Posted on 14th March 2017
Active sitting has become a very popular phrase over the last couple of decades but what is it exactly? How does it work? We decided to lay down a few key facts and examples to summarise our experience spanning two decades and help our customers understand the basics. Active sitting enables the human body to experience movement while seated. There are several ways to sit that allow us to do this, achieved with different tools and offering different results. Before we look at how we can achieve this, we should look at why we should aim at sitting actively and why it's important.
For decades employees have been sitting on relatively static chairs for long stretches of time. These chairs offer little to no adjustments, they don't follow the dynamics of the human body and over time they even invite the torso to relax for too long, weakening the back muscles and eventually encouraging a slouching "C" posture. Poor posture then leads to a wide range of complaints, from stiffness to long term back pain.
By sitting in a way that causes the muscles and joints to engage in the posture we achieve several things, including:
-Strengthening of deep torso muscles
-Strengthening of core muscles
-Lubrication of the joints
-Prevention of varicose veins
-Increased blood flow
-Increased overall energy and concentration levels
So what is the best way to sit actively? Ideally, the stool or chair used should allow the user to adjust the seating height to make the most of it and it should allow enough postural changes with no risk of injury or strain.
Kneeling chairs are very popular and we receive many requests for them. Kneeling chairs allow the torso to move freely and they also offer an oscillating movement meaning that both core and back muscles are engaged. Usually they will also allow the hips to move forward facilitating an upright posture. While these are all favourable points, kneeling chairs rarely offer a vast or precise range of height adjustment, meaning that the user might be sitting too low or too high in comparison to their workstation. It is important that the desk or table height is measured properly to ensure a correct workstation set-up. The user must also bear in mind that when sitting on a kneeling chair a lot of pressure is applied on the knee joints so we usually recommend their use for short periods of time, usually a couple of hours, alternating with either standing, sitting on an ergonomic chair or both.
Sit-stand stools can be used for sitting and perching and they are a great companion to any standing desk. They usually offer a very good range of height adjustment, tension control and some of them even come with an extra "bounce" for the ultimate core strengthening experience.
The Muvman stool by Aeris is a basic, compact yet very effective perching
stool. The seat height is highly adjustable and it offers a gentle wobble. The movement comes from the base of the stool and for this reason the gas stem follows the inclination of the spine. An extra added bonus is that when the stool is not needed it can be minimised, hidden under a table and lifted by using the handle on the seat.
Swopper stools offer a couple of additional features: a tension control adjustment and a third dimension of movement, i.e. a vertical bounce which complements the side to side and forward and backward movements. Such a comprehensive range of movement allows all supporting muscles to tone and perform at their best. The stools can also come with castors, offering a more dynamic approach to desk work.
The Back App stool features a contoured saddle seat which opens up the hip area and tilts the pelvis forward to encourage the correct alignment of
the spine. It also comes with a unique adjustable ball on the base, so the base can be static, wobbly or very wobbly, each user can pick their preferred setting. The stool is also height adjustable.
Dynamic and perching stools can be used continuously for 2-4 hours at a time. For users who are just switching to active sitting or with weak musculature, it is recommended starting out using them for a shorter period of time and building up their usage over a period of time as their backs may initially feel tired without the full support.
In this respect, Haider chairs offer 3D seat and TrainBackMatic technology, providing users with a full active sitting experience while also offering a fully ergonomic backrest. The chair works by creating a counter-movement to every movement started by the user, training the musculature and parts of the nervous system involved in maintaining good posture.
Haider chairs are also unique because they are the only chairs without a fixed mechanical connection between the seat, the backrest and the ground; these are arranged in a free-float thanks to steel cables. There are also four shock absorbers to prevent the seat and user from oscillating too fast.
In summary, active sitting is more than a trend, it is a new way of looking after our body to counteract the potential damages caused by long sitting hours and fixed positions which don't mirror the natural requirements and functions of the human body. There are plenty of options to choose from to suit individual requirements and these can be adjusted or upgraded as the user's musculature and balance progress over time.
For a free consultation or to try all the available options you can visit us give us or a call for further information.