Traditional office chairs reflect the time of the past. Office chairs are usually swivel chairs composed of wheels for mobility and an adjustable height. Since then, desk chairs are synonymous to office workers. Many experts have noted an increase in non-accidental injury due to poor body mechanics, repetitive motions and prolonged activities brought by traditional chairs. Unfortunately, employers are forgetting one little detail that could affect a worker’s performance: chairs. It may not seem like a lot but traditional office chairs are one of the reasons why many workers have issues with their health. The good news is experts are coming up with alternatives to ensure that office workers are as comfortable as possible.
During the 1970s, ergonomics became an important consideration in the design of office chairs. Most office chairs have armrests, adjustable seats and back support among others. However, there is one type of chair that is making its way into the office world today: kneeling chairs. Compared to the traditional office chair, the kneeling chair is a type of chair wherein your body is in a half-kneeling position while your buttocks and the front of your knees or shins support your weight. It has no backrest, which encourages your spine to straighten. In other words, you are in a modified kneeling position. In a traditional chair, your thighs are 90 degrees to your torso. In a kneeling chair, your knees and torso are about 135 degrees, which aligns your spine in a more upright position and causes you to sit straight naturally. Since the weight is distributed between your pelvis and knees, there will be a reduction in spinal compression.
Benefits of Kneeling Chairs
It may be hard to picture how an ergonomic kneeling chair could do a lot for your body, especially your back. Here are some benefits.
One of the common complaints among workers is back pain. To address this issue, the knee chair was introduced in 1979 to help reduce lower back strain. Since then, many users resort to kneeling chairs to improve their back condition. A kneeling chair’s seat angle forces you to sit down with a straight spinal column. The decline of the seat offers more room for your hips, which is directly connected to your lower back muscles. In fact, a 2008 study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information confirms that ergonomically designed kneeling chairs work better in maintaining lumbar curvature compared to sitting in a standard computer chair.
Poor posture can be developed from environments that do not offer support proper spinal alignment. Unfortunately, the traditional office chairs are notorious for that. Since there is no ample support on the seat, sitting on an office chair for prolonged periods could lead to back pain, thereby worsen your already poor posture. The good news is the kneeling chair’s forward sloping seat provides angles between your thighs and trunk. This means minimal pressure on the discs and proper spinal alignment, which helps you straighten your back and eventually improve your posture.
When your spine is properly aligned and your posture has improved, the workload and body weight will be distributed evenly on your musculo-skeletal system. This also means kneeling chairs help reduce compressive forces and pains in your muscles, tendons and joints.
Don’t be fooled. Your knees don’t bear your weight while sitting on a kneeling chair. In fact, your shins provide a second point of contact wherein your weight is evenly distributed on your spine, thighs and shins. This is to ensure that the compressive forces that lead to pain won’t target the spine alone, or any other contact points. As a result, it offers comfortable seating without compromising your posture and spinal alignment.
Are you working on your abs? If you don’t have much time to do crunches and planking, sitting on a kneeling chair could increase your abdominals and back’s muscle strength. Your core muscles engaged subtly since there is no backrest to rely on. Talk about hitting two birds with one stone, don’t you think?
Internal Health Benefits
Did you know that aside from correcting your spine’s alignment and improving your posture, sitting on a kneeling chair could also improve your breathing, digestion and circulation? Once you sit on the kneeling chair, your pelvis is tilted, shoulders repositioned and chest are pulled up and out. This leads to an increase in lung capacity and blood circulation. Your heart will experience less pressure as well.
One of the reasons why employees are distracted at work is because of physical pain. Keep in mind that your body can only stay in one position for a maximum of 20 minutes. Holding the same position more than 20 minutes reduces your body tissues’ elasticity. This leads to stress buildup, bad work posture, discomfort and other musculo-skeletal disorders. When you use kneeling chair, your spinal column is in a better position, thereby improving proper blood flow in your body. This fosters healthy posture, reduces pain, encourages concentration and makes you feel better and think clearer. This will reflect in your work output too.
Traditional office chairs are easy to use. However, kneeling chairs are easier. You can easily maneuver it around the office and allows you to position yourself closer to the desk since there are no armrests. The chairs are designed so that you can easily reach into drawers, across your work space, and conveniently move away or close to your workspace if you are on the go for most of your day.
How to Buy a Kneeling Chair
- Rollers –rollers allow you to move around from front to back, side by side easily. This helps relieve pressure on your knees and shins.
- Frame – this should be an adjustable one. Kneeling chairs with adjustable frames allow you customize the fit of the chair according to your height. Otherwise, you won’t enjoy its many benefits.
- Kneepads–it should be made of high density or memory foam with a sturdy covering material.
- Price – don’t compromise the benefits of the kneeling chair by going for products that are inferior in terms of quality.
Given these benefits, aren’t you ready to make the switch?