What To Look For When Buying A Kneeling Chair
Because we know it's not always obvious.
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 a little bit of time sitting 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 quality kneeling chair that will help make the adjustments you’re hoping for (since you’ve clearly typed “kneeling chair” into the google search bar, I'm going to assume you are looking to make adjustments to how you sit) you first need to know what actually makes a kneeling chair ergonomic.
The key factors you need to take into account when hunting for a good kneeling chair are:
- The angle of the seat and knee pads
- The distance between seat and knee pad
- Rocking/ Balancing ability (if you’re going for this style)
Seat Angle is Everything.
The angle of both the seat and knee cushions are most important feature to assess when shopping for a kneeling chair.
The whole reason the kneeling chair was created in the first place was to give you a different option for sitting and give you the ability to open up your hips and adjust your posture from the lumbar spine up instead of from the shoulders down.
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 when trying to improve our posture is to pull our shoulders back. When we do this our spines often go rigid and we either tense up and scrunch our shoulders 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 works in the opposite direction. Instead of lifting our shoulders up, its titled seat pushes our hips forward. 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 knock off kneeling chairs trick you by putting kneeling pads on the front of a flat stool seat and tell you it’s good for your posture. 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 at angled and your hips are tilted forward this takes all the pressure of your spine by opening your hips, engaging your core and keeping your weight centered.
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.
Make Room For Leg Room.
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.
How would the world would be if we put the same logic we had about chairs and applied to our pants. What would it be like if everyone- men, women, children- all different heights and weight 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.
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!
Chairs are of course slightly 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 kneeling 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.
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.
Still not sure what kneeling chair is right for you? Check out our 2022 Kneeling Chair Buying Guide.
Ready to buy? Shop our entire kneeling chair collection here.