Xandra says: Good posture is everything. How we sit and stand can affect so many facets of our lives, from our balance and coordination, to how well you breathe… possibly even how long you live!
Part of the Adio Realign Programme teaches people how to sit correctly. As more of us make the move to homeworking, sitting correctly, with the right chair and desk setup is something that we are being left to figure out for ourselves. As a chiropractor, I am hearing from more people who are experiencing back pain.
The steps I will guide you through can be used by anyone who sits for any amount of time, even if it’s in a car or van. Simply becoming more aware of how you sit can help to ensure that you are working to prevent and relieve any back pain.
the #1 myth about sitting properly
… Is the belief that the ‘correct’ way to sit is upright with their hips and knees at 90 degrees, with their feet planted firmly on the floor. This is incorrect!
UK office workers find themselves sitting for an average of 8.9 hours a day. Having the incorrect sitting posture for any sustained period is terrible for your joints and discs.1
the reality is that sitting upright is bad for your health!
Believe it or not, there is not any quantifiable research that states that an upright posture with your knees and hips bent is in any way good for you. There is, however, research that shows that sitting upright places an excessive load on the discs of the lower back.2 This can lead to back pain and varying degrees of wear and tear.
Research also shows that reclining while seated at an angle is much better for the spine than sitting upright.3 What is incredible is that this research has been around for 20 years! That is longer than I have been working as a chiropractor and yet I have never met a patient who has been taught it.
So, let me show you how you can finally sit the correct and comfortable way.
A well-known test of how good (or bad) your posture is, is to look at a picture of yourself taken from the side that shows you standing in your normal position. If you are standing correctly, you should be able to draw a line from your head to your feet that intersects your ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle.
This test seems to have been lost in translation to become advice that you should also sit bolt upright, to maintain the same line through your upper body.
The problem with this, is time. Office workers estimate they sit for at least 54% of their day. 4 Asking the muscles of the body to support that upright posture for hours is too hard for the majority of people, and extremely bad for your joints.
Think about how it feels. Does it feel good? Does it make you feel relaxed? Do you feel loose? No way! Sitting upright is difficult for the human body as your spine isn’t straight. It has three normal curves.
Gravity has a part to play, too. All of your upper body weight is forced through your spine, until it is all resting on the lowest joints. After 10-20 minutes fatigue will likely kick in. You might find yourself leaning on an armrest, creating uneven force on one side of your body, or even worse, you start leaning forward on the desk.
Leaning forwards puts more pressure through your arms, knees, hips and feet. You also put your head in a forward position, increasing the weight of your head on your upper back and rounding your shoulders forwards.
By trying to sit in a way that keeps this ‘perfect posture line,’ you might be spending hours sitting in the wrong position and doing more harm than good. Trying to do what you thought was the right thing can actually create more of a problem.
As an alternative to leaning forward, some people find their body doing the opposite, and slouching back into the chair. In this slouching position, your bottom sits forward on the seat, creating a gap between your back and the chair, so that your lower back slumps into this space.
This posture is even worse than trying to sit upright because it places tension through the joints of your lower back as your weight sinks into them. This is why your mother always told you not to slouch!