Are Stools Better Than Chairs for Posture? What Study Suggests?

Sitting is one the most common posture adopted by office workers in the developed countries, along with prolonged sitting at both work and leisure time. This sedentary lifestyle is the reason behind many diseases. To reduce this issue, different types of ergonomic chairs have been developed. 

Sitting on a chair plays a significant role in whether it’s improving our posture or not. Manufacturers have developed ergonomic chairs such as kneeling chairs, ergonomic stools, dynamic seats, swoppers, and saddle chairs. All of these chairs have a different effect on our posture.

Are stools better than chairs for posture? Ergonomic stools such as saddle chairs, standard stool promotes upright sitting thus offers better posture than chairs. However, an ergonomic office chair provides a different sitting configuration to achieve the optimal posture.

The ergonomic stool offers an appropriate posture for the lumbopelvic region, whereas the ergonomic office chair helps you maintain the proper posture for prolonged sitting and can reduce intervertebral disc pressure, thus offering good posture. 

Stools and chairs both offer better posture in different ergonomic sitting configurations. However, Both of them have their advantages and disadvantages. 

The sitting posture that matches the natural shape of the spine is known as optimal sitting posture. The chairs promote lordotic lumbar posture, decrease lumbar muscle tension and improve back muscle strength. Some ergonomic stools with height adjustability can achieve the lordotic lumbar posture.

In this article, I am going to explain different types of stools and their optimal posture. Also, I will explain how ergonomic chairs can promote better posture.

What is an optimal sitting posture?

According to a study, If a sitting posture matches the natural shape of the spine and has similar lumbar lordosis as standing posture is known as optimal sitting posture. 

To achieve this lumbar lordosis (natural lumbar curvature of our lower back), many office chair manufacturers provide different ergonomic configurations to match the natural shape. Modern office chair offers an ergonomic backrest design that matches our spine and lumbar support to enhance the lumbar lordosis.

Many studies have shown that lumbar lordosis is better maintained on a kneeling chair due to its sloped seat design. However, after sitting for a while user adopts slumped posture, which decreases lumbar lordosis.

If you are sitting on an ergonomic stool, you can easily change the chair’s height to fit you properly. This stool promotes upright posture, and if you want to actively maintain an upright posture while sitting, it can lead to muscle soreness and fatigue due to the higher levels of muscle activity.

Upright posture better maintains the lumbar lordosis hence offer optimal sitting experience. But maintaining an upright posture is hard, and if you sit for prolonged hours, you can end up adopting the slumped posture instead.

Different stool types and lumbar posture

Stools are very common these days, and you will find different types of stools in the market, such as ergonomic stools, swoppers, saddle, ghopec, etc.

All of these stools have different sitting configurations and different use cases. 

According to this study, the kneeling chair offers the greater lordosis; on the other hand saddle chair offers better posture for the lumbopelvic region. And better cervical region posture was offered by both saddle and swopper chairs.

One issue with the stool is that most of them don’t have lumbar support. Maintaining an upright posture for a longer period can cause muscle soreness and fatigue, and you might develop slumped posture instead. To solve this issue, lumbar support is an optimal solution.

Lumbar support promotes lumbar lordosis and increases the hip angle, which maintains proper posture. So, a stool with lumbar backing will offer better posture and enhance your productivity.

The study found that lumbar posture is most close to neutral on the ghopec chair, whereas the standard stool position was somewhere flexed. Ghopec stool leads to the neutral posture due to increased trunk to thigh angle and active pelvic support.

The stool has an advantage in achieving neutral posture, whereas it has disadvantages as well. 

  • A stool chair can lead to sit/standing position, which can cause leg swelling in prolonged sitting. Sit/stand chair or stool can compress the veins in the thighs and hip areas, which causes poor circulation to the legs.
  • Saddle chairs can cause discomfort on the lower limbs, hips, and buttocks.  
  • General discomfort can increase regarding any chair you use.
  • Stools without lumbar support might encourage slumped posture on prolonged sitting.

Ergonomic office chairs and lumbar posture

Ergonomic office chairs are around for a while now, and they offer great adjustability to achieve optimal posture and maintain it for a prolonged period. As an ergonomic chair comes with a backrest, headrest, armrest, which contributes comfort in a prolonged sitting.

Sitting causes the pelvis to rotate backward, reduce lumbar lordosis, and increase muscle effort and disc pressure. An ergonomic office chair is necessary to decrease disc pressure and enhance lumbar lordosis while sitting in an office chair.

Sitting biomechanics suggests the following configuration to enhance the sitting experience, reduce disc pressure and enhance lumbar lordosis. You will need an ergonomic office chair to get this configuration.

  • You can recline your backrest to 110 – 130 degrees. 
  • Add 1 to 2 cm of lumbar support from the backrest.
  • Adjust your armrests properly to rest your arms without your shoulders being hunched.
  • A seat-bottom posterior inclination of 5 degrees. This feature will automatically be enabled when you recline your chair if your chair has a synchro-tilt mechanism. If you would like to learn about the synchro-tilt mechanism, you can check our article

Ergonomic Office Chair vs. Stools

Modern ergonomic office chairs and stools both promote better sitting posture for the office environment, but which one is better for prolonged sitting as we sit for prolonged hours while working.

Ergonomic Office ChairStools
The ergonomic chair offers backrest, armrest, headrest thus its more comfortable to use for long periods.Some stools offer lower back support.
An ergonomic office chair requires more spaceStools require less space
Some office chair seats can be tilted forward to maintain an upright posture, whereas the backrest offers extra support to relax the back muscles.Stool promotes upright postures to work more actively.  However, lack of back support can lead to slumped posture and muscle fatigue.
Office chairs help you recline or rock.Stools encourage more of active sitting.
Ergonomic office chairs cost more.Stools cost less.
Lumbar support enhances the lumbar lordosis and reduces the disc pressure.Upright posture enhance the lumbar lordosis and reduce disc pressure.

You can achieve better posture on both office chairs and stools. However, maintaining this proper posture is difficult on stools due to the lack of backrest and armrests. Office chairs are more comfortable for prolonged sitting.

If you would like to learn about ergonomic office chairs, you can check our article “What are Ergonomic Office Chairs and When Are They Necessary?“. In this article, we discussed ergonomic office chairs and their features.

If you would like to try out a stool for your posture, you can check this Kaleurrier Ergonomic Saddle Stool that offers backrest and height adjustability. This saddle stool also offers caster wheels to roll around; you can use it in your home office or kitchen. Currently costs $150 and provides one year of warranty.

If you are interested in office chairs which have good value for money, you can check our article “Best Office Chair for Better Posture: A Detailed Guide with Pricing“. In this article, we have discussed different office chairs and their value for money.

Sifatul Shohan

Hi, I'm the co-owner of officechairtrends.com. A blogger and a freelance web developer.  As I work as developer, I have to work for prolonged hours at a desk that's where I developed back pain. I started reseaching on ergonomic chair and gained knowledge throughout the process.  This is the site where I share everything I've learned about office chairs.