Is your low back or neck sore after a long day at the office? It could be the way you’re sitting. Ever wonder if a kneeling chair is right for you? Well, sit back and let me explain a few of the benefits.
The spine is designed with a series of S curves. This is so the body can more readily absorb shock and bear weight without breaking. Think of bed springs, which have a lot of curves, compared to a straight piece of metal. The springs will bend and compress and recover more readily when confronted with stress compared to the straight one which is more likely to snap, or bend permanently, under the same pressure.
How much curve?
The amount of curve in each S is the next thing to consider. Too much or too little curve and the supporting muscles strain and tense to try to maintain some sort of balance. The body likes to maintain a sense of balance - think holding an apple on top of your head – because it takes less energy and lets muscles relax.
When you’re sitting there should be a slight curve in the lumbar spine – the part of your spine right above the hips. Using a regular chair keeps your hips bent at 90 degrees. This, along with a back rest allows your spine to be lazy as the chair becomes your support system. Because they are not used, the muscles of your core, low back, and abdominals, weaken over time causing low back pain and loss of mobility. The result is a “C” in the lumbar spine which is a flattening or even bend in the opposite direction taking away its shock absorbing properties.
The kneeling chair
Hans Christian Mengshoel is celebrated as the inventor of the modern-day kneeling chair we use today, with his design he made back in 1979.
However, it has been said that the concept of kneeling chairs can be traced back to ancient Buddhist traditions, where Buddhists use pillows and benches to create a comfortable kneeling position for extending periods of meditation.
Benefits of a kneeling chair:
Increases the hip angle - A kneeling chair lets the knees drop below the level of the hips increasing the hip angle up to 130 degrees. Why is this important? It tilts the hips forward which allows the low back to maintain its natural curve.
Increases core recruitment - Most kneeling chairs do not have a back support. This means the muscles of the low back and abdomen – the core – need to work to maintain good posture. Essentially, it requires your body to actively hold itself up.
With more muscles engaged it can be easier to get work done as you feel more awake – you can’t sleep and stay upright! Your boss will be thrilled!
A scientific study published in the National Centre for Biotechnology Information found that lumbar curvature on an ergonomically designed kneeling chair is superior to a standard computer chair.
Although it seems that a kneeling chair is better than a conventional office chair for keeping your lumbar spine neutral, it’s still beneficial to move every 20 to 30 minutes during the working day. Check out this Cornell study. If you’re hesitant about going all in, keep your current office chair and swap them out every hour or so. The change will do your body good!
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