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The Balans Chair and Its Semi-kneeling Position: An Ergonomic Comparison with the Conventional Sitting Position

LANDER, CHRISTOPHER, MD; KORBON, GREGG A., MD; DeGOOD, DOUGLAS E., PhD; ROWLINGSON, JOHN C., MD

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Recently, the Balans chair has been introduced with claims that, because of its semi-kneeling position, individuals will experience decreased low-back pain (LBP) as well as improvement in circulation. This study investigated the validity of these claims. Twenty healthy subjects were randomly assigned to one of two groups. Group 1 subjects sat in the Balans chair for a 30-minute study period and then sat in a conventional office chair for an additional 30-minute period. Group 2 subjects were studied in the reverse seating order. Parameters studied were cervical and lumbar paraspinous surface EMG, and pedal cutaneous blood flow measured by laser-Doppler flowimetry. In addition, a questionnaire comparing the comfort of the two chairs was completed at the end of the study session. Comfort ratings showed an overall preference for the conventional chair. Increased cervical (P = .004) and lumbar muscle EMG measurements were noted after sitting in the Balans chair. Pedal cutaneous blood flow was increased by 15% in the Balans chair (P = .001). The data do not support the manufacturer's claim that the Balans chair is likely to decrease complaints of LBP.

Department of Anesthesiology, Pain Management Center, University of Virginia Medical Center, Charlottesville, Virginia.

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