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Tell me honestly – do you know how important your sitting posture is for your health? Do YOU have a correct posture while sitting or have you ever tried to improve your posture?
I know these questions appear like minor issues but believe me, if you neglect or ignore your posture, it can cause you a lot of discomfort.
If you’re a blogger, computer professional, office worker, or anyone who has to sit at the desk all day, or whose job demands sitting for long periods, then you need to lay emphasis to your sitting posture.
That is because the way you sit directly has an impact on your spine, which if not treated well, can give you a lot of pain.
Backache and lower back pain while sitting can make you feel sick, decrease your work efficiency, and even spoil your mood.
It happened with me recently, when my back started hurting me a lot. I realized that I needed to get a better ergonomic computer chair and relearn the art of sitting properly.
As I did my research, I came across some interesting facts and things that I’d like to share with you all, as like me, I’m sure most of you must be having long sitting hours.
I’d not want you to have any problems with your sitting posture, and I hope the information in this post can help you take timely measures so that you’re free of chronic back pain due to a poor posture.
“It’s not the act of sitting for long periods that causes us pain, it’s the way we position ourselves.” ~ Esther Gokhale
How Do You Know If You Have A Poor Posture
If you sit in any of the below mentioned positions for long periods, then you definitely need to read this post as these are the poor postures that will give you problems – if not now, then perhaps a little later:
• Sitting or slouching in a chair with your back making a “C” shape.
• Sitting on a chair in a semi-sliding position.
• Sitting on a seat that sinks in, which makes your hips at a lower level than your knees.
• Sitting crossed legged and transferring the body weight on one hip.
Do you agree that these are examples of a poor posture?
For that matter, even making extra efforts to sit up straight or forcefully arching the body to make an “S” shape – isn’t the right thing to do.
I know the last point will surprise many of you, because this is what our parents told us to do. Sit straight!
Well, they were not wrong, but for longer durations, that’s a complete NO and you need to read further to know why. 🙂
In addition, if you feel pain with numbness in your hands and legs, and feel pain in the back, hips, buttocks, thighs, knees, or foot – then it’s an indication that your posture isn’t right.
What Are The Problems Of Having A Poor Posture
There can be many problems if your sitting posture isn’t right. If you have a poor posture, it may cause:
• Neck pain
• Back pain
• Repetitive motion injury
• Crack in your vertebrae or stress in the spine
• Torn muscles and muscular tension
• Impact your internal organs, like the lungs
Most of these problems relate to your spine. Therefore, before understanding your posture, you need to know more about the spine.
“One in three people suffer from lower back pain and to sit for long periods of time certainly contributes to this, as our bodies are not designed to be so sedentary.” ~ Rishi Loatey
Improve Your Posture By Understanding Your Spine
I’ll try to make the explanation as less scientific as possible, but do read through because this IS important. 🙂
Did you know that your spinal cord is an extension of your brain? Yes, it is responsible for receiving and sending messages from the brain.
In fact, the spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that runs through the vertebrae of the spinal column, which in turn protects it.
Spine, also known as the backbone, is made up of special bones or vertebrae, stacked one on top of the other. This spinal column has three natural curves, in its upper, middle, and lower parts.
It is important to know that the curve at the neck is inward or forward, the curve at the upper back is outward or backward, while the lumbar curve or the curve at the lower back is inward.
If there’s any stress or strain that reverses any of these three natural curves, you’ll experience discomfort or pain in the associated area.
Once you know these facts, it’ll help you to improve your posture and adopt a good sitting posture.
What Is A Good Sitting Posture
A posture that maintains all the natural back curves is the correct posture.
Your body should be upright against gravity and relaxed so that there is minimum strain on the supporting muscles and ligaments.
Even if you have an ergonomic computer chair, you still need to know the right way of sitting on it.
Here’s a step-by-step guide of what you need to do to have a good sitting posture.
1. When you sit on a chair, ensure that both your feet are flat on the floor, as this helps distribute the weight and balance the body. If you’re short in height, then you can consider using a foot rest.
2. Keep your knee and hip joints at right angles so that your knees are at a little lower or the same level as your hips. Having the knees at a level higher than your hips will cause your back to round up and destroy the natural curves.
3. Push your buttocks and hips back, so that they touch the back of your chair. This is very important; otherwise, you’ll be either slouching or sliding. Also, the upper and lower back should be supported with your chair’s back rest.
4. Elongate your spine to sit tall and upright with your back and neck comfortably straight and your shoulders down, back, and relaxed. This will help maintain the natural curves of the spine.
5. If your chair does not support lumbar curve or the curve at the lower back, then place a small pillow behind your lower back to keep the curve in its natural position.
6. If you don’t have a pillow, even a rolled towel will do to support your lumbar curve. With your hips pressed to the back of the chair, slightly lean forward and place the rolled towel between your back and the chair’s back, at the level of your belt-line.
7. Make sure that all three normal back curves are present while you’re sitting, especially the lumbar curve. You can check that by slipping your hand in the space between your lower back and the chair, and also make sure not to overarch as that may cause strain and spasm.
8. Distribute your body weight and balance it evenly on both hips, more specifically on the sitting or sits bones, which are part of your pelvis and just under the flesh of your butt.
9. Tilt your pelvis forward slightly supporting the lumbar curve such that you’re still sitting on your sits bones but not trying to over arch, which would dislodge you from it.
10. Neither stretch your legs forward, nor cross them, as it may obstruct your circulation and cause the hip to move, and eventually unbalance your body.
11. Place your thighs flat and parallel to the ground so that your lower legs and upper part of the body are at right angles to it.
12. Rest your elbows and forearms by the side of the body, on the chair arm rests, so that they are parallel to the ground, and the arms form a L-shape at the elbow joint. Make sure you lift your shoulders only slightly, if at all.
13. It is good to sit upright at 90 degrees for a short duration. For longer duration, angle the chair back to between 100 and 120 degrees reclining angle, to reduce the stress on the back.
14. Your head should be in line with the body and not slumping forward, so that your chin is in and ears directly over the shoulders, otherwise you’ll strain your neck.
15. Finally, sit relaxed. A correct sitting posture will require the minimum number of muscles so you’re in a most relaxed state by loosening up the rest of the muscles.
You can follow these steps to sit properly on any chair. Of course, if you’re working on a computer then you need to make adjustments to consider the height of the chair, arm rests, and the table.
You may also need to check that any of your body part doesn’t experience stress or strain while using the monitor, mouse, and the keyboard.
When you want to stand, first move to the front of the seat of the chair, and then rise on your legs by straightening them, instead of bending forward at the waist.
Make sure that you keep the normal curves of your back all the time, while sitting and even while standing.
In spite of taking all these measures and precautions to have a proper sitting posture, you shouldn’t sit at a stretch for long periods. Instead stand up, walk, and even do a few simple back exercises every half an hour or so.
I have a hard time with this, as I get so engrossed when I am working and I realize my mistake when my back suddenly starts hurting. That’s when I start moving around or leave work for a few minutes, but I’m going to change this bad habit. 😉
Benefits Of A Good Sitting Posture
A good sitting posture not only saves you from pain and injuries but also increases your energy and stamina, improves circulation, helps you breathe better, and improves your overall health.
Correct posture also helps in:
• Keeping your bones and joints in aligned correctly
• Preventing backache, headache, and muscular spasm
• Decreasing wear and tear of bone joint surfaces
• Preventing repetitive strain and fatigue
• Decreasing the stress on ligaments
• Making you look smart and attractive (this is the best!) 🙂
Final Words –
Remember, to ease your back, neck, and shoulder pain, you need to tilt the top of your pelvis forward, roll your shoulders back, elongate your spine, and straighten your neck.
The position of your pelvis is the key to having a balanced posture.
If you learn the art of sitting correctly in the right position, and arrange your chair and desk in the proper way then you can avoid spinal and other physical injury.
Even prolonged use of a bad chair can create too many problems for you. I hope my new ergonomic computer chair does me good!
You should practice a good sitting posture on a daily basis until it becomes a habit. The good thing is that you can improve your posture at any age!
So, if you haven’t sat in a proper posture all this while, you can always start now.
Here’s a video that can get you started with more interesting information on how to improve your sitting posture.
Dana Davis ~ Healthy Seating Posture to Reduce Back Pain ~ YouTube video
If you have back or neck pain, then exercise, acupuncture, yoga, and chiropractic can help to reduce the pain. However, if the pain persists for more than 3-4 days, you should show yourself to a doctor.
You can also read the post about neck pain by my friend Susan on – how blogging can be a pain in the neck! 😉
What I’ve written in this post is nothing new, but most of you like me, perhaps tend to get so busy in your daily life that you forget about the way you sit and realize it only once the aches and pains start, isn’t it?
Nevertheless, I hope now that you’ve read and understood this post – you’ll start following these steps to improve your posture.
I’m doing my bit; I hope you’ll do yours. 🙂
Over to You –
Did you ever experience problems due to a poor posture? What did you do to improve your sitting posture? Share in the comments.
Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos