In the 1970’s, Hans Christian Mengshoel, a Norwegian, invented the ergonomic kneeling chair. His goal was to create a chair that provides more comfort for the user by increasing the angle between the legs and the torso. This configuration also provides more space for the muscles of the hips as well as less pressure on the buttocks. With this, a more comfortable sitting position is achieved. The spine is arranged well vertically, which then yields to less pressure to the muscles located in the spine, obliques, and abdomen. The position is ultimately achieved by changing the angle of the seat, tilting it to about 20-30 degrees more towards the ground, so that the shins rest on pads located on the chair.
The ergonomic kneeling chair is designed to encourage the sitter to assume a kneeling, praying position but the chair is altered to make a slight difference. Unlike with what most people think, the chair is not designed to make the user lean forward while sitting. It is, on the other hand, designed to position the person in such a way that the angle between the torso and thighs is greater than 90 degrees. With this angle, the spine is allowed to stretch up vertically, ensuring good posture in the back. Less muscle pain is felt by the psoas and hip flexor muscles because there is less compression in this position.
There are a great number of benefits that the ergonomic kneeling chair gives. Unlike the traditional 90 degree angled chair, which can compress the muscles in the hips as well as force a forward tilt on the pelvis due to prolonged hours of use, the ergonomic kneeling chair is designed to relax the hips while in the sitting position. Lower back pain which is commonly felt with the use of the traditional 90 degree chair is not as prominent when an ergonomic kneeling chair is used.
The ergonomic kneeling chair is also great for the spine because it keeps the spine straight while sitting. This is done by tilting the seat of the chair forwards towards the ground. It also enables the body weight of the user to be supported not only by the buttocks but also the shins. This in turn lessens the pressure on the spine because the typically heavy pressure given to the buttocks is removed due to proper weight distribution.
Personally, I love the ergonomic kneeling chair. As a computer engineer for 10 years, the desk job I had resulted in chronic back pain and some issues regarding my vertebral disks which was seen clearly with the MRI I had. Steroid injections, acupuncture, nerve ablations and pain medicines are just some of the attempts I tried to relieve the pain. When I changed my chair into an ergonomic kneeling chair, the issues I had with my spine were eventually reduced. Today, I have the chair in my work place and at home because I don’t want poor ergonomics to affect my spine again. For those who have similar conditions to what I was experiencing, and for those who spend a lot of time sitting in front of the computer, I suggest you try switching to an ergonomic kneeling chair.
by Matt Elmore – Editor, Ergonomic Kneeling Chair World
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