Is Kneeling Better Than Sitting For Your Back and Health? – Superfoodly (2024)

Is Kneeling Better Than Sitting For Your Back and Health? – Superfoodly (1)

Superfoodly

Contents

  • Is kneeling bad for you? Sometimes…
    • 1. Better health by reduced sitting time
    • 2. Good for posture
    • 3. Burning more calories
  • Reviews of kneeling chairs
    • The Rolls Royce for your knees?
Eating healthy is only the half the battle. You could be on an entirely raw plant-based diet of high ORAC foods, but that would not make up for the detrimental health effects of sitting in front of a computer for 12 or 14 hours a day – which unfortunately – is the life for many of us.

Sure, we may get paid boatloads of cash for doing so, but look at what it’s doing to our posture and health in the process!

We’re not here to give you BS advice like you should exercise more, because you’re plenty smart enough to already know that.

Rather, we look for simple and easy to implement hacks that you can use at the office to improve your health. One of those might be kneeling instead of sitting. Probably not all the time, but at least intermittently.

Columbia University’s study published in 2017 only re-affirmed the danger of being at your desk too long.

Out of nearly 8,000 adults it was found that being on your butt consecutively for one to two hours at a time was linked to higher rates of mortality across the board, regardless of cause. Even when those same people were frequent exercisers outside of work, it didn’t make up for all the time sitting. (12)

The solution they recommended was changing position every 30 minutes, which will require leaving your desk if you only have a traditional chair. Another good option is to get one which has a built-in kneeling capability.

Is kneeling bad for you? Sometimes…

Is Kneeling Better Than Sitting For Your Back and Health? – Superfoodly (2)First of all this advice is definitely not for everyone. There are pros and cons. Is kneeling bad for you?

If you have healthy knees, it’s perfectly fine so long as you have adequate cushioning underneath.

Though for many people with “carpenter’s knee” or past sports injuries, such as like tears of the ACL or MCL, their knees may not exactly be in stellar shape.

For those men and women, kneeling may be bad for you as it will cause unnecessary pain and possibly even further injury.

Though if you’re kneecaps currently work okay and don’t hurt from kneeling, then this technique is worth a shot. Here are 3 reasons why…

1. Better health by reduced sitting time

Whether it’s due to a sedentary lifestyle or a temporarily sedentary state while you’re stuck at desk all day, being in the same position – any position – for prolonged periods of time is never healthy (only during sleep is that a good thing).

The side effects of being in the same position include:

  • Constipation – Prolonged sitting is a frequent cause of this. In order to work optimally, your digestive tract depends on your body to move periodically (1). It’s the reason why constipation for those in the hospital is such a frequent problem, even when they’re not on opiates or other constipating medicines.
  • Lower back pain – Earlier research from 15 to 20 years ago did not support that sitting could cause this, but some recent research has (2) (3).
  • Increased likelihood of death – That may sound like an extreme statement, but a study involved 17,013 Canadians, 18 to 90 years old, who were monitored for 12 years (4). At the end of that period, 1,832 had died. With the exception of cancer, the amount of sitting and the likelihood of mortality were highly correlated. The last sentence of the study’s conclusion was “physicians should discourage sitting for extended periods.”

Is Kneeling Better Than Sitting For Your Back and Health? – Superfoodly (3)The solution isn’t to use a Japanese kneeling desk for 12 hours a day because then, you’re still in a sedentary position, albeit one different than a seat.

Nor do you want a treadmill desk 12 hours a day, because let’s be honest… for anyone who does real work on a computer, it’s practically impossible to be entirely focused on that crucial task while you’re also walking.

That’s because the electromechanics of walking – AKA gait control – places demand on cognitive centers of the brain. That can interfere with concentration and cognitive performance of other tasks (5).

It’s great to use a treadmill desk some of the time – such as when you’re talking on the phone – but inevitably other times, you really need to focus.

Enter the 3rd option… kneeling. Does it burn more calories? We will address that in a moment. More importantly, it involves changing your position and that forces you to use your back and abdominal muscles differently.

You can’t call it exercise, but the variety of movement changes things up. It’s a little step you can take throughout your workday so you’re not always in the exact same position … do 60 minutes sitting, 30 minutes kneeling, rinse and repeat (and throw a treadmill desk into the rotation if feasible).

2. Good for posture

Is Kneeling Better Than Sitting For Your Back and Health? – Superfoodly (4)There have been extensive studies which have consistently found that the opposite gender (or same gender, whichever you prefer) will find you more attractive if you have a better posture (6). So even if you don’t care about health, perhaps that may motivate you to sit up straight!

Plus, both men and ladies prefer being as tall as possible. Bad posture and slouching can shave a little of your height off.

The problem is that it’s difficult to force ourselves to sit properly in a computer chair. We do it when we’re conscious of slouching, but then we get distracted or have to lean forward to squint at something on the screen.

Forcing good posture never seems to work for more than a few minutes. However, the benefits of a kneeling chair may be able to change that.

There was a study several years back that involved 20 people (9 men, 11 women) who were 18 to 35 years old (7). Their lumbar curvature was measured in three different positions:

  • standing
  • sitting on a standard computer chair
  • sitting on an ergonomically designed kneeling chair set at +20 degrees of incline

The curvature of your lower back’s lumbar region is almost always best when standing. When you compare standing vs. sitting, the lumbar curvature is 24 degrees greater.

Kneeling won’t match standing, but it certainly is a lot better than your run your computer chair. The study found a “statistically significant difference” between them, with the chair for kneeling resulting in 7.63 degrees of additional curvature.

Whether you do it with a Jobri jazzy kneeling chair or a cheap one from Ikea or Walmart, chances are virtually any decent model will lead to better posture than what prolonged sitting in an office chair creates (which is a slouched back).

3. Burning more calories

Does kneeling burn more calories than sitting?

There have been a number of studies which have looked at how many calories are burned when standing and if there’s any difference versus sitting or laying down. It turns out there is.

Simply the act of standing burns 1.36 calories per minute (8) (9). Think about it… that’s 81.6 per hour.

Do that for 4 hours extra per day and you’ve already burned 326 calories. That’s actually more than what many people burn during their workout at the gym (sad, but true).

But before you get excited, there’s some bad news…

The media stories citing the 1.36 calories/minute (from the study) fail to take note that the figure is representing in excess of basal metabolic rate, which is literally the bare minimum you burn by simply being alive and existing, while doing absolutely nothing.

The truth is that even the simple act of sitting still burns calories in excess of your basal rate (10). The extra amount consumed depends on the activity:

  • sitting while relaxed: 30 calories/hour
  • sitting while eating: 45
  • sitting while studying: 50
  • sitting while typing rapidly: 70

Pick and choose one and subtract it from the 81.6 per hour from standing and the results are much less impressive… standing ends up being 11.6 to 51.6 excess calories per hour.

However, no one has measured standing AND typing rapidly, or standing AND studying, etc., which based on the pattern, will use more energy.

So while it’s merely a hypothesis, the most accurate answer would be an apples to apples comparison of subtracting 30 (sitting while relaxed) from the 81.6 (standing while relaxed) which would mean about 50 extra calories per hour, not the 81.6.

Is Kneeling Better Than Sitting For Your Back and Health? – Superfoodly (5)If you stand for 4 hours extra per day, that means the amount above and beyond your basal metabolic rate is probably more like 200 total (not the 326 you hear others cite).

But how do the excess number of calories burned from kneeling compare to standing?

When it comes to the chairs to kneel with, unfortunately no studies have been done to measure if additional calories are used. Some product reviews by customers have likened it to a “mini core workout” and say they feel it in their thighs and glutes more, but something more quantitative than a “feel” would be nice to know.

Using calculations from the last referenced source, kneeling is the same as relaxed sitting… both burning an excess 30 calories per hour.

That’s bad news, but may not be the final answer.

There is a plethora of research which has looked at kneeling during prayer, since that is one of the few activities where people are inclined to kneel for more than a minute or two at a time, and hence, it’s actually worth measuring.

When it comes to the amount of calories burned from kneeling while praying, that number has been pegged at 68 per hour (11). Now you have yet another reason to give thanks to Jesus.

In conclusion, there are contradictory answers as to if kneeling is better than sitting. Since no one has measured energy expenditure while kneeling at a desk, doing typical office work, we can only guess whether it’s better than doing the same act while sitting.

But what we can say is at worst it’s the same and at best, you may be burning more calories similar to praying on knees. There are no cons, only pros that might result.

While not a quantitative answer, based on the “feel” of many people who do it, they say they feel their thighs, glutes, abs, and lower back muscles being worked (at least relative to what they experience sitting).

Reviews of kneeling chairs

Not surprisingly, some of the best rated chairs are also some of the most expensive.

However, there are plenty of positively reviewed options priced at under $200. This includes the Defy Desk kneeling office chair with wheels and thick cushion.

Is Kneeling Better Than Sitting For Your Back and Health? – Superfoodly (6)

This is a version of the Jazzy chair without the back. We recommend the one with the back.

If you’re willing to pay a few bucks more than that, then consider the Jazzy Kneeling chair with back. What’s nice about this is that in can serve as both a regular chair and one for kneeling. That means one less piece of furniture to clutter up your office.

It’s also discreet looking (assuming people don’t peep under your desk) so when you’re seated normally, you won’t have to be bombarded with questions of what it is and why you use it (we hate small talk, it’s a waste of time).

The Rolls Royce for your knees?

Famed Norwegian industrial designer Peter Opsvik brought the Variable Balans chair to the market in 1979 and it was considered groundbreaking.

The company which resulted, Varier Furniture, produces what is considered the Rolls Royce for this category.

Is Kneeling Better Than Sitting For Your Back and Health? – Superfoodly (7)

They have unique versatility. You can kneel, use them as a regular chair (but with better posture), and do subtle rocking to get even more movement.

Varier kneeling chairs can set you back a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars.

However given the fine materials they use, their precision craftsmanship, and the decades of scientific research which goes into them, they are leaps and bounds ahead of an Ikea kneeling chair.

If you’re a high-earning exec, paying a few hundred or even a couple thousand actually makes a lot of sense if it means increased productivity, better health, and less back pain. Plus, these are the type of products that you can probably use for decades. When you amortize the amount paid per year of use, it actually is a bargain. Especially if it saves you trips to chiropractor during that time!

Is Kneeling Better Than Sitting For Your Back and Health? – Superfoodly (2024)

FAQs

Is kneeling better than sitting for your back? ›

Kneeling is good for your back in that you're not slouching in a chair for long periods, which puts a lot of pressure on your vertebrae. Kneeling also activates core muscles, which supports your back.

What are the benefits of kneeling instead of sitting? ›

While kneeling chairs have shown significant benefits to reducing the risk of long-term and negative effects of sitting for extended periods. Kneeling chairs also help to improve the strength in your neck/back, improve your blood circulation, reduce chronic pain in the arms/hands, and promote deeper breathing.

Is kneeling good for your legs? ›

Sitting causes your hips, knees, and ankles to be out of alignment, while kneeling puts them back into alignment. Having tight hamstrings and back pain can be caused by this. Kneeling is also a better workout for your body than sitting because it activates more muscle groups.

What is the correct posture for kneeling? ›

“Posture up”, maintain a forward line of vision, hands resting on your thighs and with your arms relaxed while maintaining controlled abdominal breathing. Step 2) While maintaining great stability in your feet and ankles, start driving the hips forward to lower the knees while leaning the upper body backward.

What is the healthiest position for your back? ›

The Overall Best: On your back. Sleeping on your back evenly distributes weight throughout your body and avoids unnatural or unnecessary curves in the spine. Use a small pillow underneath the head and neck (not shoulders) to keep everything in alignment.

What is the downside to kneeling chairs? ›

Prolonged use of kneeling chairs can be as bad as normal chairs themselves, as kneeling will impede the blood flow in your legs, especially if you choose the kneeling chairs that don't come with a cushion or a wood frames.

What happens if you kneel too long? ›

Knee bursitis is a common complaint, but your risk of developing this painful disorder can increase from: Prolonged kneeling. People who work on their knees for long periods — carpet layers, plumbers and gardeners — are at increased risk of knee bursitis.

Can you sit in a kneeling chair all day? ›

Rocking kneeling chairs are designed to promote 'active sitting' and in many situations this encourages more core activity. Rocking kneeling chairs can be used all day by most people after acclimatisation.

What is the risk of kneeling? ›

Kneeling and squatting:

Excessive kneeling or squatting can cause irritation, inflammation, and pain. If the ligaments in your knee become too unstable, your knee may give out when you pivot your foot to turn and walk.

What leg do you kneel with? ›

Traditionalists say you should kneel on the left knee, like a proper knight. Most people are right side-dominant, so using your right leg might be more reliable. Studies and surveys on kneeling to propose universally ignore which knee hits the ground. Your partner probably won't notice which knee you use.

Should I keep my knee straight or bent? ›

Tip #1: Avoid Sitting With Your Knee Bent Or Cross-Legged

This can also increase the pressure on your knee joints, which can cause pain and swelling. To give your knees relief, limit the amount of time you spend with your knees bent or crossed. Try to have them straight whenever possible.

How long should you sit in a kneeling chair? ›

Kneeling chairs are perfect for your posture, but based on experience and research, it's ideal using them in conjunction with a standing desk. Last tip is that we recommend you take a break from the chair every 45 minutes or so. We find it best switching between a kneeling chair and a standing desk every 45 minutes.

What position puts most pressure on lower back? ›

Even laying on your side is appreciably more stress than laying flat. At the other end of the spectrum, sitting while leaning forward and lifting weight puts the most strain across your back. When dealing with significant lower back pain, keep this in mind.

Which position puts least pressure on back? ›

Laying on your back creates the least amount of pressure. Just by standing straight you put 4 times the amount of pressure on your lower back as compared to laying on your back. And bending forward while standing will increase the pressure on your lower back by another 50% as compared to standing straight.

What is the best sleeping position for back pain? ›

The best sleeping position to reduce pain and avoid injury is on your side, according to research. If you sleep on your back or stomach the risk of developing back pain increases by 23 percent. Side sleeping positions can be made more comfortable with a thin pillow between the knees.

What is the most natural way to sit? ›

Best sitting position
  • keeping the feet flat or resting them on the floor or a footrest.
  • avoiding crossing the knees or ankles.
  • maintaining a small gap between the back of the knees and the chair.
  • positioning the knees at the same height or slightly lower than the hips.
  • placing the ankles in front of the knees.

What should one never do from a sitting position? ›

What to avoid doing while sitting?
  1. Tilting the head forward to prevent neck injury.
  2. Sitting without lumbar support to prevent back pain.
  3. Working with arms raised to prevent neck and shoulder pain.
  4. Bending wrists to prevent wrist pain and muscle cramps.
  5. Working with unsupported forearms to prevent shoulder and back pain.

What do chiropractors think of kneeling chairs? ›

Chiropractors recommend kneeling chairs as they help your body maintain its natural curvature of the spine and ease discomfort in the lower back.

Is sitting on a stool good for your back? ›

For those who deal with back pain, this can help to reduce aches and soreness from bad posture. Sitting on a stool or saddle seat also encourages 'Active Sitting', which helps to strengthen your core and back muscles, all of which can lead to improved comfort and productivity in the workplace.

Is kneeling bad for circulation? ›

Though it isn't painful to the knees unlike common misconception, it can still restrict blood flow to your lower extremities when used for long periods of time. You can either go for a stationary kneeling chair or a rocking kneeling chair which promotes more movement.

Why does it hurt to kneel as you get older? ›

Muscles and ligaments get weaker. The knee's two shock absorbers — pads of cartilage called menisci — start to deteriorate. So does the articular cartilage protecting the ends of the leg bones where they meet at the knee.

What is the #1 mistake that makes bad knees worse? ›

You're putting too much pressure on your knee

The right exercise is good for your knee, and the wrong exercise, such as running, can put too much pressure on your knee. Likewise, doing deep bends and squats for exercise for leisure, as with gardening, can exacerbate knee pain.

Is walking on concrete bad for your knees? ›

Unlike other surfaces, concrete has no give. This inflexibility affects the body. Standing or walking on concrete flooring every day can result in backaches, knee pain, swollen legs and sore feet. Left untreated, you may experience injuries and chronic pain.

How do you position yourself on a kneeling chair? ›

To start with, sit on the chair like you would any other with your bottom on the seat and your legs on the floor. Adjust your position until you're comfortable. Then, lift your legs to put your knees on the pads provided. This seating position may feel strange at first as your muscles aren't used to it.

Is a kneeling chair good for hip pain? ›

What are the benefits of using a kneeling chair? Kneeling chairs also known as orthopaedic chairs can relieve back and hip pain by arching your back which encourages the natural S shape of the spine. This engages your back and core muscles which leads to postural improvement over time.

Is kneeling chair good for herniated disc? ›

“Laying down is the best, standing up [is second best]. But, when you sit there's the most compression.” Kneeling chairs are meant to lessen that compression, evening out the donuts and disks. “A lot of regular chairs, when you're sitting, people would slump or they would be static,” Conway continues.

Is kneeling bad for arthritis? ›

Avoid exercises that include squatting or kneeling. They can put a lot of strain on your knees. Talk to your doctor to make sure that the exercise you do is not making the arthritis worse.

What is the importance of kneeling? ›

Traditionally, kneeling is a more penitent posture, while standing is a more joyous, celebratory one. This is often why congregations (at least in the Episcopal church) kneel for the Eucharist during Lent and stand during Easter. It's a way for one to show outwardly what one believes inwardly.

What is the significance of kneeling? ›

Kneeling is a sign of reverence, submissiveness, deference—and sometimes mourning and vulnerability.

Why do Catholics kneel on one knee? ›

According to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, “a genuflection, made by bending the right knee to the ground, signifies adoration, and therefore it is reserved for the Most Blessed Sacrament” (No. 274). The custom was approved formally by the Roman Catholic Church in the early 16th century.

Why do Catholics kneel before sitting? ›

The Catechism tells us that genuflecting is “a reverence made by bending the knee, especially to express adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.” Jesus is really, truly, and substantially present in the Eucharist, which is reserved in the tabernacle.

What is the difference between kneel and kneel down? ›

“Kneeled down/knelt down” means the same thing as “kneeled/knelt.” The same distinction applies to these forms: In UK English, “knelt down” is more popular (though “kneeled down” is still acceptable). In US English, both “knelt down” and “kneeled down” are commonly used (though “knelt down” appears more often).

Is it better to rest or walk with knee pain? ›

If your knee hurts, you might want to stay off of it. But resting too much makes your muscles weaken and often makes knee pain worse. Find a way to get moving without hurting your knee. Some good exercises for people with knee pain include walking, swimming, and water aerobics.

What is the best painkiller for knee pain? ›

Over-the-counter medications — such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve) — may help ease knee pain. Some people find relief by rubbing the affected knee with creams containing a numbing agent, such as lidocaine, or capsaicin, the substance that makes chili peppers hot.

How far should your chair seat pan be from the back of your knees? ›

Seat Pan Depth

With your back against the backrest, the front edge of the seat pan should not touch the crease of your knee. You should be able to fit two fingers between the front edge of the seat pan and the backs of your knees. A seat pan that is too short may not give adequate support under your thighs.

What angle should my kneeling chair be? ›

A kneeling chair drops your thighs so that the angle is wider between your lower back and thighs, usually at about 60 or 70-degrees. The chair can reduce the strain on your lower back and helps to keep your core muscles engaged for a more active sitting posture.

Is a kneeling chair better than a regular office chair? ›

Kneeling chairs create a 110 degree back/thigh angle as compared to the 90 degree back/thigh angle with a traditional chair. This creates a more natural spinal curve which dramatically reduces the pressure in the lumbar discs of your spine when you sit. Kneelers reduce lower back pain.

What is the best position to sit with back pain? ›

Sit with a back support (such as a rolled-up towel) at the curve of your back. Keep your hips and knees at a right angle. (Use a foot rest or stool if necessary.) Your legs should not be crossed and your feet should be flat on the floor.

Is it better to sit stand or lay down with lower back pain? ›

Generally, the sitting position that puts the least pressure on the back and shoulders is best for lower back pain. Typically, this involves placing the feet on the ground and using back support.

Is it better for your back to sit on the floor? ›

Children often naturally gravitate to the floor. Despite this, health professionals are increasingly advising that sitting on the floor helps to maintain the natural curvature of the spine and so helps people sit more upright and improve posture.

Why squatting and kneeling may be better for your health than sitting? ›

Since light levels of muscle activity require fuel, which generally means burning fats, then squatting and kneeling postures may not be as harmful as sitting in chairs.”

What should you not do with lower back pain? ›

6 things you shouldn't do when your back hurts
  • Avoid bed rest. When your back hurts, lying down might seem like a good plan. ...
  • Don't sleep on your stomach. ...
  • Stop lifting heavy things or twisting your back. ...
  • Refrain from repetitive bending or stooping. ...
  • Avoid sitting for long periods of time. ...
  • Avoid certain exercises.

Is Walking good for lower back pain? ›

Going on walks: Initial research suggests that going on a walk or brisk walking (Nordic walking) can help relieve back pain if done regularly – for instance, every two days for 30 to 60 minutes.

What are the best exercises for lower back pain? ›

Walking. Walking is good for low back pain because it's a low-impact exercise that offers the benefits of regular physical activity without aggravating the muscles and tendons of the lower back. It uses and stretches muscles in your back, is easy on your joints and can reduce bone and muscle loss.

Is a recliner good for lower back pain? ›

Many people think they need to sit up completely straight but research suggests sitting in a reclined position is actually better for the spine as it reduces pressure. Back in 2006, academics in Canada and Scotland found that reclining by at least 135 degrees was effective in relieving back pain.

Can too much walking cause lower back pain? ›

Prolonged walking or standing can tire or strain the muscles in the lower back and legs, which can lead to aches and pains. This pain or discomfort usually gets better with sitting or lying down to rest the back.

Why do Japanese sit on floor? ›

Okinawan centenarians sit and get up from the floor dozens or hundreds of times per day. This exercises their legs, back, and core in a natural way as they get up and down all day long. Sitting on the floor also improves posture and increases overall strength, flexibility, and mobility.

Why does my back feel better laying on the floor? ›

It May Improve Your Posture

Good posture supports the natural curvature of your spine. Sleeping on the floor can make it easier for you to keep your spine straight during sleep, since you don't have to worry about sinking too deeply into a mattress.

Is it bad to kneel for a long time? ›

You're more likely to develop osteoarthritis if you frequently kneel or bend your knees. If you have osteoarthritis, your joints may feel: stiff. swollen.

Which sitting position is bad for knees? ›

Sitting with your knees crossed or bent under you over-stretches the ligaments and muscles surrounding your knee. This can also increase the pressure on your knee joints, which can cause pain and swelling. To give your knees relief, limit the amount of time you spend with your knees bent or crossed.

Why should you avoid sitting with your knees higher than your hips? ›

If you sit in a chair that's too low, forcing your knees above your hips, that can put a lot of pressure on your spine. It's not bad for a short period of time, Truumees says, but sit that way all day and you could be aching by quitting time.

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