Review: The BackStrong chair taught me how to sit and stay

The BackStrong chair is a weird mashup of two different chairs trying to go in separate directions. I’ve been using one for two weeks and I’m still not positive I’m doing it right, but my back hasn’t felt this good in years.

This chair isn’t an upgrade over my current office furniture; it’s a different take on the very idea of what it means to be a chair. It came fully assembled, but I still spent a few minutes looking for an instruction manual – because I wanted some advice on how to sit in it.

In lieu of finding any instructions, I watched a video of Justin Bieber spinning around a room in one. If he can do it, so could I – but it wasn’t easy going to begin with.

The BackStrong chair was designed by a big-time chair designer and a well-credentialed chiropractor — and its Kickstarter page makes a lot of big claims. It’s supposed to relieve stress and cure back pain of all sorts, and even help with things like scoliosis and fatigue. I’m in no position to test most of those claims, but I can report that it helps with back alignment – in fact it requires good posture.

This chair gave me a headache the first hour I used it — not because it’s a bad chair, but because I’m not very good at sitting. After two weeks’ use I now find myself sitting up straight the moment I settle into the weird rocking bottom. The top part of the chair and the seat swivel independently of each other – like a rocking chair for your butt, but not for your back.

Because of this “Sit-In-Motion” technology, the only way to sit still is to maintain perfect posture. I’m not sure if the designers intended to create a bondage device for people who don’t have the discipline to take care of their back problems – but I’m grateful they did.

Being forced to sit up straight has helped my productivity. I can power through an hour of hardcore writing, get up and walk around for a minute, then dive right back into work.

I sleep better, and that alone puts a “sold” tag on it for me. My back doesn’t ache as much at night, and I’m starting to wake up without the sense of dread that comes from knowing I’ll be hunched over a desk staring at a screen all day.

It’s a magnificent chair for desk-jockeys, so long as you don’t mind being forced to sit up straight, act right, and do some work.

What if I told you that 600 years from now Jean Luc Picard will sit in this very chair?

I can’t testify to any amazing medical breakthrough, but I honestly do have less back pain since I’ve been using the BackStrong chair. As someone turning 40 in less than a month: that’s a pretty big deal.

The chair is available here on Kickstarter for $349, but there are still “Super Early Bird” backer spots available at the time of this writing – which puts the price at $249. The campaign has raised over half of its $100,000 goal with 47 days left.

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