The concept of kneeling chairs and how they work

Posted on January 4. 2016

Health & Lifestyle


The concept of kneeling chairs and how they work

The principle of the Kneeling Chair was first developed in Northern Europe during the 1970’s from ideas on alternative seating positions that stemmed from Danish surgeon Dr. A C Mandal and Norwegian Hans Christian Mengshoel. They invited a number of chairs designers to take the kneeling concept further by developing a kneeling chair based on their principles.

The Variable BALANS

Several kneeling chairs come from this work, but the best known of these is the Variable balans by Norwegian designer Peter Opsvik.

The name BALANS is synonymous with one of the main principles of the design of the Variable balans kneeling chair. This is because the Variable balans encourages you to find your natural balance line, which runs in a line from your ear, to your shoulder, to your hips and ankle. These are perfectly aligned when seated in kneeling position in a Variable balans.

This balance line encourages the body to form an open posture. When you are seated in a normal chair your body is formed like an “h”, and you are typically sitting in a closed angle of 90° or less. In comparison, an ergonomic chair like the Variable balans one sits in an open angled position of about 110°.

There are tons of benefits of sitting in an open angled position. It is in general a much healthier body posture which allows your back (and spine) to form its natural curvature. This relieves spinal compression (which causes an aching back) as well as prevents tensions in your lower back and leg muscles. Adopting the kneeling seating position also allows your diaphragm to move efficiently and promotes better breathing and blood circulation.

By promoting these healthy postural benefits you will also find you gain increased energy and concentration and just feel healthier. This is why Mengshoel and Mandal called this position a “dynamic seating position”.

But don’t kneel all the time though!

The Variable balans is considered the best kneeling chair, because unlike other kneeling chairs, it promotes varied sitting positions. You should never be supporting the bulk of your weight with your knees or upper shins. The lower pads should be act as a support for your knees or shins, and will help you maintain a healthy seating angle, but please don’t forget to vary your positions! Once you get used to the seating position of a kneeling chair and the many benefits it offers to you it will become effortless and seem completely natural.

Some users struggle to find comfort in a kneeling chair to begin with. This next entry about kneeling chair comfort will explain how to best to use one.

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