Who taught you how to sit? I’m guessing nobody, you probably just figured out how to do it by trial and error when you were a baby. You learned how to stay upright and eventually not fall over while resting on your butt; that was a major milestone when you were 8 months old, but you haven’t been given much credit for it later in life, have you? Unfortunately, it’s later in life that you are going to need to be good at it, because chances are you are going to be spending multiple hours a day staring at a computer screen. It is time you learned how to sit properly.
*Movements and postures demonstrated well in the video at the end of this post
Our bodies are built to deal with the vertical load of gravity, but at the same time are inherently lazy when it comes to holding everything up properly. We have a tendency to get engrossed in what is visually in front of us with little regard to how we have positioned our bodies to allow our eyes to see what we want to see. Your brain has a head righting reflex that tries to keep your head looking straight forward in the easiest way possible; unfortunately this usually comes at the expense of your neck and back.
The goal of sitting properly is to effectively vertically stack your torso and head on top of your pelvis and hips in a nice gentle S-curve. The odds of you doing this properly are stacked against you for a few reasons. First, most people have one, two or three of the following: forward head posture, an overly braced lower torso, and/or really flexible or really stiff hips. Second, most chairs are not designed very ergonomically and promote slouching more than support. Read More
The goal of standing is to vertically stack your spine with a gentle S-curve from your tail bone up to the base your skull. If you look at your side profile, you should be able to draw a straight line down from your earlobe, through your shoulder, the mid line of your torso, your hip, knee and ankle.
This is my Pulp Fiction video/post (the video captures the movements you need to learn). I am showing you the ending first, so you know what you are working towards. You may find yourself coming back to this frequently and will progressively find it easier and easier to accomplish. To start with, standing the way I am describing may feel weird and be really hard, but will look a lot more normal than it feels. It will challenge everything you are bad at and your brain’s perception of what is vertical. A mirror to look at your side profile can be an important tool to help you see what I am showing you, but you need to learn to progressively feel it instead of having to see it.
Step 1 is to learn to use your diaphragm to support your torso upward and stop leaning backwards. Imagine there are two half balloons inside the lower part of your ribcage that you can inflate by taking a deep breath into your lower back ribs. This should lengthen and stretch the lower part of your thoracic spine. It may also feel like it tips you forward. This is the part of your back that was accommodating your neck, but we are going to try and stop that. If you look in the mirror, you will likely see that it is your head that is forward and that your trunk is now actually quite vertical instead of tipped backward. Read More
- Chest up, shoulders back and down is the best posture
Most people think of posture as simply the need to keep your chest up and your shoulders back and down. Sounds like a simple feat right?! Then why will most people admit that they think they have bad posture? The answer to that is because good posture is not a simple thing, it is actually a learned, coordinated skill that encompasses the whole body. We are what we repeatedly do and our posture is a reflection of our childhood, our sports, our jobs, our emotions and our attitudes.
There is a continuum of flexibility and mobility among the population. Some people are naturally very loose jointed and hypermobile while others are compressed and stiff as a board. Where you end up on the spectrum seems to be partly genetic and partly personality. The people that fall in the middle or the average/normal people tend to have the least pain and injury problems. The further a person strays in either direction from the average the more and more posture, movement and pain problems they tend to develop. There is not one perfect posture for everybody, but there is a norm that we should all be trying to achieve no matter which side of normal we are on.
“Stiff as a board” “Normal” “Loosey-goosey”
Our bodies are brilliantly built to deal with gravity as a constant downward force, unfortunately most people don’t know how to use their bodies properly or efficiently and end up with muscle imbalances, pain and dysfunction. Posture should be looked at as a life skill not a genetic trait we can blame on our parents. A very basic understanding of anatomy and biomechanics can save people a lot of grief throughout life. Read More
Posted in Blog
, Low Backs
, Mid Backs
Tagged with: ergonomics
, low back pain
, physical therapy