Standing desks are as popular as ever so it is only natural that leaning chairs are headed in the same direction. They are a great tool to help incorporate movement while you are working. They also put you in a different sitting position, which can be beneficial for a lot of people. Their small footprint and good mobility are more features that make standing chairs an attractive product. I made a list where I ranked the best standing chairs from best to worst. In order to make the list, I put in a lot of time with many different standing chair models. I learned a lot through the process and unfortunately, not all of it was good.
I think that it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of getting a new standing desk and some people feel that they need a standing chair to go with it. That’s not always the case and standing chairs are not meant for everyone. This article will highlight the problems that I have encountered with my time testing various standing chairs. If I can offer a good solution to the problem, then I will do so. If any of these problems are red flags for you, then you may want to reconsider getting a standing chair.
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1. Long Adjustment Period
The first problem to be aware of with standing chairs is that there will be an adjustment period while you get used to the new style of sitting and working. You will be putting more pressure on areas that you are not used to and you will be using muscles that normally aren’t used while you are sitting. Some things that I noticed when I started using standing chairs were soreness in my feet, legs, upper back and shoulders. My feet were sore from the added time being on them. A standing chair helps to reduce the pressure but it does not remove it.
Sooner or later, your feet will get tired and sore. My legs also experienced soreness in my hip flexors and shins. This is simply because I was not used to using those muscles so much and that soreness went away after a couple weeks. The final areas that took a bit to adjust were my upper back and shoulders. Not having a backrest and armrests made it much more difficult to remain in the correct posture. When I first started, I had to consciously think about keeping good posture but after a while I would get tired and it became more difficult to maintain the correct posture. The more I used the chairs, the easier it got to keep a good posture.
While the solution to this problem is to simply put in time with the chair so that your body can adjust, there are a few tips I can give to make the process a bit easier. My first tip would be to ease into using the standing chair. Don’t just jump right in and start using the chair for several hours at a time or even several hours in a day. Using it for 20-30 minutes the first few times and increasing the time period from there is a good place to start.
My next tip would be to use the chair at numerous different heights instead of the same height every time. This will reduce the amount of time you are in one specific position and will, therefore, reduce the amount of time spent using that portion of your muscle group.
My final tip would be to do some light stretches every once in a while, to help keep you loose and limber while your body gets used to the new posture.
2. Uncomfortable Seat Designs
One thing that I have found to be consistent with almost all of the standing chairs that I have tested is that they feature unconventional seats. Being unconventional can often be a good thing but unfortunately, almost all of the standing chairs that I have tested have seats that are less comfortable than the seats found on normal office chairs. The size, shape and stiffness are going to be pretty different on standing chairs when compared to normal office chairs.
Standing chair seats are small, often times having less than half the surface area of popular office chairs. Standing chairs are also usually stiff. They often offer little padding with many models having no padding at all. They also typically feature some type of specialized shape. The most common shapes are going to be saddle, convex or contoured. These shapes are all very specific so they are not going to be comfortable for everyone.
The most comfortable seats that I have tested are found on the Swopper and Sitmatic Pogo. They both offer larger seats than almost all other standing chairs. The Swopper features a convex seat shape but since it is larger than other chairs with a convex seat, it does not feel as pronounced. It also has a decent amount of padding. It does not have as much as a normal office chair but it is noticeably softer than most standing chairs. The Pogo has a round shape and really thick molded foam. It is the thickest and softest seat we have seen on a standing chair.
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After months of testing 10+ standing desk chairs, the results are in!
3. Not Suited for Prolonged Hours
Even after spending several months using numerous standing chairs, I have not gotten to a point that I can use any of them for prolonged periods of two hours or more. The seat comfort is a big reason for this. On almost every model I’ve tested, I’ve found the seat to be uncomfortable after an hour or two. They almost all make my bottom go numb. Some after a couple hours and others after as short as 20 minutes.
The next issue that makes t difficult for me to be in a standing chair for more than two hours is the lack of armrests. Armrests not only offer support for your arms, shoulders and upper back but they also allow you to take a break and allow you to lean one way or the other if you get tired. In a standing chair, you cannot take a break like this.
The final aspect that makes it difficult is the lack of a backrest and therefore no lumbar support. Standing chairs are designed to get your hips forward with an open leg angle which will naturally promote a good posture with a straight back. But, holding this position for an extended period of time is difficult to do. A backrest with good lumbar support makes sure you are sitting up straight. It’s important to keep in mind that a standing chair is not going to keep your posture correct automatically. After a couple hours I find myself slouching, which goes against the point of a standing chair.
To extend the amount of time you can sit in your standing chair, I would recommend using an anti-fatigue mat and/or footrest. I have found that my anti-fatigue mat makes a huge difference with my standing desk so I placed it under several standing chair models so that I could have my feet on a softer surface. This really helps a lot to keep your feet and lower legs from getting sore.
The footrest made a bigger difference in my experience, though. I found the footrest to be a fantastic addition to almost every standing chair. The footrest really helps to alleviate the pressure put on your feet, shins and ankles. It also helps to reduce the pressure on your bottom, which will make the seats feel more comfortable.
I would also recommend taking frequent breaks from the chair. Get out the chair every hour or so and take a quick walk around the office, do some stretches or even sit in a regular chair for a bit. I have found that the best way to use a standing chair is as a complementary chair to my normal office chair. Using it for one to two hours per day has given me the best result.
4. Some People May Feel Unstable
Standing chairs are designed to get you moving. Some chairs have more movement than others and there are many ways that manufacturers have gone about designing chairs that can move. Some models will feel less stable than others. This usually applies to wobble chairs that are designed with rounded bases. These types of standing chairs are not firmly planted on the floor. They rock back and forth and there isn’t always a limit to how far they can tilt.
This means that they can tilt far enough for you to fall over or out of the chair. I did not ever feel like I was off-balance or in danger of falling when testing these standing chairs. Other people in our office felt uneasy on some models and I have read many reviews of people feeling less stable than they would like to be on their standing chair.
If you are concerned with getting a standing chair that is stable and feels solid at all times, then I would look into products that have a flat base design that remains in place on the floor at all times. Products like the Mobis II, Muvman, and Pogo will all offer good stability at all heights. I would also stay away from models with casters if you want the most stable product
5. Limited Range of Users
Standing chairs are more catered to people with specific body types than chairs that are built for the masses. Taller individuals will have a limited number of options that go high enough for them to use at full leaning positions. Often times, these taller options will come at an extra cost. Going with products like the Swopper High or Muvman Tall will cost more than the standard Swopper or Muvman chairs.
Standing chairs are also not going to be a good option for heavy people because most of them have weight ratings that are less than 250 lbs. As discussed earlier, the seats on standing chairs are unconventional and small. People with large or boney bottoms may not be comfortable in these types of seats. When you eliminate all of the body types discussed in this section, you are left with a pretty specific type of person that will be well suited for a standing chair.
Some brands do a better job than others with providing wider adjustment ranges, higher weight ratings and different seat designs. I would recommend looking at products from Focal Upright. Their products have large adjustment ranges and 300-pound weight capacities. They do not offer a variety of seat options but they are decently wide and offer a concave design instead of a saddle or rounded top. If you need a big and tall standing desk chair, then the Pogo from Sitmatic is a good option. It has a high seat height range and doesn’t have a weight limit.
6. Lack of Wheels
Wheels, often referred to as “casters”, are not common on standing chairs. Almost all standing chairs feature a base design that stays in the same position while you are using the chair. This is a big change from normal office chairs since they almost always feature wheels. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, until you’re put in a chair that doesn’t roll.
The biggest thing that I miss about not having wheels is that wheels make it very easy to get your chair into the exact position you want it in for typing and tasking. Without wheels, you need to pick up the chair, move it slightly, set it back down and then see if the position is to your liking. Often times this can take me several tries before I find the optimal spot for the chair to be sitting in.
Since the chairs don’t roll, I also have to get up out of the chair to do anything that is out of my reach. This can be a good thing to help increase your movement throughout the day but sometimes it is just tedious. Having to get up out my chair because the stapler is four inches out of my reach doesn’t make me happy because I am moving more. Instead, I am annoyed that I have to get out of my chair and then find my comfortable position again.
Out of all the standing chairs that I have tested, there are only a few models that have wheels the option to them. Two of them are the Swopper and the Back App 2.0. Adding casters will come at a substantial upcharge on both products though.
7. Less Productive
While using a standing chair, I find myself to be less productive. A standing chair does help to keep me more alert, energized and helps to keep me from getting drowsy. But, the time that I am actually in the chair and working is not as productive as I would be in my normal ergonomic chair. I simply cannot work as fast. My normal office chair allows me to get into a position that I can maintain for an extended period of time. Being in one comfortable position allows me to do my tasks very efficiently.
A standing chair is designed to keep you moving constantly. This can be distracting. Not only am I thinking about moving but I find it more difficult to type while I am in motion. I also spend time adjusting the base of the standing chair to the correct position in relation to my desk which is not something I need to do with my normal office chair.
Unfortunately, there is not a simple solution I can offer for this problem. I think that this is something that gets better with time. The more you use standing chairs, the more used to them you will get, but I am not sure that you will ever be as productive in a standing chair as you are in a normal ergonomic office chair.
Standing chairs serve a nice purpose but they are certainly not perfect. They are more of a niche product than the majority of chairs you’ll find in an office setting. I think that it is important to temper your expectations with them. Most people will not be able to just switch to their new standing chair without any hiccups. There will be an adjustment period. I also do not think it is realistic to think that a standing chair will be a good replacement for a chair that you typically sit in for 6+ hours a day.
Because of the problems I’ve experienced when using various standing stools, I thought it was important to share them with you. We want to be as transparent as possible with all of the products that we review and the downsides are important factors that come into most people’s buying decision. The problems on this list will not affect everyone but it should give you a good idea of the things to look out for when considering a standing chair.