Rethinking design parameters in the search for optimal dynamic seating

J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2015 Apr;19(2):291-303. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2014.07.001. Epub 2014 Jul 22.


Dynamic seating design purports to lessen damage incurred during sedentary occupations by increasing sitter movement while modifying muscle activity. Dynamic sitting is currently defined by O'Sullivan et al. ( 2013a) as relating to 'the increased motion in sitting which is facilitated by the use of specific chairs or equipment' (p. 628). Yet the evidence is conflicting that dynamic seating creates variation in the sitter's lumbar posture or muscle activity with the overall consensus being that current dynamic seating design fails to fulfill its goals. Research is needed to determine if a new generation of chairs requiring active sitter involvement fulfills the goals of dynamic seating and aids cardio/metabolic health. This paper summarises the pursuit of knowledge regarding optimal seated spinal posture and seating design. Four new forms of dynamic seating encouraging active sitting are discussed. These are 1) The Core-flex with a split seatpan to facilitate a walking action while seated 2) the Duo balans requiring body action to create rocking 3) the Back App and 4) Locus pedestal stools both using the sitter's legs to drive movement. Unsubstantiated claims made by the designers of these new forms of dynamic seating are outlined. Avenues of research are suggested to validate designer claims and investigate whether these designs fulfill the goals of dynamic seating and assist cardio/metabolic health. Should these claims be efficacious then a new definition of dynamic sitting is suggested; 'Sitting in which the action is provided by the sitter, while the dynamic mechanism of the chair accommodates that action'.

Keywords: Advising neutral lumbar posture; Defining dynamic sitting; Designing dynamic seating.

MeSH terms

  • Ergonomics*
  • Humans
  • Interior Design and Furnishings / methods*
  • Low Back Pain / physiopathology*
  • Low Back Pain / prevention & control*
  • Movement / physiology
  • Posture / physiology*