Human beings were not meant to sit at a 90-degree angle for eight-plus hours a day, and we weren’t meant to stand for that long either. Unfortunately for many of us, our jobs did not get that memo. The way to protect your body from undue stress and damage is to invest in the best kneeling chair you can.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), “A chair that is well-designed and appropriately adjusted is an essential element of a safe and productive computer workstation. A good chair provides necessary support to the back, legs, buttocks, and arms while reducing exposures to awkward postures, contact stress, and forceful exertions.” At the most elemental level, kneeling chair benefits include taking pressure off your back by shifting your body forward, opening up your pelvic area, engaging your core muscles, and taking pressure off your spinal discs. (The name is a bit of a misnomer, as the chair doesn’t shift weight into your knees but rather your butt and your shins.) As a result of that sloping, you could also see improvements to your breathing and digestion (by taking the pressure off your internal organs), as well as improved circulation. The key—as with any seating setup—is variation. Eight hours on a kneeling chair is no better than eight hours on a regular desk chair. (Your legs, in particular, could cramp in the kneeling position.) Changing up your position is key, so try to get into a rotation of sitting, kneeling, and standing throughout the day whenever you can.
- Best kneeling office chair overall: Varier Variable Balans Original Kneeling Chair
- Best kneeling office chair with a back: CINIUS Professional Ergonomic Wooden Height-Adjustable Kneeling Chair with Backrest Support
- Best rocker knee chair: Rocking Kneeling Chair
- Best kneeling chair for shorties and kids: Posture Pro Ergonomic Kneeling Chair
- Best kneeling chair if you’re tall: Master Massage Ergonomic Steel Kneeling Chair
- Best cheap kneeling chair: Office Star Ergonomically Designed Knee Chair
Features to consider when shopping for the best kneeling chair
If you’ve ever gotten a seated massage, you’re acquainted with the general shape of kneeling chairs. Because they take the pressure off your spine, they can help improve posture and give you lumbar support. (On the downside, you won’t have much lower-body mobility when you’re in it, so if you’re at all claustrophobic—e.g., you dislike the feeling of your legs being stuck in place—this might not be the option for you, though you can and should play around with positions: one foot up, one foot down, ankles crossed, etc.).
When you first start using your knee chair, you might notice some discomfort, and that’s because you’re likely engaging muscles you don’t when you’re in a conventional computer chair. A kneeling chair forces you to sit up straight, which requires your abs, thighs, and lower back to engage. You may not be used to that. Eventually, you’ll be better for it, but as with any big change in life, there may be some growing pains!
Key factors in choosing the best ergonomic chair for you include height and adjustability. For example, your shins should rest comfortably on the leg pad, and not be squeezed or pinched, so read the measurements carefully to make sure you’ve picked a chair that’s compatible with your size and weight. The best kneeling chair is one that adjusts to you, not vice versa.
What’s the best kneeling office chair for my ergonomic workstation?
Though you’ll find models with loads of bells and whistles, the best kneeling office chairs all do the same two things: slope you forward so you’re not seated at a 90-degree angle and redistribute the weight of your body to your butt and shins. Beyond that, the important elements to look for have to do with the particular specs and adjustability of your chair so it fits everyone who’ll be using it. The end goal of a kneeling desk chair is improved lumbar curvature and lower-back-pain alleviation, so as long as you’ve found a reputable chair that opens up space between your pelvis and thighs, and supports you comfortably, you’ve done good!
Best kneeling office chair overall: Varier Variable Balans Original Kneeling Chair
Though not the most important quality in a knee chair, this one is aesthetically pleasing in that classic Scandinavian way, and comes in loads of colors. The wood design is simple, iconic and lightweight, so you can easily move it from room to room, creating an ergonomic workstation wherever you go.
Can I find a kneeling desk chair with a back?
Because of the way a knee chair shifts you forward, a seatback isn’t necessary or recommended, but there’s also no harm in having one if it makes you feel more comfortable. The key is to use it sparingly, when you need a break or if you have a medical condition that makes it difficult to maintain the sloped-forward position for too long without back support. It’s great for building stamina in terms of how long you can engage your core muscles to support you in the kneeling position, but there’s no shame in relaxing onto the backrest when you need to. Remember: The whole point of getting a kneeling desk chair is to help you feel better.
Best kneeling office chair with a back: CINIUS Professional Ergonomic Wooden Height-Adjustable Kneeling Chair with Backrest Support
This kneeling office chair is on casters, which gives you the freedom to roam without getting out of your chair. The knee-pad angles and the distance between the seat and knee pads are adjustable, so this is a more inclusive option than some others. The company recommends that anyone taller than 6-foot-5 remove the wheels to lower the overall chair height. Note also that it requires some simple assembly.
Are there knee chairs with a rocker function?
It might sound counterintuitive—or just complicated—to add rocking to the equation of a kneeling chair, but there are benefits to rocking out! Especially for fidgety folks, the subtle rocking motion can make sitting more comfortable, enhance blood flow, and possibly even help with focus and attention. If sitting still isn’t your thing, try this more active way to sit.
Best rocker knee chair: Rocking Kneeling Chair
A 20- to 30-degree seat-cushion slope is considered ideal for a kneeling desk (whereas a traditional computer desk is 90°), and this kneeling chair hits right at 30, shifting weight into your sit bones to gently tilt you forward. The best part of a rocker is that if you’re having trouble adjusting to your kneeling chair, the rocking motion can be a great distraction.
What’s the best kneeling chair for kids and smaller adults?
Almost all of them! Kneeling chairs are very much made for people who aren’t particularly big or tall—many don’t leave enough room for peeps with extra-long limbs to fit comfortably, and others have not-particularly inclusive weight capacities. That’s obviously problematic in terms of representation and access, but for petite peeps, it means the world is your oyster when it comes to kneeling chairs.
If you’re looking for a kneeler for a child or someone smaller than average, the best features you can look for are tilt, knee-pad, and height-pad adjustability, because what’s comfortable for someone 4-foot-8 will differ from someone who’s only a couple of inches taller. (In fact, adjustability is a key factor no matter what kind of kneeling chair you’re buying, and no matter your height.)
Best kneeling chair for shorties and kids: Posture Pro Ergonomic Kneeling Chair
This heavily-cushioned, wheeling, ergonomic kneeling chair can sit as low as 13 inches off the floor. It has wheels for easy mobility and folds neatly at the end of the day.
Are there any big and tall options?
The answer is yes, but not enough of them. Until that changes, you’re often unfortunately left to decipher based on your measurements. Some things to keep in mind: the height of your desk, and whether you have a long or short torso, or long or short legs. All of those things factor into whether a particular kneeler is the best kneeling chair for you just as much as your weight does. The simplest thing being not quite right— maybe the shin pads are more like ankle pads for you, or the seat doesn’t feel supportive enough—could throw the whole thing off. If you don’t feel confident in your measuring, make sure to buy only a fully refundable model in case it’s not right. When in doubt, pick an option that lets you adjust both the chair height and seat angle.
Best kneeling chair if you’re tall: Master Massage Ergonomic Steel Kneeling Chair Posture
A steel base in this posture chair makes your feel secure as you sit, and mesh cushions keep you cool. The front-locking brake mechanism adds an extra layer of security. Remember: Your work surface is at the correct height when your elbow is at 90 degrees. Too low and you’ll hunch; too high and you’ll have to reach.
Do I have to spend a lot to get an ergonomic desk chair?
What’s great about kneeling ergonomic desk chairs is that there hasn’t been much innovation since the original design, and that’s because the basics don’t need improvement. Remember that the key elements of kneeling office chairs are that they give you lumbar support, alleviate back pain and contribute to your overall ergonomic home office setup. Everything else—a rocking feature, a pretty design—is gravy.
Best cheap kneeling chair: Office Star Ergonomically Designed Knee Chair
The key elements of a kneeling chair are here—pressure relief, a memory foam seat cushion, casters—but it does have some limitations. Its weight capacity is a not-particularly-inclusive 200 pounds, and the chair itself weighs 16 pounds, making it one you likely won’t want to schlep from room to room.
Q: How should I sit in a kneeling chair?
Begin by sitting down as you would in any chair. Then place your legs on the knee pads, keeping the majority of your weight in your tush. You may then be naturally inclined to slouch, which is where your core comes in: Engage your muscles to keep your posture strong and upright, and voilà: You’re sitting in a kneeling chair! Remember to switch the position of your legs from time to time so they don’t get tired or fall asleep.
Q: What should the angle on a kneeling chair be?
Ideally, you’ll find a chair you like with an adjustable angle, so you can play around until you find the setting that’s exactly right for you. If you can’t, a chair with an angle of 25 to 30 degrees (dropping you from the usual 90-degree angle) is a safe place to start.
Q: Are kneeling chairs really good for you?
Like anything else, they’re not for everyone and have their downsides, but yes, they are really good for you! In addition to aligning your neck, shoulders, and back, they naturally roll your shoulders back. The key is not to overdo it with this piece of home office furniture. Alternate your kneeling chair with your regular computer chair, and take breaks from both of those by getting up and going for short walks, even just around the living room.
A final word on shopping for the best kneeling chair
If you end every workday with a big stretch and various involuntary noises that indicate your back is killing you, it’s time to change your chair. A kneeling desk is a great option for lots of people, and worth working into your rotation. When you find the best kneeling chair for you, your neck, your back, your shoulders and your six-pack will thank you.
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