Types of Kneeling Chairs

The selection of chairs on the market in today’s world is simply stunning. There’s a focus on furniture that combats the effects of sitting for long periods of time. When you’re on the lookout for the different types of kneeling chairs, you’ll find that they have a lot of health benefits.

Whether you want to change things up in your office, or you need something that takes pressure off of your back, join us for a look at kneeling chairs in all of their forms and how to find the perfect one for yourself.

An Overall Look at Kneeling Chairs

Kneeling chairs get their name from the form that you’re in when using them. They are designed to place you in a position where your thighs are at an angle between sixty and seventy degrees.

This position is far better than the standard ninety-degree angle when sitting on a regular office chair. It shifts your body weight, so there’s less pressure on the lower back and buttocks.

So, if you’re someone who experiences pain in your tailbone or coccyx area, a kneeling chair could help. You could also benefit from one of these chairs if you sit in an office chair for the majority of your day. 

Let’s find out which types are available to you.


A Look at Balans Kneeling Chairs

Balans chairs are designed to place the user in a sitting position that angles the thighs between 60 and 70-degrees. This is opposed to the normal 90-degree sitting position most chairs have.

In this position, the body’s weight is distributed across multiple areas. 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. 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 still remains at 90-degrees or wider. 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.

Balans Chairs Varier Variable Balans Office Chair - Chair Institute

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 these tips the pelvis and opens the angle between your 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 found that these chairs do a good job of keeping your standing posture intact while sitting.

Let’s find out what types of kneeling chairs and balans chairs are currently available today.

Types of Ergonomic Kneeling Chairs

Depending on your setting and your needs, there are several types of kneeling chairs and balans chairs that could fit what you’re looking for. Let’s discuss them in detail:

Kneeling Stool

Kneeling stools are a simple and inexpensive design that gives you the benefits of this furniture without any high costs. These stools often have wheels in each corner, a wood frame, and two basic pads.

An image of Ergo Posture Kneeling Chair, Types of Kneeling Chairs

This is the perfect chair for your home as it’s simple and effective.

Executive Kneeler

An Executive kneeling chair is a perfect addition to any office setting. These come with memory foam pads that offer great support for long hours. The pads are bound in leather, and the frame is typically made from high quality polished wood or steel frame.

An image of Office Star Executive Kneeling Chair

This version of the kneeling chair combines a sleek look with premium materials for a chair that would look perfectly at home in an office.

Deluxe Kneeling Chair

If money is no object and you won’t settle for anything less than the best, a deluxe kneeling chair is a perfect fit. These types of chairs have adjustable heights, lumbar support, knee pads, and anything else you could want or need.

An image of Jobri Deluxe Kneeling Chair in gray fabric

These types of kneeling chairs also feature a backrest and a five-wheel design for extra portability.

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.

An Image of a TAA Compliant Ergonomic Single Padded Kneeling Chair

They usually have wheels as well, for quick movement and transportation.

Double-Padded Chairs

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 your legs at an ideal angle.

An Image of a Swedish Double-Padded balans chair

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.

Balans Stools

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.

An Image of a Superjare Ergonomic Working Stool

This type of Balans chair is also very durable, standing the test of time with its simple, but an 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. 

An Image of an ergonomic Kneeling Chair With Saddle Seat

The Pros and Cons of Kneeling Chairs

With all of the potential health benefits, you may be wondering if there’s any downside to kneeling chairs. Like any piece of furniture, they are not perfect, but there are plenty of pros to outweigh any cons.

Kneeling chairs are ideal for tasks that require fine hand movements. Some people cannot sit in them for prolonged periods while working on a computer. Furthermore, those who are especially tall may have trouble finding a chair that fits comfortably.

The only other issue is getting in and out of them. Kneeling chairs confine your legs to one position, so it can be tricky to stand up when you exit the chair.

These minor faults are balanced out by the benefits. This type of chair places you in an open hip angle that aligns your hips, back, shoulders, and neck. It’s the ideal posture for sitting.

For those who suffer from back pain, the posture of a kneeling chair can be a breath of fresh air. In some cases, it can alleviate this type of pain when sitting.

The History of Different Types of Kneeling Chairs

The history of the kneeling chair dates back to the 1970's. A man by the name of Hans Christian Mengshoel from Norway was the first to conceive this idea. He was inspired by the sitting positions of Tibetan monks, who often sit in a kneeling position for hours at a time during meditation.

These monks used a seiza bench, which wasn’t great for their knees but did give them a forward-angled seat that aligns their spine with their lower back.

A Danish surgeon by the name of Dr. A.C. Mandal discovered that children in school would lean forward on the front of their chairs to alleviate their back pain. Seeing this, he suggested that chairs should have a forward angle to them.

An image of original, vintage, kneeling chair designed by Peter Opsvik in 1979

This would tilt the pelvis forward and align the hips with the spine for an ideal posture. Mengshoel used this information to design his kneeling chair.

The original design of kneeling chairs had metal or wooden frames that sat on the ground. This design was a concern for many as it could allow the user to lean forward to the point of tipping over.

X-bar frames were the next stage of the kneeling chair evolution. These frames allowed the users to adjust the height of the chair. The latest innovation is the use of a 5-star base like many office chairs.

With five wheels at the bottom, today’s kneeling chairs resemble other office chairs. The additional wheels also give them more mobility for users who are in an active environment.

A Brief History of Balans Chairs

The balans version of kneeling chairs began in the early 1980s. 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 when 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.

What to Look For in Your Balans Chair

Kneeling chairs encourage your 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.

Balans Chairs Balans Chair Benefits - Chair Institute

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 someone who is 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.

Keep in mind 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.

Kneeling Chairs for All

Anyone can enjoy these types of kneeling chairs. They are a versatile piece of furniture that offers better posture than standard chair designs. Not only this, but they also come in a variety of designs and costs for any need.

Try out a kneeling chair yourself to see what it feels like to sit in an ideal posture.

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  • Chair Institute
  • April 27, 2018
  • Library
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