What Is A Kneeling Chair And Why Is It A Healthy Way Of Sitting?


I've created the short video below which takes a look at what a kneeling chair is and why it makes a great alternative way of sitting.

What is a kneeling chair?
Quite simply a kneeling chair involves a different way of sitting.

The name is a little misleading because although it looks like you are using your knees to support your body, this isn’t the case. In reality it’s your shins that rest on the pads. And depending on the type of kneeling chair and the way you are sitting your weight distribution typically would be 60% on your bottom with 40% on your shins.

So why does this make sense?

Why is it a better way to sit?
In a kneeling chair your body is able to adopt a much healthier way of sitting. This is because your whole body is in an open posture allowing much better circulation, muscle use and weight distribution.

It also places your back in a natural healthy position too. Are there any drawbacks with kneeling chairs?

Are there any problems with kneeling chairs?
When people first make the change from a standard office chair to a knee chair they often find it challenging to begin with. This is due to years of sitting in normal chairs which leaves your core muscles underused and flabby.

As a result it’s often necessary to build up these muscles again. So, you may well find to start with you can only sit in a kneeling chair for short periods. It’s for this reason I recommend you keep your old chair to begin with and switch between the two while you get used to this new way of sitting.

One other thing you need to avoid is being tempted to buy cheap replica versions of classic chairs like this Variable Balans. They may look the same, however the reality is they are vastly inferior and have serious quality problems. Here’s where you can read a Blog post about this problem.

So let’s summarize

  • A kneeling chair is just an alternative way of sitting where you use your bottom and shins to support your body.
  • A kneeling chair is a healthier way of sitting because it opens up your body allowing better blood circulation and muscle use.
  • To begin with it's a good idea to alternate between your old chair and a kneeling chair

Further information
For more information about kneeling chairs and which one is right for you, be sure to visit http://www.officechairadvice.com/kneelingchairs


Are You Sitting Healthily In Your Office Chair? Why Right Angled Sitting Is Harmful

It seems that sitting all day in an office chair is slowly killing us all off if we are to believe recent reports and research into sitting.

According to professor Galen Krantz author of the book “The Chair: Rethinking Culture, Body, and Design” it's not that sitting is a bad thing rather it's the way we do it that causes all the problems.

There is an excellent interview with professor Krantz at the Body Conscious Design website called Beyond The Chair in which she explains what is wrong with the way we sit and how simple changes can help to improve things.

How you sit is important
Krantz draws attention to the perils of right angled sitting, where the body is placed at a harmful 90° angle for hours on end. She highlights the problems this creates:

  • It places your spine in an unhealthy C shape
  • Your chest caves inwards
  • Your pelvis gets crunched up
  • The lower back collapses
  • Your neck gets thrust forwards

All these debilitating postures end up giving us aches and pains due to the unnatural positions we get forced into. So how can we help improve things?

Setting up your work space properly
Simply getting your work area and how you address it sorted can make a big difference according to Krantz. And a lot of it is common sense too.

For example if you use the phone a lot then get yourself a headset. Without it the temptation to wedge the phone between shoulder and ear places enormous strain on your neck.

Adjust your screen so that the center is about 7 to 10 inches below your horizontal line of sight. And look away and focus on distant objects occasionally to keep your eyes healthy.

Set your office chair up so that your knees are below your hips. An angle of about 100° is good as it keeps your back's lumbar curve healthy.

Reposition your mouse and consider getting a vertically operated mouse if you suffer wrist and arm pain.

Switch between different types of chair, say an office chair and a kneeling chair or a ball chair. I alternate between a task chair and a knee chair and it's definitely beneficial. If you are on a tight budget a ball chair is going to be the more affordable option.

Do simple exercises when muscle start to tire. It will keep them toned and prevent them becoming chronically fatigued.

Finally takes frequent strolls even if it's just around the office or home.

The key to most of these suggestions is movement. Your body hates being fixed in one position for too long and this is why 90° sitting is so harmful.

If it's such a good idea why aren't furniture manufacturers making suitable products?
Krantz believes that the furniture industry is aware of what's needed. However she points out that the real problem lies in persuading customers to make the change and that's not easy.

And she is not afraid to argue against products she believes aren't good. She is a big opponent of the Aeron chair pointing out that the lumbar support was only put in because it's what people expect in a good chair. So what does she believe is needed?

Movement and variation of posture is key
Krantz is a big fan of variable height work surfaces. Particularly the ability to perch when sitting as it opens up the body allowing much healthier posture.

In terms of chairs, she likes the rocking action of the Balans chair and also HÅG's Capisco for its perching qualities and the Varier Gravity for lounging while computing. She also gives good advice for sitting in the home as well.

What you do at home matters too
Perching on a stool is good for back strength and she advises keeping the feet firmly on the floor. Work surface height is important and having it set just below elbow level keeps your wrists straight when chopping food for example.

In terms of altering posture Krantz recommends lying down on a hard flat surface with knees pointing upwards and breathing deeply for 15 minutes each day. This acts to relieve lower back pain and muscle fatigue.

Sitting cross legged on the floor is another beneficial posture and using a sloping cushion like the Zafu is handy as it conforms with your body angle.

Putting it all together
Let's look at the key points Galen Krantz recommends for healthy sitting and working:

  • Sitting isn't necessarily bad, it's how we do it that matters
  • Sitting at a closed 90° angle is bad for the body
  • Setting up your work area is important for a healthy posture
  • Doing simple exercises helps keep muscles toned
  • Taking walks around the office is good
  • Alternating working at different heights keeps the body active
  • Developing healthy habits at home is important too.

Further reading
Here's where you can find the Beyond The Chair interview with Galen Krantz. It's presented in a colorful PDF format with lots of useful illustrations highlighting the points in the article.


Variable Balans Kneeling Chair Versus The Yoga Chair: Why Looks Can Be Deceptive

The Victorinox Swiss Army Knife is often copied and yet try as they may its imitators can’t even come close to replicating the quality of its stainless steel blade, which keeps its edge for years. Sure, it looks the same until you come to use it. As you will see in this article looks and function are two very different things.

What is the Variable Balans kneeling chair?

Variable Balans Kneeling Chair

The Variable Balans has a pedigree as long as your arm. It’s the original commercially produced wood knee chair. Designed by Peter Opsvik and launched in the late 1970s by Stokke and subsequently Varier. Its basic model is still produced to the same design and has sold in tens of thousands over the past 30+ years.

Its iconic design has been voted one of the 50 designs that changed the world by Germany’s H.O.M.E. Magazine.

What is the Yoga Chair?


Yoga Chair

The recently introduced Yoga chair is basically a carbon copy of the Variable Balans and initially at a quick glance looks identical to the real thing. It’s highly competitively priced and sells for just $99, a quarter of the cost of the Variable Balans.

Not surprisingly this generates a lot of interest because people feel they are getting a top design kneeling seat for a fraction of the cost. On closer inspection though, many of the similarities are skin deep.

What are the differences between the Variable Balans Chair and the Yoga Chair?
To start with, the most noticeable difference between the two is when you sit in them. The whole idea of the design of the Variable Balans is its ability to rock as you move on it. To achieve this the frame is made from top quality laminated Beech plywood. Its natural springiness creates the perfect tension in the frame to make moving and rocking easy and natural

By contrast the Yoga chair whilst also made of laminated wood is constructed from an inferior wood, which is brittle and feels dead and makes rocking and movement difficult.

The frame on the Balans is beautifully polished and lacquered to a very high standard. Unfortunately, the Yoga frame is poorly finished with lacquer runs and even areas with no finish at all.

Fabric and foams are high quality on the Variable Balans and neatly finished off, whereas the Yoga upholstery is poorly applied with details on corners that are frankly amateurish.

The Variable Balans is also available with a backrest, however there is no backrest option with the Yoga chair.

Finally, there is the acid test, what warranties do the products carry? The Variable Balans has a 7 year warranty however the Yoga chair has just 1 year.
This is very telling. Why? I call it the acid test because when you boil everything down it expresses the manufacturer’s confidence in its product.

On the one hand Varier is happy and confident to guarantee its seat for 7 years because they know the chances of returns will be slim to none. It has thousands of users with kneeling chairs they bought 20 or more years ago and still going strong.

With only 1 year’s warranty on a Yoga chair this is a big alarm bell, because it expresses little confidence in its quality by the supplier. Of course you may disagree with my warranty argument, so let’s look at what users of the 2 products have to say about them.

What do buyers of the Yoga chair say about it?
Buyers have left some pretty damning feedback on the quality of the chair and although there are some positive comments these are outweighed by the negative ones, here’s a selection.

  • “I had high hopes for this chair. Unfortunately, when something seems to good to be true, it probably is. First of all, the price point is great – but not for the quality… I should have known that you can't actually purchase a decently made wood product for $99. The chair was difficult to assemble, not because of design, but because of manufacture – none of the holes lined up and the materials were very poor. For the first few days I sat in the chair for a few hours, but soon after I realized that this is NOT an authentic kneeling chair, just a plain old poorly made copy. SAVE YOUR MONEY FOR THE REAL THING. ”
  • “Unfortunately the price of 99 is much too high for this product. I don't understand why the producer of this product did not spend another 10 bucks for two addition bracers below the seat and below the leg pads. Really simple. The current product has probably a value of 20$ so there would still be enough profit. Don^t buy this product if you are looking for reasonable quality. I bought some bracers in Home Depot to make the chair work and not fall apart.”
  • “I bought one of these chairs and it has been a disaster since I assembled it. The screws won't stay in place and the chair is falling apart. It's comfortable–I love the concept, but this model is a hunk of junk. I plan to fork out the money for one of the Norwegian built chairs. I had one of those for over 20 years and I wore out the upholstery. The frame was as solid as ever.”

And when you bear in mind many people will be commenting on their initial impressions before using it extensively, they don’t exactly inspire confidence do they?

What do buyers of the Variable Balans say about it?
Here are 3 comments from recent online buyers of the seat.

  • “After I first was not sure about kneeling position, I was shown that changing position is key and that kneeling is just one of many positions. I bought this chair with backrest and I'm now a fan and NOTHING would make me use an ordinary chair ever again!! I LOVE it and will be doing a piece in the womens magazine that I am working for singing its praises.”
  • “I purchased my Stokke's chair in 1986 while stationed in Germany. I just got it back from the upholstery shop. This 25 year old chair is still going strong with absolutely nothing wrong with it and this was the first time I've had to have it upholstered. I've found it to be the perfect chair to spend long hours at my computer while playing games without aches or pains. If you need to sit for hours give it a try and see if you don't agree.”
  • “I have tried a bunch of kneeling chairs and decided to purchase this one. I ordered sample colors and chose the Ferrari Red. It was easy to put together and arrived just a few days after I ordered. I'm about 5'8″ and I wasn't really sure about the size but this worked out great. My roommate is a little over 6′ and now we have to keep it at our living room desk because he keeps taking it out of my room.Overall I'm really happy with my purchase and would recommend this chair.”

25 Year Old Balans Knee Chair

And here’s a comment Varier received from a buyer who bought his Variable Balans in 1986 and still uses it daily.

“I purchased this in ’86! Use it all of the time, very comfortable, can spend hours working with no fatigue. Still has the same covers”

He even sent a picture of it, and it still looks great doesn't it?

Overall verdict
There is a reason for the huge price variation between these 2 products, which can be summed up in a single word. Quality.

Whilst a Yoga chair may be OK for very occasional use, if you plan to make frequent use of your kneeling chair go for the Swiss Army Knife version the Variable Balans. There’s no denying it’s not cheap, nonetheless when you consider it will easily last 20 years or more it represents a sound investment.


Changes to the Varier Wing™ Balans® Kneeling Chair Mean Less Choice In The Future

wing balans knee chair

Varier Wing™ Balans® Kneeling Chair

Varier’s Wing™ Balans® chair is considered by many to be the most comfortable kneeling chair available today. Its special features make for a different sitting experience compared to other knee chairs.

First, when you sit on it you’ll notice it doesn’t feel harsh and instead yields softly so it doesn’t jar your body. This is due to a novel rubber flexor connection between seat and gas lift. The result is a comforting damper effect, rather than a hard landing.

Second the knee pads are adjustable, so you can set it up for your exact needs and comfort.


What is changing with the Wing™ Balans®?
Previously the chair was only offered with a wooden base and this came in natural, black or dark brown lacquer finish. Varier has now introduced a plastic base as well.

Why has the new base been introduced?
The addition of a plastic base was made primarily due to cost. And there is no doubt this has made a substantial difference to the price of the Wing™ Balans® as it cost $200 less if you choose to go with the plastic base.

What will happen in the future?
Although you have the choice of selecting either the wood base options or plastic at present, Varier plans to stop production of the wood bases. And so it’s likely they won’t be around for much longer. Even though the wooden bases are much better looking they do add an additional 36% to the cost of the chair. So you can understand Varier’s thinking on this.

I feel it’s a shame that the ability to opt for a wooden base won’t last much longer. And in fact the dark brown base is already on back order. So, if you are thinking of buying a Wing™ Balans® and like the wood base it’s probably best to do so sooner rather than later.

For more on the Wing™ Balans®
Here's where you will find a review of this excellent kneeling chair and this online seating specialist currently offers all versions of the Wing™ chair.


Why Baby Boomers Need a Good Office Chair More Than the Younger Generation

When I reached my 50th birthday, a good friend of mine let me in on a secret. Here’s what he told me:

“When you reach 50 and wake up in the morning and nothing is hurting, you’re dead.”

I can tell you he was right.

It’s true for baby boomers too because we’re just not getting any younger, in fact it’s estimated that 7900 people a day in the US turn 60. Our bodies have spent too many years in the same posture, probably a poor one at that. So, it makes good sense to start taking care of things a bit better.

Office chairs have improved in quality enormously in the past 20 years. Nonetheless, some will have spent a good number of years before this sitting in a lot of pretty awful chairs and many still do so by buying $100 desk chairs which continue to quietly inflict pain and suffering.

All of this adds up to wear and tear on our bodies and so we start to develop aches and pains, back issues, neck and shoulder pain, wrist and lower arm troubles—maybe nothing major yet; however, they are all warning signs.

Much like a car, if you don’t keep it serviced, it will develop all kinds of problems. So too will you. As the years go by, the more important this becomes.

The Right Tool for the Job

If you still spend a good part of the day sitting at your computer at work, it’s more important than ever that you give your body the best possible support and comfort.

A good, well-designed office chair with the right functions makes comfortable working all day possible. Here’s where you will find a quick summary of suitable chairs to investigate, and you may even want to be more adventurous and consider a kneeling chair. Many people swear by them as a great alternative to a conventional seat.

Look after your body it’s the only one you’ve got.


How a Kneeling Chair Helps Promote a Healthy Back Posture

Kneeling chairs offer a healthy alternative way of sitting compared to conventional office chairs, which can often leave users feeling tired and suffering from back and leg pain. This isn’t altogether surprising, as humans weren’t really designed to sit, certainly not in the same rigid position for hours at a time.

So what exactly makes a kneeling chair different?

The main advantage of this type of seat is it places your body in a much more open posture. It opens up the area between your thighs and upper body so your muscles and internal organs don’t get cramped as they can in an office chair.

Most of your weight is actually carried on your shins. Whilst your bottom supports some of your weight as well, it carries far less than a normal chair and consequently removes thigh and upper-leg pain.

Sitting in this way helps build core muscle strength. When you sit in a kneeling chair, you use the core muscles located in the lower back and front due to the way you are sitting. This is a good thing because the more you sit in this way, the stronger these muscles become.

Unfortunately, a conventional chair tends to leave these muscles largely unsupported, and over time they lose their tone and become flabby, often increasing back pain and general discomfort as a result.

Knee sitting encourages movement and variation in posture while you are sitting and this is beneficial because when you spend time in a kneeling chair, it becomes very easy to adopt different sitting postures which help to keep the body toned.

This is a good thing because bodies aren’t designed to be static, and pain is nature’s way of telling us it’s time to move. The most obvious way to use a kneeling chair is with both shins on the lower pad.

And yet, it’s really quick and easy to vary your position by placing one foot on the floor and leave one shin on the pad. It’s also very simple to get in and out of the chair, you literally walk in and out of it.

Here are some of the different ways of sitting in a kneeling chair as well as seeing whether a kneeling chair is right for you and the benefits it can bring you.


Replace The Office Chair Turkey – Day 6 Varier Furniture

In this final post in the replace the office chair turkey I'm taking a look at alternative types of office seats.

Some people find conventional office chairs just don't work for them and this is where some of the alternative seating from Varier is well worth looking into.

It makes a comprehensive range of kneeling chairs, including the original commercial model the Variable Balans, from which it has developed a number of exciting new models.

Somewhat esoteric in design these seats work well in both the office and around the home and because of their lightweight portability they are extremely flexible in use.

To find out more about these alternative chairs here are links to reviews of the most popular models.

Hopefully you have found this series enlightening on the idea of giving a loved one a quality office chair this Thanksgiving or have them buy one for you. It is a gift which will be remembered for many years as the office chair turkey becomes a distant memory.

Links to earlier articles in this series
Gobble Up The Office Chair Turkey This Thanksgiving
Replace The Office Chair Turkey – Day 1 HÅG Seating
Replace The Office Chair Turkey – Day 2 Steelcase
Replace The Office Chair Turkey – Day 3 Herman Miller
Replace The Office Chair Turkey – Day 4 Neutral Posture
Replace The Office Chair Turkey – Day 5 Humanscale


Struggling With Pain In An Office Chair? A Kneeling Chair May Well Work

Kneeling chairs are becoming more and more popular these days as an alternative type of seat to a traditional office chair, particularly for people who find they can’t reach long lasting comfort with their existing task chair.

While it's easy to sit in a kneeling chair new users need to be aware it can take a little time to build up strength in your back's core muscles until you will be able sit in one for extended periods.

This is because they don't always have back supports meaning that your abdominal muscles do need to be actively used. However, this is a good thing as it will keep your body's muscular support structure in good shape.

Some models like those from Kneelsit and Jobri do come with a backrest or the option to fit one and so make it a little easier to sit for longer periods.

To begin with it’s probably best to switch between your old and new chair so you gradually become used to it this may take 3 or 4 weeks.

One of the main advantages of a kneeling chair is it let's you sit in an open position where the angle between thighs and torso is more healthy. This promotes good circulation and helps you breathe more freely and deeply as well as keeping the mind alert and concentration and productivity levels up.

Another benefit is the different ways you can sit in this type of chair, ease of movement and variation is another health plus because regular changes of posture while working will help keep the body supple and muscles moving and active.

There is a wide choice of kneeling chairs available these days, and the original Balans introduced in the 1970s is still going strong and is now called the Variable Balans, HÅG also markets its version the HÅG Balans built around a swivel base with gas lift height adjustment, both are excellent chairs.

Here are some informative articles explaining the benefits of kneeling chairs as well as how to get comfortable in one and if a knee seat is the right choice for you.


Kneelsit Revises Prices For North American Market

Kneelsit the Australian kneeling seat specialist has revised prices for its highly versatile kneeling chair and there is some good news as well as bad news.

The good news is it has reduced the cost of its top of the range leather model by $150 to $649, the not so good news is it has had to increase the fabric model price by $50 to $549 due to increased production and shipping costs.

These chairs are extremely well made carrying a 15 year warranty and it's fair to say one of these kneeling chairs whilst by no means cheap will probably last you a lifetime.


Variable Balans Kneeling Chair Now Comes In A Backrest Version

Varier has decided to upgrade its Variable Balans Kneeling Chair backrest option into a standard model instead of an add on component as before.

The main good news of this change is the cost of the backrest component has been reduced by 40% and so will make this version more affordable and attractive for those who like the idea of including a backrest on their kneeling chair.

Here's where you will find a full review of the Variable Balans range detailing the available options.

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