What Is a Standing Desk Chair?

The LeanRite Elite standing desk chair

The LeanRite Elite standing desk chair

A proper standing desk chair is a super adjustable, multi-function chair designed specifically to make working at a standing desk comfortable and energizing, as intended. Its two basic components are a sturdy seat post that is height-adjustable and a stress-absorbing seat that is angle-adjustable — together they support the body in numerous positions sit to stand.

Upon first impression, they can be odd-looking or even off-putting and make one wonder, How in the heck is that thing going to make my body feel better than just standing? And is it even stable? Where’s the back? And why do some cost more than others? And these concerns are completely valid, given the chair’s aesthetic. Your typical standing desk chair — also called a perching stool, ergonomic stool, standing height stool, height adjustable stool, leaning stool or active stool — looks a whole lot less like a traditional office chair and more like something from the future. And it is just that! It’s futuristic-looking for the sole reason that it’s a radical and new breed of chair designed for a radical new purpose.

The standing desk chair: a radical new breed of chair

And how exactly is this new breed of chair different? Traditional office chairs are designed to achieve a singular goal of comfort. But it's not news to anybody who works at a computer that sitting for extended periods of time compromises your health in the long run and, more immediately, feels terrible — locking up the hips, impeding circulation and causing numbness, tingling and fatigue, weakening muscles, creating bad posture, and depleting energy levels.

A standing desk chair, on the other hand, is designed with a more nuanced goal of encouraging and supporting movement through positions, because it supports the body in a variety of working postures, sit to stand. It is built for those who work at a standing desk and want to feel and think better while working, with greater energy. A quality unit is designed by experts in orthopedic medicine, ergonomics, and physical therapy who understand how the body works, and what kind of support it needs.

Core benefits of a standing desk chair

  1. Provides stable support to the body through numerous comfortable, healthy, and energizing working postures and positions

  2. Encourages and supports movement throughout the day

  3. Prevents fatigue

Granted, this all just sounds like abstract jargon. So we’ll walk you through how a quality standing desk chair actually works in effectively unleashing these benefits, as demonstrated by users of our own LeanRite Elite. You’ll see quickly how it’s an incredible tool for sustaining comfortable, energized work at your standing or adjustable-height desk or desk converter.

1. How a standing desk chair provides stable support through numerous comfortable, healthy, and energizing postures

In the following video, Joanna Sevim, Doctor of Physical Therapy, explains how the LeanRite adjusts to support you — how the integrated standing mat distributes your body’s weight to reduce strain on your joints, while the chair puts your pelvis into neutral spine, allowing proper orthopedic posture through sit, stand, lean, and perch positions.

She goes into detail about how the unique shape of the LeanRite’s seat supports this healthy spinal alignment, pulling your lumbar spine into a perfect lordotic curve, allowing you to open your chest for a deeper, restorative breathing pattern.

And though the product looks like it might topple over when used, Dr. Sevim emphasizes that it’s built with a stable platform and feels secure.

The LeanRite is ideal because it allows you to change positions throughout the day, which is natural for human beings.-Dr. Joanna Sevim

So what product specs do you want to look for in a standing desk chair, to access these comfortable, energizing postures?

  • Stable, secure platform

  • Adjustable-height post to support your body at comfortable angles and heights

  • Adjustable angle of chair’s seat to achieve postural alignment, and opening of hips

2. How a standing desk chair encourages and supports movement over the course of the work day

Movement is the remedy to the pains of sedentary, desk-bound work. But movement is difficult to sustain when bound to a computer. A versatile standing desk chair breaks up this inertia of modern work by giving the user the freedom to work in numerous positions throughout the day, comfortably.

The LeanRite is helpful for me especially because I am someone who needs to be in constant motion.-Katelin Rodriguez, owner of the POW! Gym Chicago

The key thing to look for is ease of adjustability and maneuverability with your chosen chair, so moving to the ‘next’ position isn’t a hassle, but instead a seamless, easy adjustment. As an example, our LeanRite’s height can be adjusted both from a lever on the back and foot pedal within the front side of the chair post, accessible from a standing position. Because adjusting from stand to sit and every position in between should be easy.

Maneuverability can also be found with a chair that can be tilted back and rolled around easily as needed.

What to look for in your chair, for the adjustability and maneuverability that unlocks movement at the desk:

  • Foot pedal to adjust chair’s height easily, by foot

  • Roller within base of chair to maneuver it around

  • Gas spring cylinders that easily raise the seat from a sitting position to a leaning or perch position

  • Accessible levers for easy adjustability of height of chair post and angle of chair seat

What I like about the LeanRite is that as I move and change throughout the day, it moves and changes with me-Matt Mroczek of Scrub30

How a standing desk chair prevents fatigue in the body

The primary culprit for fatigue in the body from computer work is a lack of movement — or sedentary, static postures held for hours at a time. A standing desk chair can beat static posture and thus reduce fatigue by sustaining imperceptible micro-movements in the body — i.e. active, engaged muscles. Muscle engagement keeps the blood flowing, preventing that fatigue — which both help the body feel better, and the mind think better.

What to look for in your standing desk chair for unlocking that micro-movement in the body:

  • Integrated anti-fatigue mat

  • Gas spring cylinders inside the seat post to absorb the body's weight and provide a subtle bouncing effect (preventing static muscles)

  • Coiled springs beneath the seat of the chair to allow active seating movement, subtle rocking, or fidgeting as desired

  • Lumbar support for a comfortable standing position

An anti-fatigue mat is important because it works by three means: distributing the weight in the body, reducing stress,  providing comfortable cushion to the feet, and actively engaging the muscles in the legs as they counteract the cushion of the mat to maintain stability.

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And coiled springs within the seat function in a similar way that an anti-fatigue mat does: absorbing the stress of your body’s weight while providing a little bounce in the body that prevents static muscles.

I love the flexibility of the LeanRite. it just keeps me fresh and focused as I move around from sitting to standing or leaning or perching throughout the day.-Kim Moldofsky, publisher of TheMakerMom and STEMKidsChicago

Lastly, lumbar support is critical with a standing desk chair because it allows a comfortable, supported standing posture. And standing for periods of the day is necessary for healthy engagement of core muscles — a critical relief for and protection against back pain.

I'm free to do whatever work I can. I'm not in a forward flexed position — I'm standing up, I'm doing a little core work, I'm burning calories, and I'm doing my work safely and correctly-Fitness coach, professional athlete, and ex-paratrooper Patrick Murphy of Pulse Fitness in Chicago

The beautiful thing about the body is that it will tell you when you need to change positions — in the form of fatigue, stiffness, pain, and overall discomfort. And the beautiful thing about a quality standing desk chair is that it adjusts to support you through each position, sit to stand, as you change positions to find greater comfort and the right support. In that sense, it can be considered the obvious companion to a standing desk, if feeling, thinking, and working better is the ultimate goal.