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


Branded Office Chairs Part 7: Varier Top 3 – Variable, Wing and Thatsit

In this week's post on branded chairs we're taking a look at an alternative type of chair, the kneeling chair. Over the past 33 years Varier (and Stokke before it) has pioneered the concept of the kneeling chair.

It has worked closely with seating designer Peter Opsvik to produce a range of excellent chairs which challenge the normally accepted views on what makes a good office seat.

It all goes back to 1979 with the introduction of Opsvik's Variable Balans knee chair. So let's begin by looking at it now.

Variable Balans
This was the chair that started the kneeling chair revolution.

Variable Balans kneeling chair

Variable Balans Kneeling Chair In Red

The design is based on a curved rocking chair style frame, however instead of sitting in it like a chair the user places their shins on the front kneeling pads.

The idea behind the design is that it places your body in a much more open and healthy posture allowing good circulation.

Not only that the curved frame allows the user to use it in many different ways. As well as kneeling forwards in the chair you can also sit back in it too. The whole idea is to encourage movement as you work, instead of the the fixed angle of an office chair.

You can even place one or both feet on the floor, there are just so many ways to sit in the Variable Balans. Maybe you want to think something through. Why not use it as a rocking chair and pause and reflect as you rock in it gently?

It's now also available with a backrest too which acts as a support when reclining.

The next development in kneeling seat design came with the introduction of the Wing Balans.

Wing Balans
The Wing first appeared in 1983 and in many ways takes a more conventional approach in its design.

Wing Balans kneeling chair

Wing Balans Kneeling Chair In Black Fabric

It has a 5 star swivel base similar to those found on office task chairs.

The main advantage of this addition is it makes it more mobile when working at a desk. Users can quickly get around their work area by moving their feet to reposition the chair.

Despite this it is still essentially a kneeling chair. You rest your shins on its forward shin support. This support is adjustable allowing different heights of user to set it to the optimum position for comfortable working.

Another thing you will find with the Wing is it has a great cushioning effect as you sit in it. This is made possible by the integration of heavy duty rubber buffers on the underside of the seat. These give the chair a natural springiness making it very relaxing in use.

Let's move on to a more recent model the Thatsit Balans.

Thatsit Balans
In many ways the Thatsit which first appeared in 1991. looks a lot like the Variable as it's built around a similar style of frame.

Thatsit Balans kneeling chair

Thatsit Balans Kneeling Chair In Black Fabric

In reality it's actually quite a bit different, despite first impressions.

To start with the frame is larger. And the shin pads are adjustable in height for individual user comfort. Not only that they pivot making it possible to sit much further forwards in the seat.

It also has an adjustable back which makes it great for reclining and relaxing when you feel like it. You can quickly adjust both the height and depth of the back position. And the shape of the back support is designed so that you can rest your elbows on it when reclining.

And in keeping with the Varier concept of healthy movement, you can even sit on it backwards and rest your arms on the shaped back. All in all it's a deceptively versatile chair in use.


  • Variable Balans was the original commercial kneeling chair and is one of Varier's most popular products
  • Variable places the body in a healthy open posture
  • Wing is a great chair for moving around your work area
  • Wing's cushioning rubber buffers make it very comfortable in use
  • Thatsit shin pad adjusters make it easy to sit forwards and still remain very stable
  • Thatsit's back makes it a great choice for reclining as you sit

Further information
Here are the links to the full reviews:

And here are links to the six previous articles in this series:

  1. Herman Miller top 3 branded office chairs
  2. Steelcase top 3 branded office chairs
  3. Humanscale top 3 branded office chairs
  4. HÅG top 3 branded office chairs
  5. Neutral Posture top 3 branded office chairs
  6. Knoll top 3 branded office chairs



Is A Wood Kneeling Chair A Good Idea? A New Way Of Sitting

variable balans kneeling chair

Variable Balans Chair

Sometimes when you have been sitting in an office chair all day you can feel really seized up. And in reality your body is literally frozen in position from too many hours at that same 90° angle. Some gain relief by tucking the legs behind their seat base to open up the angle of the thighs with the torso. Guess what? That’s what a wood kneeling chair does naturally.

Where did wood kneeling chairs come from?
Wood knee chairs first appeared in Europe in the early 1970s and the original commercially produced one, the Variable Balans is still available today. Its designer Peter Opsvik wanted to offer chair users a healthier alternative way of sitting. He was impressed with the pioneering research by Dr A C Mandal who had demonstrated the health benefits of this way of sitting and why its diverse principals were superior to traditional seats.

How does a wood kneeling chair work?
It functions in a totally different way to a conventional chair. It still has a seat, however this merely acts as a resting place for the buttocks. The real work is done by the user’s shins, which rest on the knee pads at the front of the seat. With the curved runners allow users to lean forwards and backwards giving motion in use.

I suppose a more accurate name for this type of chair might be a shin chair as this is where the user’s weight is carried. It’s probably just as well that weight isn’t carried through the knees as this would likely cause fatigue and pain. One of the joys of using this type of kneeling chair is its versatility, there are so many ways of using it.

variable balans feet up

Variable Balans Feet Up

How many ways can you sit in it?
Its flexibility lets you use it in many different ways. The conventional way and the most popular is to place both shins on the front kneeling pads and rest your buttocks on the seat pad.
As movement and variation of sitting position is vital for maintaining a healthy posture this type of chair is ideal. You can rest one foot on the floor and leave one shin on the knee pad. Or you can rest both feet on the floor which places more weight on your bottom. You can place one or both feet on the knee pads. It’s great to mix and alter your seating postures throughout the day to suit the tasks you are performing.

Where can you use a wood kneeling chair?
Its most obvious function is as a replacement for your office chair however it’s a lot more flexible than a mere office seat replacement. It’s a great way to watch TV and is a whole lot healthier than sitting slouched in a sofa with a rounded back, which places so much strain on the spine. Due to their portability, it’s simple to transport from room to room and they make great dining chairs too. If you meditate regularly you'll love the feeling of freedom. There are just so many ways to use a wood kneeling chair, the choice is only limited by your imagination.

Why a wood kneeling chair is good for your body
It makes an excellent alternative to a conventional office chair because it allows you to sit in a much healthier open position. This encourages blood flow as well as aligning the body in a much better posture. And the ease with which you can change your sitting position makes movement shifts simple and easy. This type of seat is also very easy to get in and out of.

So if you keep feeling like your body is locked in time and need to be shoehorned out of your office chair, give some thought to a wood kneeling chair. It could be as very liberating experience.

Here’s where you can find some reviews of wood kneeling chairs covering a variety of different models.


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.


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.


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.


New Kneeling Chair Review Added

The Thatsit Balans Kneeling Chair takes the original idea from the Variable Balans chair to the next level.

Here designer Peter Opsvik has added some great additional features for improving adjustability and comfort.

This allows users to adjust several important components and so gain a better working position, here's what is included:

  • Adjustable Knee Rests To Fit Varying Sizes Of User
  • Adjustable Seat Depth To Allow For Individual Leg Size
  • Adjustable Back Height For Reclining Comfort (Where Fitted)


These small but significant changes can make all the difference allowing users to tailor the ThatSit to their personal needs.

You will find the full review of the Thatsit Balans here.

Copyright Of www.OfficeChairAdvice.com All Rights Reserved 2017 - 2018