One of the most common complaints regarding ergonomic kneeling chairs is shin discomfort or pain, a situation that is caused by a portion of your body weight being supported by the shins, due to the sloped design of the seat. Throughout most of our lives, most of us have trained our bodies to sit in traditional 90 degree chairs. Once this pattern is broken, our body naturally feels uncomfortable as it adjusts to the new roles that each limb or muscle now have to take on. Fortunately, there is a quick and easy fix for this issue…adjust the slope of the seat.
Reducing Shin Pain
Let’s look at the scientific reasoning behind this painful situation. A traditional chair has a flat seat, creating a 90 degree angle. This allows 90% of the body’s weight to be supported by the seat, and the other 10% is then absorbed through your contact with the ground, a weight distribution method that causes poor posture and lower back pain. Ergonomic knee stools are designed so that the seat slopes down anywhere from 20-30 degrees, which redistributes the body’s weight and causes the shins to take on 20% of the body’s weight, a potentially painful situation if a few simple tips are not followed.
Most ergonomic knee stools have an adjustment for both height and seat slope, depending on the model design and the age of the product. Older models will only have one main adjustment, as the height and slope are controlled by the same lever and the design incorporates a folding action. Newer models should have a separate adjustment for seat slope which does not affect the height, which may or may not be important to you depending on the dimensions of the other furniture in your work area and where your monitor is located.
More expensive models have an added feature that allows you to adjust the angle of the shin rest itself. If your model has this feature, note that a sharper angle, which tends to be more beneficial for the bones, has been reported to reduce circulation to the legs and cause some discomfort for some people. If this is the case with you, relax the angle somewhat to reduce the compression felt between the calves and the thighs. If you do not experience any discomfort at the sharper angle, then by all means leave it that way. This sharp angle was modeled after the kneeling posture of the Buddhist monks, and the compression caused by the sharper angle has been shown to strengthen the bone density of the femur and fibula, which promotes stability and robustness.
One last feature you will want to check out before purchasing your ergonomic product is the thickness of the padding on the shin rest. You will want to look for a product that has a high quality, firm foam material as padding, and one that has good customer reviews. Within the reviews, watch for key phrases about firmness of padding, especially after a period of time, and note whether anyone has complained about being able to feel the wood through the padding. If so, move on and find another model for the sake of your shins.
As you are looking into purchasing an ergonomic product, it is important to take these things into account, and thereby reduce your risk of going through any painful transitional period.
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