I found the perfect office chair for people with back pain – and it’s worth every cent of the nearly S$1,000 price tag


While the price may be eye-popping at first glance, the features of the chair make it a good long-term investment.
Sean Lim/Business Insider

Did you just leave work? Does your body ache?

Most people know that sitting for the entire day is going to wreak havoc on the body, but not everyone can stomach a standing desk or a pilates ball as a seat.

As a fellow office rat, I decided to try out a chair that claims to solve the health issues of sitting in the same position for eight hours a day – to see if it was everything it claimed to be.

Here’s how the trial went:

This is a standard black office chair – as seen in offices worldwide.

I don’t know how much this costs, but probably not in the vicinity of S$1,000.
Rachel Genevieve Chia/Business Insider

This, however, is a S$988 gliding chair – in a lurid shade of lime green.

I had the privilege of using this S$988 chair for 10 glorious days, and can tell you it’s worth the insane price – if you’re a certain type of person.

By this, I mostly mean people with back pain, bad posture, and people who can’t sit still. I’ll elaborate.
Rachel Genevieve Chia/Business Insider

The chair is made by Kokuyo, a Japanese furniture brand founded in 1920.

Its full name is the Kokuyo Ing 360° Gliding Chair.

Like the name suggests, the most unique thing about the chair is its ability to rotate 360 degrees via a special mechanism. 

It was launched in Singapore on Nov 22.

Here’s a look at the mechanism in real life:

Unlike normal chairs, it isn’t locked in a static position. I could move the seat forwards and sideways.
Sean Lim/Business Insider

The company claims this feature largely reduces the strain from sitting in one position for too long (i.e eight hours a day).

It’s pretty much the legit version of rocking on the back legs of classroom chairs, and perfect for people who fidget a lot.
Sean Lim/Business Insider

The chair is also supposed to improve posture – and it did. I could feel myself using my core muscles to sit up, as slouching into the chair inevitably makes it lean backwards. I was forced to keep my hips, waist and back muscles tensed.

The slight muscle use isn’t uncomfortable, and I got used to it in a day or two.

According to Kokuyo, sitting in the chair mimics the hip-strengthening action of sitting on a pilates ball. It did feel very similar.

You can also exercise while working, if your colleagues don’t mind…
Sean Lim/Business Insider

One bone I had to pick was the company’s claim that sitting in the chair for four hours is equivalent to walking 1.5 kilometers. I found this terribly hard to believe, unless you’re doing hip rolls the entire day.

Kokuyo also cited research from Tokyo University that sitting in the chair helped users feel more relaxed and creative. I was skeptical, but rocking in the chair did actually make me feel more relaxed when doing low-concentration tasks, like replying emails.

Also, rocking was just plain fun.

The forward slope of the seat was meant to reduce neck and shoulder pain. It did work somewhat.

With a typical chair, your body leans forward and the chair stays put (left), but with this chair, the seat moves noticeably (right).
Sean Lim/Business Insider

I did notice less strain on my shoulders, but not enough to remove the tension completely. However, the ability to lean forward and back did make typing and viewing documents a lot more comfortable.

People with shoulder pain will probably appreciate this a lot.

Here’s the big catch – it is entirely possible to end up not moving for a long time, despite the fact that it’s supposed to be a moving chair.

If I just sit still and don’t lean to any side, it feels like my regular chair.
Sean Lim/Business Insider

There is a lever on the chair that can lock it in position, meaning it operates just like a regular chair. Even when I didn’t use the lever, it was easy to find a position where I could sit still without the seat moving.

This happened whenever I did high-concentration tasks (like writing), meaning I missed out on the lower back strength training and improved posture.

Nevertheless, the moment when I realised just how comfortable this chair was was when I had to go back to using my regular one.

Normally, I love my regular chair, but the difference after switching feels massive.
Sean Lim/Business Insider

Initially, the eye-watering price put me off recommending this chair. But after sitting in it, it does seem a worthy investment given the potential to banish back pain. It helps that it’s comfortable and fun to use, too.

To be fair, a pilates ball or standing desk would be much more effective at strengthening the core and improving posture, but the thought of having zero chance to rest is intimidating to a lot of people (including me) – so this chair is a good compromise that still allows you to sit down, while reaping the health benefits.

After considering the amount of time I expect to be sitting in my working life (over 1,900 hours a year), the chair does seem worth it, since it’s going to be used almost daily.

The caveat is, you must be the type to enjoy fidgeting throughout the day and don’t mind moving while concentrating. Otherwise, the chair’s expensive rotating feature will be wasted on you.

Read also: