Stool Vs. Chair: Which is Better for your Posture?

How do you know if an ergonomic stool or chair is the best option for you? The answer may astound you!

There are numerous reasons to invest in either an ergonomic chair or an ergonomic stool, but the consequences will be significantly different for both of them.

So, which is better for your posture? Stool or chair?

In general, ergonomic stools, compared to office chairs, are better for correcting posture through active sitting and neutral spine positioning. Chairs do not encourage active sitting; prolonged sitting in a chair can increase fatigue and stress.

Stool vs chair (Source: Wikipedia)

If you are confused about choosing an ergonomic chair or stool for your office, read on to learn its pros and cons.

This article will also guide you on the proper ways to sit on chairs and stools and provide you with some of the best ergonomic chairs and stools.

Stool Vs. Chair: Which is Better for Posture?

Many arguments and research regarding an ergonomic chair and a stool as the best choice for posture. Both, however, provide postural benefits.

Ergonomic chairs offer comfort and support features like headrests and armrests. However, stools work the best for posture correction.

Ergonomic stools provide lumbopelvic region support. Meanwhile, chairs are suitable for you if you work long hours.

stool vs chair
Wooden stool (Source: Unsplash)

They support the lordotic lumbar posture, which can be achieved using height-adjustable stools.

Refer to the table below to find out the differences between an ergonomic chair and a stool.

Ergonomic ChairErgonomic Stool
Includes ergonomic features like backrest, armrest, headrest, height adjustable etc.Some stools include lower back support.
Lacks other ergonomic features like armrest, headrest.
It can be height adjustable.
They can have three to five legs.
They have four legs.
Usually takes up more space.Takes up minimal space.
It is more comfortable with features like recline and rock.It focuses on active sitting.
They are usually more expensive.They are cheaper than chairs.
Costs between $150-$2000Costs between $150-$1300
Doesn't promote active sittingPromotes active sitting
Keeps your back straight at 90 degrees angle with your legs.Keeps your back in its natural curve position.

Are Stools Better for your Posture?

Stools correct your posture without the use of any ergonomic supports. So, using stools is better for your posture in the long run.

There are different types of stool that help you in different ways. Here are some of the types of stools and their functions.

Types of Ergonomic Stools

Generally, stools do not have arms or back and have only a single seat.

However, you can also find stools with ergonomic features like swoppers, saddle, and ghopec.

1. Saddle Stool

Sadde stools are shaped like a saddle, putting you in a forward-leaning position where your hips and knees bend at 135 degrees.

These stools are best for muscle activation. The saddle in saddle stool rotates your pelvis to support the natural spine curve and provides easy movement.

According to the research, saddle stools are effective in preserving the lumbar curve.

Ergonomic Saddle Stool
Ergonomic Saddle Stool (Source: Amazon)

2. Ghopec Stool

Research on the effects of using different types of stools on muscle activity and lumbar posture showed that the Ghopec stool was the best compared to saddle and standard stool for maintaining neutral lumbar posture.

Ergonomic Ghopec Stool
Ergonomic Ghopec Stool (Source: Indes)

3. Wobble Stool

Wobble stool works best for active sitting. It engages the leg and hip muscles to maintain an upright posture.

For instance,  the height-adjustable feature of the FLEXISPOT Wobble Stool allows you to switch between sitting and standing while engaging your core muscles.

Wobble stools in different colors
Wobble stools in different colors (Source: Amazon)

Advantages of Sitting on the Ergonomic Stool

Office chairs have been so commonly used that using a stool might sound like a bizarre idea.

However, there are various advantages to sitting on a stool like a posture correction, back pain reduction, etc.

1. Active Sitting for Posture Improvement

Using a comfortable chair with back support seems like a comfortable idea. However, the comfort and support will not correct your slouching posture.

Active sitting is a way of sitting using an unstable surface which increases trunk movement resulting in an upright posture.

In fact, stools with uneven postures promote active sitting, keeping you alert and correcting your slouching habit through active sitting.

stool vs chair
Active sitting (Source: Wikipedia)

2. Neutral Spine Position

Stools promote a natural spine position by maintaining the spine’s natural curve.

Sitting in a natural position will remove the pressure on your muscles and back, preventing chronic back pain.

Ergonomic chairs support your back with back support which keeps your back straight. On the other hand, a stool will force you to straighten your back yourself, correcting your slouching habit.

Slouching while working on the computer
Slouching while working on the computer (Source: Pixabay)

It also makes you able to withhold the upright position by engaging your core muscles and making them stronger.

Secondly, Stools seat you at elevation compared to ordinary chairs; slant your thighs downwards.

This moves your lower back into a neutral posture which improves your posture and reduces pain.

2. Burn More Calories

You are likely to burn fewer calories when you are stuck working for hours in your office, leaving you too tired to exercise.

You can burn calories while working in your office using active sitting methods. Active sitting allowed by the stools helps you burn calories by engaging your muscles.

According to the research published in the International Journal of Occupational Safety and Ergonomics, using an active sitting stool showed greater caloric expenditure per minute among participants compared to those using a standard chair.

3. Reduces Back Pain

Most work-induced back pain is due to pressure buildup in the spine and back while sitting.

The neutral position achieved while using a stool will gradually decrease your back pain by correcting your posture through active sitting.

Stools such as saddle stools allow you to sit with forwarding tilt of the seat pan.

According to the research, this position helps maintain a lumbar lordosis sitting posture, which is a good posture for reducing pressure and pain from the lower back.

Sitting in a forward position in saddle stool
Sitting in a forward position in saddle stool (Source: 2xHome)

Read about; 10 Best Office Chair Alternatives for Lower Back Pain.

4. Strengthens Core Muscles

Stools do not have any back or arm support. The design is not to add to your discomfort but to help you strengthen your core muscles.

According to Senior Ergonomist Sukhi Assee, stools help strengthen core muscles by working the abdominal, shoulder, and lateral muscles.

You are forced to maintain an upright structure while using a stool. By correcting your posture constantly, your back muscles will be stronger.

Back muscles (Source: Wikipedia)

Disadvantages of Sitting on the Ergonomic Stool

Stools can correct your posture, and some people opt for ergonomic chairs instead when presented with the benefits.

So, what can be the reason behind it? Let’s find out!

1. Increased Slouch

Sitting on the stool with your thighs slanted can correct your posture. However, sitting this way for an extended time can increase slouching.

Lumbar lordosis is maintained when sitting in an optimum position. However, your body limits keeping your back upright, so you slouch more.

However, there are stools with lumbar support to solve this problem.

Slouching while working on the Computer
Slouching while working on the Computer (Source: Wikipedia)
2. Increased Fatigue and Muscle Soreness

Sitting on the stool encourages a neutral posture by not providing support.

However, if you already have a habit of slouching, you will need to work your muscles more to stay upright.

Consequently, you might be tired, and your muscles can be sore initially. Saddle stools can also increase discomfort in your hips and limbs.

A survey conducted among students for comparison between an office chair and an active stool showed that students experienced higher discomfort using an active stool than using office chairs.

3. Poor Leg Circulation

You are in a sit/stand position while using a high stool which can cause leg swelling.

The legs swell due to compression of the veins in the thighs and hips, which cuts off the circulation in your legs, leading to fluid accumulation.

This generally occurs when you sit on a stool that is too high for your height.

The problem is more common because most of the non height adjustable stools are built high which is not suitable for shorter people.

Swelling in legs
A swollen foot and ankle and a normal foot.
(Source: iStock)

Are your feet swelling when sitting in an office chair? If yes then you may be intersted in reading about the methods to prevent feet swelling when sittiing in an office chair.

4. Problems for Short People

Most saddle chairs are built for tall people, with 19.5 inches being the shortest saddle chair available. You will have problems using a saddle stool if you are less than 5.2 feet.

Usually, stools are high so you might face difficulties sitting and getting off them.

Although, the availability of height-adjustable stools like the Height adjustable Wobble Stool eliminates the problem.

Height adjustable wobble stool
Height adjustable wobble stool (Source: Amazon)

If the stool is not height-adjustable and you are short, it can cause your feet to dangle which leads to swelling of the feet due to fluid accumulation.

Tips to Sit on a Stool Properly

Although sitting on a stool is not as comfortable as sitting on a chair, you can cut the discomfort if you sit correctly.

Here are some of the best ways to sit on a stool.

  • Keep your seating position elevated with knees below the hip level.
  • Sit with your elbows in an L shape and your forearms perpendicular to your elbows.
  • While sitting on a stool, do not sit on the edge; move to the back with your back aligned with the back end of the chair.
  • Take breaks; walk around after every hour.
  • Balance your weight at your hips.
  • Keep your ankles in front of your knees.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed and rest your feet on the ground while working.
  • Do not leave your feet dangling in any condition.
  • Also, do not sit in a crossed-leg position even if it feels comfortable.
stool vs chair
Adjustable Height Active Learning Stool (Source: Amazon)

Best Ergonomic Stools in 2022

Stools are no longer wooden kitchen pieces, there are many types of ergonomic stools with features that aid ergonomic sitting.

Here are some of the season’s best.

Best Ergonomic StoolFeaturesProduct Image
Gaiam Balance Ball Chair StoolBalance ball stool encourages active sitting.

Stable 360-degree swivel base allows for easy and free movement.
Boss Office Products Be Well Medical Spa StoolSix-inch height adjustment range from 20.5 to 26.5 inches.

Dual wheel casters allow for easy movement.
Adjustable Height Active Learning Stool Height adjusts from 18.5 to 28”.

Lightweight design for easy mobility and storage.
Flash Furniture Black Ergonomic StoolHeight adjustment from 17.5 to 21.5”.

Comes with a foot ring for added comfort.

Are Ergonomic Chairs Good for Your Posture?

When comparing stool vs. chair, Ergonomic chairs offer ergonomic benefits like a backrest, armrest, headrest, etc.

While sitting on a regular chair, your pelvis is rotated, reducing the lumbar lordosis and increasing disc pressure.

Type of Ergonomic Chairs

There are ergonomic chairs of different types like Synchro-tilt task chairs, ergonomic office chairs, gaming chairs, etc.

Types of Ergonomic ChairFeatures
High back Ergonomic chairHeight of the back up to the shoulders.
Lumbar adjustable

Provides backrest recline can be locked several reclined positions or in upright position
Low back ergonomic chairErgonomic side bolsters, integrated headrest, and padded armrests.

Individually wrapped coil-springs inside generously padded seating provides long lasting seating comfort.
Mid back Ergonomic chairVentilated curved back provides lumbar support.

Adjustable back height, back angle adjustments with infinite lock positions.
Ergonomic chair without armrestExtra thick seat cushion combines.

Fully adjustable seat height and seat back.
Ergonomic gaming chairFully adjustable recline, tilt, and height.

High Density Foam Cushions

Supports a healthy sitting posture so you can game for hours in comfort
Synchro-tilt task chairsTension control lets you adjust the amount of effort needed to recline comfortably.

Fully Adjustable Arms adjust

Advantages of Sitting in an Ergonomic chair

Ergonomic chairs contain ergonomic features, making them more functional and providing more support to your body.

1. Provides Optimal Sitting Posture

Ergonomic chairs come with a backrest, and some of the chairs come with back support that matches the spine’s natural curvature.

Research states that an optimal position is when the natural spine posture and lumbar lordosis when sitting are matched with the standing posture.

Back support in the chair supports the lumbar region of the spine which helps you sit optimally with a straight back.

2. Provides Adjustable Features

Ergonomic chairs include headrests and armrests. The office chairs like  Gabrylly Ergonomic Mesh Chair include a headrest. Headrests are necessary for better head and shoulder posture.

According to research, headrests maintain a horizontal head position in a reclined position. It supports the head and neck, so we do not slouch.

Upright Sitting Position in an Office Chair with Headrest
Upright Sitting Position in an Office Chair with Headrest (Source: Amazon)

Armrests are also essential for keeping muscles relaxed and optimally positioned.

According to the research, it also supports one’s upper body weight and reduces the seating force.

Ergonomic chairs usually have more adjustable features like seat pan tilt, adjustable height feature, backrest tilt, etc.

These adjustability features make working comfortable, and you can adjust the seat according to your height and body.

3. Enhanced Productivity

Employees spend the majority of their office hours sitting on their chairs. They must have a comfy chair in order to be productive at work.

The work productivity is increased by increased comfort due to features like headrest, backrest, etc.

Also, prevention of issues like back pain, neck pain, and slip discs allows workers to focus on their work.

Research done on ergonomic work interventions showed that combing the use of ergonomic training along with the use of an ergonomic chair improves work productivity.

Overall productivity
Overall productivity (Source: Pixabay)

Similarly, another research focuses on the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders and correct posture as a factor for productivity improvement.

Research conducted among female office workers shows that using an ergonomic chair with adjustable features can improve work productivity by 40%.

4. Comfortable to Use

Ergonomic chairs are usually more comfortable than stools. So, it can also be used for relaxation.

The ergonomic chairs have headrests, armrests, and padded backing to lean back and relax. Some of the chairs also include reclining features.

The adjustable features are also easy to operate with easy-to-spin knobs or levers.

stool vs chair
Sitting on a chair (Source: Unsplash)

5. Reduces Pressure on Hips and Body Pain

Pressure can build up in your hips when sitting on the office chair with a 90-degree knee bend.

To reduce the pressure on your hips, you should slightly tilt your seat pan forward. However, normal office chairs do not have this feature.

Ergonomic chairs with seat pan tilt allow you to tilt your seat pan forward about 10 degrees allowing your knees to bend slightly above 90 degrees which depressurizes your hip joints.

Sitting in an upright position
Sitting in an Upright Position (Source: Pixabay)

According to the research, using the forward seat tilt feature reduces hip flexion which can cause Lumbar kyphosis.

An ergonomic chair has many features like a backrest, armrest, headrests, etc.

Those features work together to reduce body pains like neck, back, and shoulder pain by providing support.

According to the research, using an ergonomic chair reduces the pain intensity as compared to using chairs with fewer ergonomic features.

Disadvantages of Sitting in an Ergonomic Chair

Ergonomic chairs do have advantages for health. However, it can be bad for the back and lead to a sedentary lifestyle.

1. Bad for Back

You sit in an office chair with your elbows, hips, and knees at a 90-degree angle, which is the ideal sitting position.

However, this position does not maintain the natural back position.

The lumbar support feature in office chairs supports the back by pushing against the back. However, it does not correct your posture itself.

Long durations of sitting in an office chair might induce low back pain.

The primary reason for this is that sitting in an office chair is a static posture that increases tension in the back, shoulders, arms, and legs. It can add significant pressure to the back muscles and spinal discs.

Incorrect sitting posture can damage spinal structures over time and can worsen back pain.

A woman experiencing back pain
A woman experiencing back pain (Source: pixabay)

2. Risk of a Sedentary Lifestyle

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four Americans sits for more than eight hours daily. This increases the sedentary lifestyle.

A sedentary lifestyle essentially means an inactive lifestyle. Sitting on an ergonomic chair is comfortable. Increased comfort can also make you lazy.

You might spend long hours on the chair without taking breaks, increasing your disc and spine pressure. It can also lead to reduced circulation.

3. Office Chairs can Explode

Office chairs do not normally explode but, as rare as it gets, sometimes the gas cylinders used in chair height adjustment can explode.

A 14-year-old boy in China lost his life in 2009 after the pneumatic gas cylinder in an office chair exploded.

Normally, office chairs use compressed nitrogen gas in their gas cylinders, but some low-quality cheap chairs use pressurized air instead of any gas.

The gas cylinder can also explode if its piston is loose or chamber seals are broken.

Pneumatic Gas Cylinders used in chair lift (Source: Wikipedia)

Tips for Sitting on an Ergonomic Chair

  • Adjust the chair’s height to lay flat on the ground.
  • If your chair has armrests, rest your arms on the armrest with your shoulders relaxed.
  • Sit with your hips at the back of the chair seat.
  • If your chair has a forward seat pan tilt option, adjust the seat pan to 20 to 30 degrees forward.
  • Recline the back of the chair to 100 to 110 degrees.
stool vs chair
Correct sitting posture (Source: Wikipedia)

Best Ergonomic Chairs in 2022

Here are some of the best ergonomic office chairs.

Best Ergonomic ChiarsFeaturesProduct Image
Herman Miller Aeron Ergonomic ChairBest overall
Adjustable seat height, armrests, seat depth, and tilt.
Modway EEI-757-BLK Articulate Ergonomic Mesh Office ChairBest budget
Adjustable seat height, armrests, and tilt.
OFM, Plush High-Back Microfiber Office ChairGood lumbar support padded fixed arms and headrest for extra upper body support.
Noblechairs ICON Gaming Chair Adjustable arm rests
can be reclined up to 135 degrees.

The Bottom Line

The results of a rigorous comparison demonstrate that stools are ideal for improving posture as they encourage active sitting, slope your thighs downwards for less lumbar and pelvic pain, and place your spine in a natural curve rather than slouching.

To maximize comfort and avoid pain, you must sit ergonomically with the proper posture regardless of whether you use an ergonomic chair or stool.

If you feel discomfort while using stools, the suitable type might not fit you, so explore different kinds of stools to choose the best one for you.

Whatever you decide, always maintain a healthy work habit by taking the necessary steps, such as taking a break at for at least once every hour.

Related article; What should be the ideal height of an office chair?

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