Watch Your Back with the Ergonomic Body Balance Task Chair

Whilst ordinary ergonomic office chairs assume a normal sitting position, with most of the user's body weight placed upon his or her rear end, and the rest spread out against the back rest, there is a type of chair, known as an ergonomic body balance task chair, which provides support to the knees as well. The unique semi-kneeling position that the ergonomic body balance task chair forces the user to adopt is supposed to provide greater comfort and safety, and leave the user feeling energized even after several hours of sitting. In this article, we will examine some of the claims made for the ergonomic body balance task chair.

Does the Ergonomic Body Balance Task Chair Work?

According to the manufacturers, ergonomic body balance task chairs relieve spinal compression and reduce stress and tension in the back and leg muscles. They are an evolution of the Variable Balans kneeling chairs designed by the Norwegian furniture designer Peter Opsvik in the 1970s, and which have been extensively evaluated. Trials of the kneeling chairs found that they are not generally any more comfortable that a well designed office chair, but that for some people suffering certain back problems, they could prove helpful. A major disadvantage is that standing up and sitting down is more difficult than with a normal office chair.

A typical body balance ergonomic task chair, such as the ones produced by Global Industries, consists of a padded seat and a knee rest, covered in fabric, attached to a steel frame and mounted on two sets of castors on a dual axle. The seat and knee rest are adjustable, to adapt to the needs of the individual user.

One difference that the body balance chair has from the traditional office chair is that a normal ergonomic task chair supports the mid back whereas the kneeling chair is normally backless; though hybrid chairs with back support, such as the Kneelsit chair, are available. The lack of a back rest has been blamed for causing curvature of the spine, but trials have shown that this curvature is no worse than it is when standing up normally.

Other disadvantages of the ergonomic body balance task chair are that they cause the shins to bear body weight and that they flex knees and ankles more than a normal chair. They are not recommended for anyone who has to sit for more than three hours at a time. But for short periods, they can provide considerable comfort.