If you’re someone who sits a lot, then you probably worry about the long-term health consequences. You want to get up and move around more, but when everything is so busy, it’s hard to make time. This is where balans chairs come into play.
This type of chair positions the legs at a 90-degree angle, which is the best angle for your lower back and spine. The combination of its design and ergonomics makes this an excellent office chair.
Join us as we look at the function, types, and history of this chair.
An Overview of Balans Chairs
Balans chairs, also known as "kneeling chairs", are designed to place the user in a sitting position that angles the thighs between 60 and 70-degrees, as opposed to the usual 90-degree sitting position most chairs have. In this position, the body’s weight is distributed across multiple areas.
Moreover, these chairs are meant to reduce lower back strain. They do so by splitting the body’s weight more evenly across the knees and buttocks. People who have pain in their coccyx and the tailbone can benefit from these types of chairs. In fact, this type of pain can also be brought on by sitting in office chairs for long periods of time.
When sitting in these types of chairs, the spine is in alignment. If the person leans forward, the angle of the body remains at 90-degrees or wider.
Unfortunately, some misunderstood reports say that people with bad knees shouldn’t use these types of chairs.
This is NOT true. Since the majority of the body weight is still on the buttocks, the rest is placed onto the shins. No weight is put on your knees. The only reason for the shin padding is to keep the person from sliding off the chair.
Studies have shown that balans chairs are great for people who sit for longer periods of time.
One such study done by A.C. Mandal found that a sloped seat like this tips the pelvis and opens the angle between the torso and thighs. This process aligns the spinal column, which is a better position for sitting. Other studies from recent years have also found that these ergonomically designed chairs do a good job of keeping your standing posture intact while sitting.
Let’s find out the different types of balans chairs are currently available.
The 4 Types of Balans Chairs
Balans chairs and kneeling chairs come in pretty standard designs, but there are some variations. Read on to find out how the design can change:
Single Padded Chairs
The first type of balans chair is affordable and simple in their design. They have a seat cushion and a cushion for your legs. Many of these types also use wood instead of metal for the structure, thereby making them less expensive.
They usually have wheels as well, for quick movement and transportation.
The next type of balans chair has two separate pads for the legs, with an open space in the middle. These pads are typically made with a special foam that relieves pressure points. The separated pads also keep the legs at an ideal angle.
Some variations of these chairs also have arched bases that allow them to rock back and forth. This promotes muscle tone and helps ease the symptoms of arthritis.
The stool variation of this chair has wheels and a simple design. The key difference here is the addition of pneumatic gas lifts that allow you to adjust the height on-the-fly.
This type of balans chair is also very durable, standing the test of time with its simple, but effective metal frame.
Saddle Kneeling Chairs
The final type of kneeling chair is one that trades the seating pad for a saddle shape. These curved seats are similar to the shape that bicycles have, and work better than a standard flat cushion.
What to Look for in A Balans Chair
Kneeling chairs encourage the body to remain in a good posture, but they don’t do all the work. You’ll need to lean more forward than back to get into the best position. Knowing this, you should look for a chair that makes it easy to sit upright and forward.
Look for kneeling chairs with angled seats that encourage this posture. Angles of 20 degrees or more will make it harder for you to lean back and fall into a bad posture.
If you’re tall, you may have trouble finding a chair that fits. Keep in mind that a standard desk height doesn’t leave much room for your legs, so look for chairs with height adjustments to meet your needs.
Also take into account that people with knee problems don’t need to avoid these chairs. They take the pressure off your back, but they should not put that weight on your knees.
Balans Chairs: A Brief History
In the early eighties, a new movement came about that sought to change the older and conservative styles of past sitting furniture. Several young designers by the names of Peter Opsvik, Svein Gusrud, and Oddvin Rykken had a new understanding of ergonomics behind them.
At this time, we were just discovering the negative effects on the human body of sitting for long periods of time. These designers developed furniture that focused on the users and the concept that the body wasn’t built for sitting still.
By creating furniture that caused your body to sit in balance, you were strengthening muscles in your back, shoulders, and neck. The term “balans” was chosen because it means “balance” in Norwegian.
Those same designers went on to create other types of balans furniture that focused on this concept of balancing the human body and designing furniture for the user.
Wrapping it Up
The different types of balans chairs on the market all focus on placing the user in a balanced position. These chairs are perfect for people who want something to alternate into if they sit for long periods of time.
Whether you’re someone looking for a healthy way of sitting, or you have back pain that would benefit from a kneeling chair, this is a great option.