We’ve been noticing that there have been a lot more eyes on our blog lately, so if you’re new to our Sleekform community- welcome! We’ve decided to spend the month of August going back to basics to make sure all our new posture conscious friends are up to date on what’s good in the world of ergonomics.
So, what better way to start than at the very, VERY beginning.
Let’s talk about what a kneeling chair even is...
Now, for our more advanced posture peeps, this may seem like a #basic subject. You might be thinking “obviously I know what a kneeling chair is- you just have to look at one to know”... but do you REALLY know what makes a kneeling chair?
There’s a number of specific qualities that make a good kneeling chair. It’s very easy to find a cheap version that might look like a kneeling chair to the naked eye but once you spend some time in it you may find that you’re less than impressed with your bargain find.
There are a few things you should always take into account when shopping for a kneeling chair- if you want to make sure you’re getting a real kneeling chair that will help you make the adjustments you’re likely hoping for if you’ve found yourself typing “kneeling chair” into the google search bar.
The key factors you need to take into account when hunting for a good kneeling chair are:
- Seat/ knee pad angle
- Distance between seat and knee pad
- Rocking/ Balancing ability (if you’re going for this style)
Let’s dig into the kneeling chair nitty-gritty so you know exactly what you’re looking for.
Angle Of Mine.
This is arguably the most important aspect of the kneeling chair. The whole reason the kneeling chair was created in the first place was to give you a different option for sitting- to give you the ability to open up your hips and adjust your posture from the lumbar spine up instead of from the shoulders down.
A quick explanation of the logic behind this notion: When we tilt our pelvis’ forward and open our hips up from the front body we are allowing the lumbar (lower) spine to curve in an effortless, natural way, and eliminating that gnarly C-shape that we often find ourselves in when we sit in a regular chair.
When we sit in a regular chair our instinct is to pull our shoulders back and when we do this our spines often go rigid and we either tense up and put our shoulders scrunched up close to our ears or we find it difficult to maintain and quickly slip back into that dreaded C-shaped posture. The kneeling chair accomplishes this by eliminating the backrest and tilting the seat forward. This immediately straightens your back from the lower base of the spine right up to the top of your neck and places your head in an optimal position to maintain this posture for hours on end.
Some “kneeling chairs” trick you by putting kneeling pads on the front of a stool and tell you it’s good for your posture but if the seat isn’t angled it will eliminate the whole purpose of the kneeling chair and you will likely find yourself starting to crave the backrest of your old chair. When the seat is angled and your hips are tilted forward this takes all the pressure of your spine by engaging your core and giving your thighs a fair amount of weight as well.
It’s imperative that the seat of the kneeling chair you’re considering buying is between 120° and 130° as opposed to the typical flat 90° of a regular chair. Write that down. Tattoo it on your head… or put it on a post-it note… whatever, just don’t forget it! If the chair you buy has a flat seat you’re going to disappointed.
Go The Distance.
The size of your chair should be relative to the size of your body- which although makes loads of logical sense, it’s rarely put into practice. I like to imagine how the world would be if we had the same logic applied to our pants. If everyone- men, women, children- all just accepted pants as one size fits all and never questioned it. Of course, you’d be able to get pants for every occasion, in every different style and color. You could get lounge pants, dinner pants, work pants, bus, and car pants- but they would all only come in one size.
That is…. stupid. It’s fun to imagine, but it’s stupid.
Big men wearing tiny pants and tiny women wearing big pants. We would never accept that. We want custom-sized pants- ones that make us feel comfortable and confident and allows us to get what needs to be done, done! So, why don’t we bring this perfect pants logic into our chair logic? Especially if this chair is specifically for our use only? It sits at our desk, and we use it 8-10 hours a day, every day!
Now, it’s true- chairs are a bit more one size fits all than pants. Our non-adjustable chairs have enough wiggle room for people 5’2”-6”2” but this is not everyone. If you are slightly taller or slightly shorter we don’t recommend getting one of our non-adjustable chairs- luckily we’ve got kneeling chairs that adjust both height and seat angle. It’s important to take the time to play around and try out different angles. Each of our bodies has different needs and requirements. We all have our own history- past injuries and sore spots- so just because one setting works for me doesn’t mean it’s the best setting for you.
If you are just looking for a good way to improve your day-to-day posture and are of “average” height our non-adjustable balance chairs will probably work perfect for you, but if you are of above or below after height or have significant back/neck/sciatica issues we encourage you to try our adjustable models.
Rock Me Gently.
We LOVE the fact that our Austin and Amsterdam models rock. The rocking motion keeps your core engaged, helps to stretch out your lower back and is proven to help keep the mind quiet and focused throughout the day. It’s a key player in making this style of kneeling chair effective. Sure, you can’t customize the height and angles, but you get to add motion to your workday. One thing to look out for when shopping for a kneeling chair in this specific style is that it really does rock. Some cheaper models may appear to rock, but the bottoms are actually made flat and don’t allow you the freedom to move.
For example- although Lisa Simpson had the right idea and was an early adapter of the kneeling chair, as you can tell…. She can’t rock!
Although Lisa isn’t TECHNICALLY a real person, this type of chair is definitely floating around the market and should be avoided, if you want the full balance kneeling chair experience… and trust us… you do.
These three components are what really make a kneeling chair a kneeeeeling chair. There is so much more to it than it just being a weird looking piece of furniture that your mom’s cool friend Joan uses when she sits at her pottery wheel. Years of design alterations and studies of the effects it has on the body have gotten us where we are today. It’s still not perfect (no chair is) but it’s obvious that it’s a great choice if you’re looking for an alternative way to sit and work.
It hasn’t caught on enough to be considered mainstream (yet...we’re going to change that) and there are still a few misconceptions people have about the kneeling chair.
I think the biggest one being that there’s a ton of weight being put on your knees and shins when you sit in the chair. It’s difficult to explain this without having you actually sit in the chair, but I’ll try my best. When you look at a photo of the chair being used, like this:
It looks like the model is really using their legs to support themselves, but the truth of the matter is that the majority of the weight is still very much in the glutes. The knee pads are really there for stability. If the chair was slanted the way that it is and didn’t have the knee pads you’d end up just slipping out it over time. They are more like stoppers than weight bearers. They also allow you to easily get some forward momentum to rock with.
Another thing people often assume about these chairs is that they won’t be able to use it full time and replace their current desk chair because they lack backrests. They worry that their backs will get tired and they won’t be able to sustain using it for a full day. That is not at all true- these chairs are designed for full-time use. As I mentioned above, the obtuse angle of the seat places you into a natural, easy posture that engages your front body and takes the pressure off your back. The main reason we rely so heavily on backrests when we sit in our regular right angle chairs is that it’s so difficult to engage our core in this posture.
The kneeling chair is a surprisingly complex design that makes sitting stiffness free, easy. It’s tough to really understand what the kneeling chair is and how it works until you try it, so you’ll have to take my word for it until you can get yourself one.
Have you ever sat in a kneeling chair before? Did testing it eliminate any misconceptions that you had about it before you tried it? Let us know your impressions! Drop us a comment below or as always send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org