I swapped my office chair for a kneeling chair and it was surprisingly versatile - MrLiambi's blog

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Tuesday, 3 August 2021

I swapped my office chair for a kneeling chair and it was surprisingly versatile

A kneeling chair can be a surprisingly versatile work from home seating option.

My job involves a computer almost entirely, which means, among many benefits, that I'm sitting all the time. The extended work-from-home limbo that I have gratefully inhabited during the pandemic has reduced significantly the amount of walking I do â€" to the train, up the stairs, to the break area or the bathroom. Since I cannot exist without working some minimum amount, and I've made my choices as to industry, I've turned my focus to my chair.

'Active sitting' postures, ones that lightly engage your core or legs while you're resting, can counteract some of the drawbacks of a sedentary lifestyle. Essentially, you're not quite as sedentary as you are when you're laying on the couch. People in Western and industrialized nations spend 9-10 hours a day sitting, according to the University of Southern California, often in chairs that place the body at 90-degree angles. This encourages slouching and puts a lot of pressure on the spine, often leading to back pain.

Squatting and kneeling encourage a more natural posture, but people who grew up without regular use of these postures tend to find them very difficult to hold.

Enter: Kneeling chairs.

What is a kneeling chair?

Kneeling chairs â€" the name is almost an oxymoron â€" are supportive structures designed to allow a person to maintain a kneeling-like posture despite not having joints that can actually kneel for long periods. They place the pelvis at roughly a 20 degree angle and have pads for the shins to rest on. Kneeling chairs also distribute the body's weight between the shins and the butt, lessening the burden on the tailbone.

I tested out two kneeling chairs: The Variable Balans by Varier ($349) and the Fully Balans Kneeling Chair (currently sold out at Fully). Here's how they measure up over several weeks of use.

CARD ID: 552327, CARD TYPE: SideBySide

The Variable Balans vs. the Fully Balans

Both chairs are beautiful to look at and are descendants of an original 'balans' prototype from designer Hans Christian Mengshoel. Scandinavian designers, fortified with a new understanding of ergonomics and how the body reacts to sitting in a chair for long periods, attempted to design their way to a solution. Balans chairs encouraged the body 'to support itself.' The Variable Balans was designed in 1979 by famed Norwegian designer Peter Opsvik.

The aesthetic: A classic example of Scani design, the light wood goes with pretty much everything and the upholstery was high-quality on both chairs. The Fully Balans comes in a variety of colors, while the Variable Balans was only available from Fully in black upholstery. However, the Variable can be purchased directly from Varier in a wider range of colors, and the MoMA Design Store has a few exclusive colorways available as well.

Set up: Assembling the Fully Balans took about 40 minutes, about twice as long as the Variable, since it has more pieces and castor wheels. When I first tried to assemble the Variable Balans, a manufacturing defect required a replacement part. But, calling customer service got a replacement shipped quickly.

Weight limits: The weight limit is 225 lbs on the Fully Balans and 240 lbs for the Variable Balans.

Comfort: Both kneeling chairs were a comfortable height at a standard computer desk, and overall, they were both more comfortable than my classic office chair. As with any seating option, it's wise to pay attention to your desk-surface height and your monitor height. You should make sure that you can look straight ahead at your monitor and rest your arms lightly on your keyboard without hunching your shoulders. I felt a little awkward at first, as if I were perched above the fray of normal life, but adjusted quickly.

Even then, it's wise to take regular breaks from sitting. Comfortable chair aside, I've realized that I still need to remember to get up and move around. Remote workers with a lot of meetings will want to build in breaks. Similarly to sitting in the Tick Tock Chair, I noticed when I'd been sitting too long. My legs, arms, and shoulders would become uncomfortable.

But frankly, that's true with any chair, and I notice discomfort and fidgeting faster with my 'executive-style' chair. Since the kneeling chairs lack arm rests, they can be placed closer to a desk at a variety of heights, making it easier to reach the keyboard without straining.

Which chair wins?

My Fully Balans chair came with the optional backrest, which I appreciated immensely. Had I tested the Variable Balans with a backrest, I think it might have taken the prize. But the Fully Balans chair had a thicker cushion and I was comfortable sitting in it for longer periods of time.

That said, the Fully Balans is also clunkier, and doesn't push under a desk as well as the Variable Balans. I also wish I'd realized that I could sit on the Variable Balans backward (check this video). That would have been a good option for when kneeling became uncomfortable and I wanted to switch back to regular sitting.

In both chairs, I got fatigued kneeling in them for longer periods of time. I wished that there was an easier way to use them as regular chairs, but my legs aren't long enough to comfortably sit around the kneeling support pieces. If you are a person who is 5'7' or taller, this might not be an issue. Having subsequently seen some videos of the multiple ways a user can sit in the Variable Balans, I'm inclined to conclude that it's the more flexible chair overall. I'd like to try out some of those other positions (sitting on the chair backwards or with one foot resting on the kneeling pad) and see how that affected my workday.

The chairs' material also had a tendency to itch my shins after prolonged use, especially in an office without air conditioning. I suspect that this would be less annoying when wearing pants instead of shorts.

Add to cart?

At this point in my work life, I've more or less accepted that there is no perfect seating option. Instead, I'm considering how to spread different types of work across different spaces and configuration â€" a task made easier because I work remotely. Perhaps reading can be done laying down on the couch instead of adding to my sitting-at-a-computer time, for example. That said, modern office chairs are among the least flexible pieces of furniture, and I found the portability and flexibility of the kneeling chairs â€" the Variable Balans especially â€" to be a strong selling point. Their aesthetics also earned them points in an apartment where no furniture can be hidden away.



Source : http://feeds.mashable.com/~r/Mashable/~3/hTWyD8uHd3o/kneeling-chairs-variable-balans-fully-balans

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