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Autonomous saddle chair brings a lot of incredible health benefits for those of us who sit at a desk all day long, ergonomic chairs are one of the best ways to improve posture, strengthen core muscles, and reduce pain. But they’re not the only way. Another great entry in the ergonomic office furniture lineup is the saddle chair.
Chances are, you’ve seen these chairs before, but you may not have known exactly what you were looking at. We understand the confusion. Saddle chairs don’t resemble the regular ergonomic office chairs you’re used to. They don’t even really resemble stools. In fact, their appearance puts them in a category all by themselves. Rest assured, however, that even though they may look weird, saddle chairs can help you feel much better while working at your desk for six to eight hours a day.
So saddle up, office workers of the world! The experts at Autonomous are here to tell you all about the ergonomic saddle chair. Along the way, we’ll answer the following questions:
- What is a saddle chair?
- What are the benefits of using a saddle chair?
- How can I start using a saddle chair?
We know you’re excited to hear about the amazing benefits that saddle chairs can produce, but first, it’s important to know exactly what makes a saddle chair a saddle chair.
What Is A Saddle Chair?
When you think of an ergonomic office chair, you probably envision sleek, modern version with armrests and multiple points of adjustment that allow you to tailor the back and seat to fit your body. The saddle chair looks nothing like that. In fact, “saddle chair” is probably a bit of a misnomer. “Saddle stool” would be more appropriate because the primary distinction between a chair and a stool is the lack of a back and armrests. But we’re not here to quibble over technicalities — we’re here to marvel at the wonder of this healthy seating option.
A saddle chair (or stool), as its name implies, has a seat shaped like a saddle you would put on a horse. Modern saddle chairs are often equipped with a five-legged base (much like a regular office chair), casters, and a pneumatic cylinder for adjusting seat height.
Other than the lack of a backrest and armrests, the main difference between a regular ergonomic office chair and a saddle chair is overall sitting height. A saddle chair raises sitting height eight to twelve inches higher than a standard office chair. This puts the angle between the user’s knees and hips at a very open 135° (as opposed to a 90° angle for traditional chairs). This increased leg/hip angle allows the spine to maintain its natural “s-curve”. What benefits does that have? Read on to find out.
What Are The Benefits Of Using A Saddle Chair?
Perhaps the most important benefits of using a saddle chair are:
- Improved muscle strength
- Back pain relief
- Improved posture
- Prevention of musculoskeletal disorder
Let’s look at each of those individually.
Improved Muscle Strength
One of the main benefits of using a saddle stool is improved muscle strength. More specifically, improved core strength. Without the backrest and armrests to rely on, your body is forced to support itself and keep itself upright using the abdominal and back muscles. But wait, there’s more! A saddle chair also requires you to stabilize your body using your legs. When you sit upright in a saddle chair for even just an hour, it’s essentially like doing an hour’s-worth of plyometric contractions. This increased core and leg activity strengthens muscles and increases muscular endurance. Muscular endurance, in turn, allows your muscles to stay contracted for longer without fatiguing. Both strength and muscular endurance are important aspects of keep the muscles of your back healthy and pain-free.
Back Pain Relief
The increased angle between the knees and the hips, and the activation of the leg muscles to stabilize your body, takes a lot of the pressure off your lower back. This relieves pain in the lower back. But it doesn’t just stop with the lower back.
When the pressure is removed from your lower back, tension in your upper back and neck decreases as well. This can be very beneficial for those who suffer from neck aches and headaches caused by too much time sitting at a desk.
The ergonomics of the saddle chair moves your body into correct postural alignment. That means that your spine is set in its natural s-curve and that your lumbar region is naturally supported by the muscles in your core and back for the entire time that you’re seated. The longer you sit in this correct position, the stronger your muscles will become and the longer they’ll be able to maintain the spine’s correct position. That improved posture increases blood flow to the spine, prevents slouching and hunching, smooths digestion, and even improves circulation to the lower legs.
Musculoskeletal Disorder Prevention
Musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) is a fancy way to describe pain or injuries in the joints, ligaments, muscles, nerves, and tendons throughout your body. MSD can be caused by the following:
- Lifting a heavy object
- Overstretching a muscle
- An excessive impact from an outside source
- Repetitive stress
It’s this last cause that office workers should be most concerned about. That’s because sitting in a chair for extended periods of time is a repetitive stress — enough to cause serious injuries. Saddle chairs reduce this work-related stress and can relieve aches and pain in the wrists, arms, shoulders, lower back, upper back, and neck. Plus, the increased activity of the muscles to support the body’s upright position in a saddle chair can prevent the onset of the musculoskeletal disorder.
How To Start Using A Saddle Chair
Just as there is a profound difference between the appearance of a saddle chair and an ergonomic office chair, there is a profound difference between sitting in them as well. So before you rush out, buy a saddle chair, and expect to sit astride it for six to eight hours the next day, all we can say is, “Whoa pony!”
When you’ve been sitting on conventional chairs and stools for most of your life (as pretty much all of us have), getting used to a saddle chair is going to take time. Remember, you’ll be sitting higher than usual (eight to twelve inches) and engaging both your core and your legs. It may not seem like much, but it can have a major impact on your body from the moment you sit down.
We recommend that you start by sitting in your saddle chair for one hour a day. If you have no problems with that, try two hours the next day. Stay at two hours for two or three days to give your muscles time to adjust. After that, gradually increase your time in the saddle over a period of four weeks. Eventually, you will be able to sit comfortably in your saddle chair for an entire workday. Remember that just because you are in a healthier postural position, doesn’t mean you don’t need to take a break every hour. Get up and move, do some light stretching, or go for a short walk around the office to relieve the tension caused by sitting.
Points To Remember When Buying A Saddle Chair
1) Desk Height
Keep in mind that the increased seat height of a saddle chair means that you’re going to need to elevate your regular desk or purchase an adjustable-height desk. The latter option is the most ideal because you can alternate sitting and standing throughout the day. Standing for an hour or two, followed by sitting for an hour or two, decreases the negative effects that sitting all day can have on your body. And that’s great news for your overall health.
2) Try Before You Buy
The best way to get a feel for the saddle chair, and to know which one is right for you, is to try it before you buy. You’ll know right away whether you can handle a saddle chair but it’s better to do this in a store or showroom like Autonomous’ showrooms in San Francisco, New York City, and Los Angeles. Conventional office furniture stores probably don’t carry adjustable-height desks, and they wouldn’t appreciate you putting full paper boxes under the legs of a regular desk in order to make a saddle chair useful. That’s why an Autonomous showroom is a great place to visit. We can help you find the perfect desk and just the right chair to fit all your needs. Visit us today in one of our three great locations.
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