How to Spare Your Spine by Kneeling at Your Desk

RJ Burr, DC - Updated on July 12th, 2023

By now most of us have heard that "sitting is the new smoking" or at least understand the harmful effects of sedentarism. If you’re in the market for a standing desk, you’re aware of the adverse effects of prolonged poor postures and ready to make a change. But what if:

  • A standing desk is not feasible in your workplace?
  • You don’t like standing versus sitting?
  • Standing is just as — if not more — uncomfortable as sitting?
  • You feel awkward standing when everyone’s sitting?
  • It’s not worth it to you to spend hundreds of dollars modifying your workspace?

The answer may be a simple one: kneeling at your desk. Half-kneeling, specifically.

Infant and Adult - Kneeling benefits

Whats the History of Kneeling?

You may initially think of half-kneeling as “taking a knee” in sports or the “Tebow.” But half-kneeling has a scientific background.

Half-kneeling is a natural human movement ingrained in our brain’s central nervous system. It’s something we did at about ten months of age as a prerequisite to squatting, standing, and walking.

We had to learn how to control the half-kneeling position before we could graduate to the more difficult functions — no one taught us how to move as babies.

Kneeling Benefits

There are many benefits to kneeling at your desk as an alternative to sitting or standing.

Health Benefits

  • It’s a genuinely natural position for the body
  • Naturally demanding on the core (the narrower the stance, the more demanding it is)
  • One leg down and one leg forward places your spine and pelvis in a much more neutral position than sitting or standing, without having to think about it nor needing correction from a professional
  • Forces you to be more upright, limiting the slumped forward postural stress on your spine
  • Wakes up and improves endurance of muscles you are not used to using
  • Forces you to move more throughout the day
  • You could do a quick set of split-squats right then and there (if you wanted to!)
  • All the same benefits you would expect from standing versus sitting

Other Benefits

  • No need to purchase expensive equipment
  • Naturally at the same eye level as sitting, so you don’t need a new desk
  • You can kneel in a boardroom where it would be inappropriate to stand
  • You can half-kneel in a chair (leg down hangs off side-edge of chair)
  • You can sit or kneel at your desk without needing a height-adjustable desk
Dr. RJ Burr - Kneeling Benefits

What Do I Need to Start Kneeling?

All you need other than a pair of healthy knees is something to support them.

You can use just about anything you can think of to support your knees, like a Theraband board or Airex pad.

The Theraband and Airex pads are great because they are supportive yet comfortable and will maintain their integrity over time. If you’re in a pinch, you could try this off-brand version of the pads.

You can quickly adjust the height of your DIY kneeling pad by stacking a textbook (or two) below the pad to meet your height needs while also securing a comfortable position for your foot and ankle.

It’s typical for your knee to become tired or sore after some time — this is entirely normal. Simply switch sides or take a break from kneeling by standing, going for a stroll, or dare I say it, sitting!

Half-kneeling is not meant to be the holy grail of workplace ergonomics. It’s meant to be a desirable option in an active, daily ergonomic strategy.

I’m Going to Incorporate Kneeling Into My Daily Routine

Great! Take your hand, place it on the back of your opposite shoulder, and give it a few pats — you deserve it, and your body will thank you!

Kneeling Frequently Asked Questions?

Here are the answers to our most frequently asked questions about kneeling.

Is kneeling better than sitting?

Kneeling is a great option if you can't or don't want to use a standing desk. Some people find it physically uncomfortable, or feel awkward if they're the only one kneeling in the office.

What are the benefits of kneeling?

Kneeling uses the muscles of your core, prevents slouching, encourages more movement throughout your day, and reduces all of the risks associated with long periods of inactivity.

Is kneeling good for your back?

Kneeling is good for your back in that you're not slouching in a chair for long periods, which puts a lot of pressure on your vertebrae. Kneeling also activates core muscles, which supports your back.


  1. Do you worry about your knees bothering you with kneeling a whole lot? I worry that it will hurt my knees.

    1. I totally understand! Dr. RJ recommends not overdoing it. Make sure to switch sides, take frequent breaks, and avoid this if it hurts. Let us know how it goes!

  2. I never thought about kneeling. I also don’t think I have seen people do this at the office. Thank you.

    1. Raj, I never did either until Dr. RJ brought it up! Now it’s a part of my routine. My back is thanking me.

  3. YES using a kneeling chair messed up my knees for a long time. (a) cheap knockof, not much knee padding. (b) i am heavy (~200lb) (c) hours and hours sitting without getting up.

  4. I work from home some days and use a meditation cushion with an added pillow to be able to kneel. Luckily in-office we have standing desks.

  5. I like the idea, i think switching sides is beneficial but most time should be spent on both knees at once, not sure why thats avoided here. I use a boxing mat

  6. I use 3 chair pillows and I stand on both of my knees. When I am tired I go for a walk around the apartment..

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