In 1979, Hans Christian Mengshoel developed the original kneeling chair, also known as a Balans chair. The kneeling chair, as the name suggests, is designed so the person using the chair can kneel slightly forward while working at their desk. This position allows the user’s body to maintain good posture while preserving its natural S-shape, eliminating any pressure or pain a traditional office chair may create in one’s lower back.
According to a study published by the Annals of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, people who experience back pain may gain relief from using a kneeling chair. Additional research suggests that individuals who spend time sitting in their natural S-shape posture are more likely to have stronger core and back muscles.
If you suffer from back pain and haven’t had any luck with a standing desk or traditional office workspace, read on for tips on how to choose the best kneeling chair for your office space.
- BEST OVERALL: Papafix Ergonomic Kneeling Chair
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Office Star Ergonomically Designed Knee Chair
- BEST FOR TALL PEOPLE: DRAGONN (by VIVO) Ergonomic Kneeling Chair
- BEST FOR SHORT PEOPLE: ProErgo Pneumatic Ergonomic Kneeling Chair
- BEST WOODEN: Master Massage Comfort Wooden Kneeling Chair
- BEST WITH BACK SUPPORT: Cinius Ergonomic Kneeling Chair
- BEST ROCKING: Varier Variable Balans Original Kneeling Chair
Key Considerations for Choosing the Best Kneeling Chair
Unfortunately, purchasing a kneeling chair isn’t as easy as clicking the “checkout” button. To help, we’ve outlined a few things you should take into account before buying your first kneeling chair.
Kneeling chairs come in a variety of styles—each with its own benefits. Here’s a breakdown to make your purchasing process easier.
- X-frame kneeling chairs, as the name suggests, have an x-shaped frame and four casters. This allows users to move around easily. X-frame kneeling chairs also offer seat height adjustment options so that the user can choose the perfect height for their body type.
- Balans (the original kneeling chair) are typically made from wood and allow for slight rocking, which provides an increased range of motion. Balans chairs are available with individual or double knee pads.
- Kneeling chairs with a 5-star base look much like the standard office chair with a 5-star base (five casters) for maximum mobility. These chairs typically have one knee pad.
- Kneeling chairs with back support may be more suitable for users who spend a considerable amount of time at their desks or for individuals with a medical condition. It’s also perfect for taking short breaks to switch back to sitting in the upright position.
- Saddle kneeling chairs combine either an x-frame or Balans chair design with a saddle-style seat pad. This curved design may help improve your posture in the cervical lumbopelvic region (which could reduce neck and back pain).
- Sit-stand kneeling chairs are versatile, allowing users to lean, sit, or stand while using it. This chair design provides dynamic flexibility, encouraging movement throughout the day.
Kneeling chairs can be made from a number of materials. Hans Christian Mengshoel’s original design was equipped with a wood base. Nowadays, kneeling chairs feature metal frames and seat cushions made from memory foam. Some even include armchairs for added comfort.
While traditional office chairs usually have padding on the seat and the backrest, a kneeling chair also includes a padded shin and knee rest. Some kneeling chairs may use standard polyester foam, whereas others may come equipped with memory foam. When buying a kneeling chair, it’s important to take the thickness, breathability, and placement of the padding into account, as much of your weight will be placed on the padding.
When sitting in a standard chair, your thighs are at a 90-degree angle from the floor. This puts unnecessary pressure on the lower back. A kneeling chair drops your thighs to an angle of 60 to 70 degrees, which engages your core and encourages your shins to support your weight.
Seat and Shin Pad Distance
Each individual is different, so we all have our own needs and requirements. Tall adults have different needs than shorter adults, for example. Individuals who are much taller or shorter than the average person may have a difficult time shopping for kneeling chairs, as they’re not necessarily one-size-fits-all. Luckily, individuals who are not of average height can opt for an adjustable kneeling chair.
As mentioned above, adjustability is key when looking for a kneeling chair. Because every human body is different, many kneeling chairs offer adjustable seat heights and angles in order to promote the most comfortable and ergonomic position—this is especially important if more than one person will be using it. You should also take the method of adjusting the chair into consideration, as some models must be adjusted with a manual hand screw.
When it comes to kneeling chairs, there are two types of mobility to consider: Range of motion and overall chair mobility.
- The range of motion is important when using a kneeling chair, as users should be able to slightly shift their positions for optimal comfort. While some kneeling chairs lock the user in place, others offer increased body mobility. Rocking kneeling chairs are preferred by many due to their many adjustment options, allowing users to sit in a number of different positions.
- Chair mobility is a separate consideration. Some kneeling chairs are placed on casters, which allow you to move around your workspace more easily. Five-star base kneeling chairs and x-frame kneeling chairs provide the most mobility. Balans chairs, however, offer limited mobility.
Although kneeling chairs were designed with comfort in mind, this doesn’t mean they’re perfect for every task. For this reason, most kneeling chair users switch between a kneeling chair and a standard desk chair throughout the day, making storage a key consideration.
Our Top Picks
Now that you know more about kneeling chairs, it’s time to start shopping. Our top picks consider type, adjustability, angle, padding, and mobility. This list offers a variety of top-notch kneeling chairs to suit your needs and budget.
Papafix’s sturdy x-frame model angles your body into a more ergonomically-desirable position. It has an adjustable height, ranging from 21 to 28 inches, with a maximum weight capacity of 250 pounds. The upholstery is made of faux leather and contains 3-inch foam padding on the seat and shin rests.
This ergonomic kneeling chair measures 27.2 inches by 18.9 inches by 7.1 inches and weighs 17.65 pounds. It has four caster wheels with brakes that can be locked for increased stability.
This pick has a memory foam seat and shin pads, adding an extra level of comfort not found with basic kneeling chairs. The x-shaped frame has a black metal finish and features black upholstery. It also has dual shin rests, allowing users to choose their seating style throughout the day for optimal comfort. The seat is manually adjustable, with a minimum height of 20.5 inches and a maximum height of 28 inches. It can accommodate up to 200 pounds.
This chair measures 26 inches long, 19 inches wide, and 8 inches deep. The seat width is 17 inches while the depth is 12.5 inches. It weighs 20 pounds, making it one of the heavier options available.
For those on the taller side, finding a kneeling chair may be a difficult task. This pick, however, has a wide range of adjustable heights (21 inches to 31 inches) making it ideal for tall and shorter adults alike. It has a maximum weight capacity of 250 pounds.
The Dragonn also has 3-inch thick cushions, providing ample support to the shins and buttocks. The gray upholstered material of the seat provides a stylish, modern look. Its dimensions are 27.25 inches by 18.9 inches by 7.9 inches and it weighs 19.2 pounds.
Some shorter people may have difficulties finding a kneeling chair that’s suitable for their body type, but this x-frame kneeling chair by ProErgo can be adjusted using a pneumatic pump, making it easy to use for shorter adults or even children. It has an adjustable height range of 19.5 to 25.5 inches, allowing you to achieve the ideal position.
This kneeling chair also has 3-inch fabric cushions, which are made from breathable materials, and includes four easy-glide caster wheels for optimal chair mobility. It supports up to 250 pounds and its dimensions are 27.8 inches by 19.1 inches by 7.5 inches.
Looking for a chair with flair? The Master Massage Comfort Wooden Kneeling chair is for you. With a frame made of beechwood and a seat made of durable, bright-red, PVC vinyl upholstery, this chair touts a modern Scandinavian design. The padding features 2 inches of semi-firm foam and the chair includes four universal caster wheels.
The seat height is manually adjustable with a 6-hole design. Its height can be adjusted from 16 inches to 26 inches and its width can be adjusted from 20 inches to 24.5 inches. It has a length of 17 inches and weighs 14.8 pounds.
This kneeling chair is made from black rubberwood and features thick padding covered with durable material. It has an x-frame design, four caster wheels, and added back support which allows users to take breaks and shift positions without switching to a different chair. The angle of the chair is also adjustable, letting users choose the optimal position for their body type.
The total height can be adjusted from 32.25 inches to 38.75 inches. The seat cushion has dimensions of 18.5 inches by 13 inches and the knee cushion measures 37 inches by 10.6 inches. This chair is ideal for people who are 6 feet or shorter and weigh less than 200 pounds. It’s recommended those shorter than 5 feet 5 inches use felt pads rather than the casters supplied.
The Varier Balans chair is a true original. It has a distinctive Scandinavian appearance that’s minimalistic and contemporary. It also has dual shin rests and gives users the ability to rock back and forth. Note: The manufacturer encourages users to sit in a variety of positions, either with both shins resting on the padding or with one or both feet up.
It’s available in nine seat color options, with either a Black Ash or a Natural Ash Base. The only downside? It’s not adjustable. Its dimensions are 28.8 inches by 21.3 inches by 4.1 inches and it weighs 14.2 pounds.
The Advantages of Owning a Kneeling Chair
Let’s review the benefits of using a kneeling chair. Kneeling chairs may help to:
- Engage your core
- Keep your spine straight
- Improve posture
- Strengthen back muscles
- Relieve hip and back pain
- Relieve neck pain
Tips for Using a Kneeling Chair
While choosing the right kneeling chair is important, knowing how you use it will also have a major impact on your overall results.
- To transition to using a kneeling chair, use it for 20 minutes at a time at first.
- Expect to feel discomfort for a period of days or even weeks as your body becomes accustomed to the new position.
- Ensure there is no weight being placed on your knees.
- Switch between a kneeling chair and a standard ergonomic desk chair throughout the day.
FAQs About Your New Kneeling Chair
If you still have questions about kneeling chairs, here are a few answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
Q. How do you sit on a kneeling chair?
Ensure the majority of your weight is resting on your buttocks by sitting down bottom first. Then place your shins against the shin rests, making sure that no pressure is being placed on your knees.
Q. Can you sit on a kneeling chair for an entire workday?
Kneeling chairs are not recommended for long-term use. Experts suggest using them for short periods throughout the day and switching to a standard ergonomic desk chair for the duration.
Q. Are kneeling chairs good for hip pain?
Yes. Kneeling chairs place the hips in a more open position and take the pressure off the hips and back.
Q. Are kneeling chairs good for scoliosis?
Yes. Balans chairs in particular are recommended for those with scoliosis, though it’s particularly important they ensure they’re not putting added pressure on their knees.
Q. Does a kneeling chair help sciatica?
Yes, kneeling chairs can reduce the pain and discomfort that comes with sciatica, especially sitting sciatica which can make remaining in a seated position for long periods of time uncomfortable.