In this Know Your Furniture post, we will take a quick look at one of the more curious and unorthodox furniture pieces you are ever likely to see.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Kneeling chair.
A kneeling chair is a type of chair for sitting in a position with the thighs dropped to an angle of about 60 to 70 degrees from vertical (as opposed to 90 degrees when sitting in a normal chair), with some of the body’s weight supported by the shins.
The original kneeling chair was the Balans chair, which was developed in 1979 by Hans Christian Mengshoel and the designers Oddvin Rykken, Svein Gusrud and Peter Opsvik.
The intended purpose of a kneeling chair is to reduce lower back strain by dividing the burden of the weight to the knees as well as the buttocks. People with coccyx or tailbone pain resulting from significant numbers of hours in a sitting position (e.g., office desk jobs) are common candidates for such chairs. However, it is not proven that kneeling chairs are an optimal solution.
A proper kneeling chair creates the open body angle by lowering the angle of the lower body, keeping the spine in alignment and the sitter properly positioned to task. The benefit of this position is that if one leans inward, the body angle remains 90 degrees or wider. A misconception regarding kneeling chairs is that the body’s weight bears on the knees, and thus users with poor knees cannot use the chair. In a proper kneeling chair, some of the weight bears on the shins, not the knees, but the primary function of the shin rests (knee rests) are to keep one from falling forward out of the chair. Most of the weight remains on the buttocks. Another way to keep the body from falling forward is with a saddle chair. This type of seat is generally seen in some sit stand stools, which seek to emulate the riding or saddle position of a horseback rider, the first “job” involving extended periods of sitting.
A 1989 study on a sample of 20 subjects concluded that the Balans chair promoted greater lumbar curvature than the “straight back chair” during relaxed sitting, typing and writing and that it could contribute to treatment of lower back injuries. A more recent study from 2008 confirms that “ergonomically designed kneeling chairs set at +20 degrees inclination do maintain standing lumbar curvature to a greater extent than sitting on a standard computer chair.”
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Wishing you a wonderful day.