If you’re experiencing discomfort or pain at your desk, it may be time to consider a more ergonomic setup. In previous guides we’ve consulted experts on finding the best laptop stands, adjustable desks, ergonomic keyboards, ergonomic mice and even noise-canceling headphones. The next step to improving your overall comfort and efficiency at work may be a kneeling chair. While they look a little unconventional, the experts we spoke to noted that kneeling chairs can be a better alternative than conventional desk chairs for your spinal alignment.
SKIP AHEAD What is a kneeling chair | Best kneeling chairs to shop
What is a kneeling chair?
Unlike a traditional office chair, in which your hips are closed at a 90-degree angle, putting pressure on your spine, a kneeling chair is specifically designed with a seat that has a 20-degree downward slope and a cushion that supports your knees. This angle allows your hips to rest in an open-angled position of 110 degrees, relieving unwanted pressure on the spine and properly aligning your back, neck and shoulders to encourage core engagement and prevent back strain.
“One of the most important features of a kneeling chair is that it helps open the pelvis and bring the spine into a more neutral position,” said Dr. Sapna Sriram, CEO and founder of Integra Health, an agency that offers personal health-care services in your home.
Dr. Allen Conrad, a chiropractor at Montgomery County Chiropractic Center in North Wales, Pennsylvania, agreed: “The standard chair we all use at the computer puts the low back at approximately a 7-degree angle,” he said. “This may be fine for only sitting,” Conrad said, “but combined with leaning forward for prolonged computer work, this can lead to back pain and other painful conditions.”
While taking breaks and walking around can help with circulation, and ergonomic office chairs can certainly help, our experts all agreed that kneeling chairs uniquely offer an advantageous alignment for your spine by setting your lumbar spine at a 20-degree angle, which helps contract your postural stabilizer muscles and improve lower back pain, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information in a recent study.
Dr. Conrad cautioned that if you suffer from certain knee conditions, like meniscus tears or injuries to your patellar tendon, a typical kneeling chair might not be the best choice. Instead, he suggested looking into an ergonomic saddle chair — named so because it resembles an equestrian saddle — as an alternative. Like a kneeling chair, a saddle chair encourages the forward rotation of your pelvis, taking pressure off your spine and permitting it to maintain its normal lumbar curve.
Types of kneeling chairs
Kneeling chairs offer various key elements, such as height adjustments, different weight capacities, cushioning and sometimes even wheels — all of which should be explored to find the right fit for your needs. For example, Sriram suggested looking for a chair with “generous” or thickly-padded cushions, since they can “offload the pressure placed on the shins and knees with prolonged use.” She also recommended looking for kneeling chairs that allow for height adjustments and have locking wheels.
But besides those key elements, there are a few different types of kneeling chairs that may benefit people of different body types and/or injury histories. Conrad highlighted the following:
- X-framed kneeling chairs. These chairs have an X-shaped lateral frame. One of the advantages of these chairs is that they can adjust to people’s heights, so they work well for both young kids and people over 6 feet.
- Balans-type kneeling chairs: In 1979 Scandinavian inventor Hans Christian Mengshoel created the Balans chair to provide a more balanced way of sitting, The Balans chair is typically made of wood and has a curved leg so you can rock back and forth.
- Saddle chairs: A good option for people with degenerative knee conditions, these chairs are a “cross between X-framed and Balans kneeling chairs,” said Conrad. Saddle-type chairs don’t have knee pads for you to rest on and instead have you sit on top of them like a horse saddle, which, like the typical kneeling chair, encourages the forward rotation of your pelvis, taking pressure off your spine and permitting it to maintain its normal lumbar curve.
Best kneeling chairs to shop
Based on guidance from experts, we’ve rounded up some top-rated kneeling chairs — including X-framed chairs, Balans chairs and even a saddle chair — that can help improve lumbar support, reduce pain and improve your posture.
Varier Variable Balans Original Kneeling Chair
The Variable Balans has a simple wood base that is curved, allowing the chair to rock back and forth, which can help maintain core strength and improve balance. It’s height adjustable, has a weight limit of 240 pounds and comes in eight different colors. It has a 4.3-star average rating from over 700 reviews on Amazon.
Sleekform Atlanta Kneeling Posture Chair
This X-framed ergonomic kneeling chair’s height can be adjusted from 21 to 28 inches via a knob at its base. The Atlanta is ideal for anyone from 5 feet 1 inch to 6 feet 6 inches and can support up to 220 pounds, says the brand. It also includes built-in rollers for mobility. The cushions are extra thick, at 4 inches, and are made of 100% recycled foam. It has a 4-star average rating from over 1,000 reviews on Amazon
Flash Furniture Mobile Wooden Ergonomic Office Chair
This X-framed kneeling chair sits on dual caster wheels and can be folded up and stored away when not in use, making it ideal for small apartment dwellers. The wood chair, which can be manually height adjusted, has two fabric-padded cushions that are 2 inches thick. This chair comes in black or grey and has a 4-star average rating from over 1,700 reviews on Amazon.
Antlu Saddle Stool Rolling Chair
Available with or without a backrest, this chair resembles more of a horse saddle than the typical kneeling chair with knee pads. The chair can support up to 400 pounds, and users can adjust its height between 21 and 28 inches. It has a 4.4-star average rating from over 3,000 reviews on Amazon.
Predawn Ergonomic Kneeling Chair
This white oak wood-framed kneeling chair has pads made from 3.15-inch-thick foam and rocks back and forth as you sit. The chair can support up to 265 pounds and includes an anti-slip pad on the bottom, which the brand says can help prevent floor scratching. It has a 4-star average rating from over 400 reviews on Amazon.
Vivo Wooden Rocking Kneeling Chair
The Vivo kneeling chair has a solid wood frame and 4-inch-thick black cushions for added comfort. It supports up to 250 pounds and has a 4-star average rating from over 200 reviews on Amazon.
Meet our experts
At Select, we work with experts who have specialized knowledge and authority based on relevant training and/or experience. We also take steps to ensure that all expert advice and recommendations are made independently and with no undisclosed financial conflicts of interest.
- Dr. Sapna Sriram, CEO and founder of Integra Health, an agency that offers personal health-care services in your home.
- Dr. Allen Conrad is a chiropractor at Montgomery County Chiropractic Center in North Wales, Pennsylvania.
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