most popular types of kneeling chairs.
The Benefits of Kneeling Chairs over Normal Desk Chairs
So why would you choose a kneeling chair over a traditional office chair?
Well, the answer isn’t just so you can look different and unique to everyone else on a normal chair, a kneeling chair has many benefits with it as well.
One of the biggest draws of the kneeling chair is that if used correctly, it can dramatically help improve your posture when sitting.
Kneeling chairs tilt your hips forward, which helps spread your weight more evenly between the back, neck, and shoulders.
In addition, when you sit on a kneeling chair, the tilt of the seat puts your spine into a position where your chest naturally opens up and you hold your head up high.
This counters the effects of a traditional chair which often promotes slouching leading to unwanted postural problems such as forward head posture and rounded shoulders (known together as upper crossed syndrome).
One study found that sitting on an ergonomic kneeling chair with an angle of 20 degrees was more effective in maintaining lumbar posture than sitting on a traditional office chair.
Back Pain Relief
Kneeling chairs can also help in alleviating back pain which comes about from too much sitting.
Traditional chairs have a flat seat which often forces the lumbar spine out of its natural curve and more towards a straight line.
When the natural curve of the lumbar spine is taken out the unnatural pressure on the spine can lead to lower back pain.
Studies show kneeling chairs may help maintain the natural S-curve of the lumbar region by forcing the lower back to arch.
This significantly reduces pressure on the discs of your spine when sitting for prolonged periods.
If you have back pain when sitting this is a big reason why you may want to consider a kneeling chair.
Many people assume that kneeling chairs are less comfortable than conventional chairs.
In fact, the opposite is true.
Kneeling chairs distribute your weight evenly between your spine and legs, thereby reducing pressure on the spinal column and relieving discomfort.
Core muscle development
Kneeling chairs force you to engage your back and abdominal muscles while sitting instead of relying on a backrest to support you.
Consistent use of kneeling chairs has been found to significantly improve core muscle tone and strength.
Poor posture impedes blood flow, starving the brain of vital nutrients and oxygen.
This can lead to a reduction in productivity.
Kneeling chairs keep the spine properly aligned, which results in better blood circulation.
Summary of Benefits
Kneeling chairs are an excellent option for anyone who:
- Wants to maintain a healthy posture while sitting
- Wants to increase their range of movement while working
- Experiences lower back pain when sitting for long periods of time
- Wants to improve their monitor viewing angle when sitting at a desk
- Wants to improve their core strength while sitting
- Wants to avoid compression of the internal organs of the abdominal area while seated
- Wants to maintain proper alignment of the spine
The Different Types of Kneeling Chairs
There are four main types of kneeling chairs currently available on the market – kneeling stools, balans chairs, executive & deluxe kneeling chairs.
In this section, we’ll take a look at the specific features of each type of kneeling chair.
Kneeling stools are the most basic type of kneeling chair.
They typically feature wooden frames, two pads, and four wheels (one on each corner of the base).
Kneeling stools are versatile and portable, making them the ideal choice for those seeking a kneeling chair for gardening, cleaning, and other everyday tasks that require kneeling.
There are four main types of balans chairs:
- Single-padded chairs: feature a seat cushion as well as a single cushion for the legs
- Double-padded chairs: consist of a seat cushion and two separate leg cushions
- Balans stools: are similar in design to kneeling stools with the addition of gas-assisted lifts
- Saddle kneeling chairs: feature contoured seats instead of standard flat seat cushions.
Executive & Deluxe kneeling chair
Executive kneeling chairs are specifically designed to offer support for extended periods of sitting.
They typically feature high-quality wood or steel frames and memory foam pads that are covered with leather.
Deluxe kneeling chairs are generally the most expensive type of kneeling chair.
They have extra features like lumbar support, knee pads, backrests, and height adjustment mechanisms.
Things to Look Out for When Choosing a Kneeling Chair
There are a number of things you’ll want to consider before putting down your hard earned cash to buy a kneeling chair.
Adjustable kneeling chairs allow you to change the height of the chair according to your height or the height of your work surface.
Purchasing an adjustable kneeling chair is a good idea if more than one person will be sitting on it or if you plan to use the chair for different tasks.
Research shows that kneeling chairs with an inclination of 20 degrees or greater are more effective in helping maintain proper posture.
When shopping for a kneeling chair, look for one that allows you to comfortably sit in an upright position.
Kneeling chairs are made from a variety of materials.
Kneeling chairs featuring metal frames are generally more durable than chairs made from wood.
Metal chairs also tend to be less expensive, which is an important consideration if your budget is limited.
Also important is the material used for the seat and leg cushions.
Cushions made from memory foam are the most comfortable, as they are designed to support users during long periods of sitting.
While not necessary for the proper functioning of a kneeling chair, casters add to the chair’s portability and versatility.
If you plan to use the kneeling chair on a carpeted surface, look for a model with dual-wheel casters. For added mobility, choose a model with a five-point wheeled base.
The comfort of a kneeling chair’s seat is determined by several factors, including its size, shape, and upholstery fabric.
Many people find that a saddle-shaped seat is more comfortable than a flat seat.
Likewise, leather upholstery is likely to be more comfortable than fabric, especially if you’ll be sitting in the chair for long periods of time.
When it comes to kneeling chairs, the old adage is true: you get what you pay for.
Inexpensive kneeling chairs are typically made using low-end components, while pricier models are made with higher quality materials.
The Best Ergonomic Kneeling Chairs Worth Trying
Below, we’ll review some of the best kneeling chairs on the market today.
We’ve based these selections on comfort, versatility, price, and overall customer satisfaction.
1. CINIUS Kneeling Chair
With its natural wood frame, and thick cushioning, it’s easy to see why the Cinius Kneeling Chair is one of the most popular kneeling chairs currently on the market.
It supports up to 200 pounds of weight and can be easily adjusted to different heights for working at a desk, reading, watching TV, or performing household chores.
It also has dual-wheeled casters for maximum portability.
Some users have complained that the knee rest doesn’t have enough adjustability.
Yet another frequent complaint is that the assembly instructions are difficult to follow.
Despite these minor drawbacks, the Cinius Kneeling Chair is a good choice for those who are trying out kneeling chairs for the first time but still want some kind of back support.
Pros: Made with durable material, back support, dual-wheeled casters
Cons: Lots of angle adjustability, some may find assembly instructions difficult to follow
2. Varier Variable Balans Kneeling Chair
What sets the Varier Variable Balans Original Kneeling Chair apart from the other kneeling chairs on our list is its curved base, which allows you to rock back and forth as they sit.
The chair also has two knee pads, which force the hips open and encourage you to engage your abdominal and lower back muscles when sitting for prolonged periods.
The Varier Variable Balans can support up to 240 pounds of weight and may be used with an optional backrest, which is sold separately.
With its natural ash wood base and elegant Scandinavian design, the Varier Variable Balans looks great in any professional eating, home office, or living room.
A minor drawback of this kneeling chair is that its height cannot be adjusted.
That said, the chair is designed to accommodate a range of user heights and body types.
As far as price goes, the Varier Variable Balans is one of the more expensive options on our list.
If you’re looking for a solidly constructed kneeling chair that will last you many years, however, the Varier Variable Balans is definitely worth considering.
Pros: Available in different colours, fabric made from recycled plastics, optional backrest, two-piece knee rest
Cons: Expensive, height cannot be adjusted
3. Sleekform Ergonomic Kneeling Chair
The SLEEKFORM Ergonomic Kneeling Chair features 4-inch thick cushions on the seat and knee rest areas, making it one of the most comfortable kneeling stools on the market today.
It also has a high range of height adjustability (from 21.7 to 28.5 inches) to suit different user or desk heights.
What really distinguishes this kneeling chair from others on our list, however, are its anti-locking rollerblade wheels, which allow the chair to glide easily over any type of flooring.
The SLEEKFORM Ergonomic Kneeling Chair’s cushions are constructed from 50 per cent memory foam and 50 per cent regular foam.
This makes the chair incredibly comfortable to sit in for extended periods of time.
That said, some users have reported that the cushions are too firm.
Fortunately, this kneeling chair comes with a 90-day money-back guarantee, which effectively allows users to try the stool out before committing to buying it.
Pros: Cushions made with 50 per cent memory foam, anti-lock rollerblade wheels, 90-day money-back guarantee, high range of height adjustability
Cons: Some may find the cushions too firm
4. DRAGONN Ergonomic Kneeling Chair
The DRAGONN Ergonomic Kneeling Chair is one of the sturdiest kneeling stools on the market.
It features a steel frame, 3-inch thick cushions, and four lockable casters to prevent unwanted rolling.
The chair is designed to support up to 250 pounds of weight.
The cushions are covered with a breathable mesh fabric to allow for maximum comfort while sitting for long periods of time.
The chair’s height can be raised from 21 to 28 inches to accommodate different user or work surface heights.
Its extra-thick cushions make the DRAGONN Ergonomic Kneeling Chair an excellent choice for those who suffer from knee or coccyx pain while sitting.
Some users have complained that the casters are too stiff, making the chair difficult to move over carpet.
Overall, though, this is a well-built chair that receives consistently high ratings from customers.
Pros: Can support up to 250 lbs of weight, angled seat for improved ergonomics, lockable casters, breathable mesh cushion
Cons: Expensive, casters don’t roll smoothly
5. Sleekform Ergonomic Balancing Kneeling Chair
The SLEEKFORM Ergonomic Balancing Kneeling Chair is similar in design to the Varier Variable Balans.
It features a rocking chair style base and two knee pads that open up the hips and encourage a more upright posture.
What distinguishes this chair from its competitor are its thicker knee and seat cushions, which add to the chair’s comfort, and its 3 wood cross timbers, which add to the chair’s durability.
The SLEEKFORM Ergonomic Balancing Kneeling Chair is designed to support up to 265 pounds of weight.
What we love most about the SLEEKFORM Ergonomic Balancing Chair is its versatility; the chair works well as an office chair, a gaming chair, a crafting chair, an orthopaedic chair, or even a meditation chair.
Some may find the assembly of this chair challenging, however, and the chair has a tendency to scratch wood flooring.
If you don’t mind the time it takes to put this chair together and plan to use the chair on carpeted flooring or on top of a rug, though, the SLEEKFORM Ergonomic Balancing Kneeling chair is a fine choice.
Pros: Dual knee pad design, rocking base, 90-day money-back guarantee
Cons: Some may find assembly instructions difficult to follow, may scratch wood flooring
The Best Kneeling Chair Recommendation
While each of the kneeling chairs on our list has its advantages and disadvantages, the DRAGONN Ergonomic Kneeling Chair strikes the right balance between affordability, comfort, adjustability, and comfort.
Its sleek, sturdy design makes this chair a great addition to any home office, living room, or crafting workspace, while its locking casters add to the chair’s stability and ensure the chair only moves when you want it to.
While its high price tag may be a deterrent for some, this is one of the best performing kneeling chairs on the market today.
Other Factors to Consider Before Buying a Kneeling Chair
Kneeling chairs offer many benefits, but they aren’t the right choice for everyone.
Below are some of the disadvantages of using kneeling chairs instead of traditional office chairs.
When first using a kneeling chair, you may experience soreness in the shoulders, arms abdominal area, and back.
This soreness is usually temporary, however, and decreases as you adjust to the new posture.
Height and weight limitations
While most kneeling chairs can be adjusted, they are not ideal for people who are over 6 feet 2 inches tall or weigh more than 250 pounds.
Sitting on a kneeling chair forces you to bear more weight on your legs in order to prevent the upper body from slouching forward.
For some individuals, this can result in muscle fatigue.
Kneeling chairs force your legs to remain in one position. This increases pressure on the knees and legs, which can impede proper blood flow.
May require workstation adjustments
Using a kneeling chair may require you to adjust the height of your desk, workstation, or computer monitor to accommodate your new sitting position.
May encourage forward leaning
The lack of a backrest may cause some individuals to lean forward on their work surface instead of sitting upright.
This forward-leaning posture adds to the pressure the elbows and wrists and may lead to injury.
Tips for Using Your New Kneeling Chair
To get the best results from your kneeling chair you’ll also want to make sure you are using it properly.
Make sure the chair is properly fitted to your height and body type.
A chair that is too small for you will not only cause discomfort but will also be more difficult to get into and out of.
An improperly fitted chair may also force you to over-flex your ankles and knees to maintain your sitting position.
Vary your sitting position throughout the day.
Sitting in one position can increase the static load on your muscles which, in turn, may result in muscle fatigue.
Do not sit in a kneeling chair for extended periods of time. Take frequent breaks to walk around and stretch your legs.
If your job requires you to sit for long periods of time, you may benefit from using a kneeling chair as opposed to a traditional office chair.
While there are many different types of kneeling chairs and stools on the market, the models we’ve reviewed are generally considered to be the most effective in maintaining proper alignment of the spine and reducing lower back discomfort.
Armed with the information contained in this guide, you should feel more confident in selecting the best kneeling chair for your needs, budget, and lifestyle.
Is a Kneeling Chair Going to Fix Your Posture for Good?
Whilst kneeling chairs are a great way to deal with posture issues, it is our opinion that they are unlikely to be the solution or the ultimate fix to all your posture problems.
If you suffer from rounded shoulders, forward head posture or upper cross syndrome, the best way to deal with these issues is usually a two-step process.
The first is to stop putting your body in a compromised posture, and the second is to undergo corrective exercises and stretches to fix any muscle imbalances.
Getting a kneeling chair solves the first issue, but you still need to start correcting any muscle imbalances or weaknesses in your body.
This is why we tend to feel that kneeling chairs are more of a preventative measure for bad posture rather than a fix.
That being said, equipment like standing desks, kneeling chairs, stability ball chairs and other posture equipment are still helpful, but to see long lasting permanent results you’ll want to fix any muscle imbalances as well.