Kneeling and saddle chairs can help you activate your core whilst seated. And it’s becoming a fashion to have one complimentary seat along with your traditional office chair. This is also one way to inject minute movements, at least for our core, while seated.
So which is a better option and what’s the difference between the two?
How do you sit on a saddle chair?
Saddle chairs are like a mash-up between an office chair and an equestrian seat. The base of this chair is similar to what office chairs have, there go the caster wheels and the four to five legs.
But instead of a single flat cushion with a waterfall design, these chairs have saddle-shaped seats, hence the name. It can either be one or two cushions fused together. Sitting on this chair would somehow feel like you’re on horseback riding.
These chairs also have very low back support, it just runs along the lumbar section.
Saddle chairs may function similarly to a kneeling chair. It pushes your pelvis forward and helps your back achieve a normal S-shaped curve. And like the kneeling chair, it will also challenge your abdominal muscles. It pushes your body forward, you’ll also feel this when you’re sitting on a kneeling chair.
They are also referred to as saddle stools. And these are higher than your ergonomic office chair so can discourage you to slouch.
Saddle chairs allow more range of movement
When it comes to freedom of leg movement, this will be the Achilles heel of kneeling chairs. No matter what brand or how much your kneeling chair costs, you will never be able to move your legs freely.
Saddle chairs, on the other hand, provide more movement for your legs. Since the base is akin to a traditional office chair, you can move your legs as you wish.
If you have sat on a backless task chair, that is how it will feel, only better since the cushion is more spine supportive. So that is also pretty much the difference between a task chair and a saddle chair
Not only will you have more room for your legs, but you will also have more range of movement. You can often see saddle chairs in dental clinics. It allows them to reach for tools and instruments while reinforcing the lumbar to a healthier position. Dentists sit for long hours and this type of chair can provide good spinal support.
Saddle chairs also prevent spinal compression, which is the main cause of back pain when you’ve been sitting for a long time. You’re better off sitting longer in a saddle chair than in a backless regular task chair.
Kneeling chairs are harder to adjust
And we have said this before when we pitted kneeling chairs with ball chairs. Adjustable kneeling chairs can just be too challenging or too finicky.
Saddle chairs will only have an adjustable seat height, like in a ball chair. So you will easily be able to find the perfect alignment for your spine. But it’s easier to find balance in a saddle than in a ball chair. There is less risk of toppling to the sides.
That’s why it can be a friendlier option for those who want to train core muscles to be stronger. Using a kneeling chair might be too hard for some and most kneeling chairs have a smaller scope of users, albeit having adjustable features. It’s either you fit in the chair or you don’t.
But keep in mind that while it doesn’t have confusing adjustable features, you have to be certain about the dimensions of the saddle seat. It should be able to support your anatomical size.
Some seats may have a narrower pommel or front part, so it’s better to try it first before buying.
So it seems that saddle chairs are on the winning end right?
The distance between the knees in a saddle chair is wider than in a kneeling chair. Your knees are closer together when you’re in a kneeling chair. We find the wider hip abduction more supportive for the spine. That’s why you can also last longer in a saddle chair than you would in a kneeling chair
But you have to be able to sit on it properly so that you will find it comfortable.
Though you can opt to sit with your knees together in the case of a single saddle, keeping your knees apart will help you achieve more balance. It will also help enhance blood flow to the legs, which is also one of the reasons why saddle chairs are better than kneeling chairs.
So in a sense, you have to acquire the same position as a ball chair. Only that it is easier to find and regain balance since it isn’t round at the top. And if you need more assistance, saddle seats with a backrest will give the needed support.
Who cannot use a saddle chair
When you sit in a saddle seat, it’s like you’re sitting on a horse with a saddleback seat. So you can feel your spine lengthening since the seat prevents you from slouching.
And unlike office chairs, your legs are not held at 90 degrees, they’re wide apart and this gives better spinal control and prevents numbing of the legs.
But there are always exceptions to the rule. So even if this chair is better than a kneeling chair, it’s not meant for a particular group of people.
Here’s one, remember when you feel that lengthening of the spine, that also accounts for your core to really be engaged.
Saddle chairs will still challenge your core muscles. Though you will be able to get one with a low backrest, this chair will still need your abs to be perky and awake. So if you have very weak abdominal muscle and balance, this is not for you.
Here’s the second one. Saddle chairs go higher than other types of sitting solutions. Thus, you might need a standing desk that can go higher.
And as such, taller users will find saddle stools more valuable. Petite users might find their legs dangling from the seat. Unless you buy a saddle chair with a foot ring, then it could suffice for your legs.
And three, though saddle stools are more comfortable than kneeling chairs, sitting on them for 8 straight hours can still be uncomfortable for most.
And the type of cushion will make a lot of difference. If you need to sit on it for longer, choose chairs that have split saddles. This will be able to provide better spinal support. But you have to be mindful of how large the horn of the seat is, especially for men.
A single saddle seat may be tougher and can be uncomfortable for the genital or perianal area. So split saddles are better for longer sitting. But choose those with small horns, bigger horns can put too much pressure on the nether area.
Who will find more value in a saddle chair?
Anyone who can engage their core muscles enough. It’s an easier way to get started with active sitting compared to a kneeling chair or a ball chair.
If you also want to have more leg freedom and more range of movement, this is a better pick. For professions that entail moving from side to side, this is a more productive chair.
But if you cannot engage your core it can put a strain on your vertebrae and your legs. So instead of comfort, it can lead to pain.
Kneeling chairs are just too limited. Most units can only be used by skinny to average-sized users. Chunkier and taller users will find it hard to squeeze into the char, getting out can be hard too.
Also, kneeling chairs can only support forward work while saddle seats are more versatile.
Kneeling chairs just puts too much pressure on the knees
Kneeling chairs have their own niche, they can be used for 1-2 hours. But sadly, most, if not all, put a lot of pressure on the knees. And if you know how to fiddle your way through this type of chair, it can be a great complimentary seat.
Many will find saddle chairs more comfortable and more versatile.