Mobility and fitness people alike have a saying: Sitting is death. Sitting causes muscle tightness and inhibits your ability to reach peak athletic performance. For those that spend 6-8 hours of their day sitting in a chair, some of these may look familiar: back pain, shoulder pain, hip pain, and carpel-tunnel pain after sitting on a plane, in a car, or at your desk.
The problem is, we can’t avoid sitting. It’s become a construct of modern society. So, how do we avoid or reduce the havoc wreaked by extended periods of sitting?
It starts with how you sit. Sitting correctly is one of the most difficult things you will encounter on an everyday basis. Maintaining a rigid spine is the most important part of sitting. To do this, you need to organize yourself while standing and tighten your abs about 20% (2 on a scale of 1-10). While sitting, keeping this 20% tension in your abs is key to maintaining that rigid spine.
Keeping your abs engaged at 20% can be extremely taxing, especially for long periods of time. Research indicates that it’s not muscular strength, but muscular endurance, that dictates loss of spinal position. Example: tweaking your back at the end of a run or a workout because fatigue causes your core to relax and the spine is no longer braced.
In order for it to be possible to maintain a rigid spine while sitting all day is to stand up and restart the position every 10-15 minutes. If you don’t reorganize the spine this often while sitting, your back will round and the core will relax. It may be a pain in the ass, but if you want your body to heal itself and reach performance goals, you have to do the work. Sacrifices have to be made to be the best human being you can be.
Another tip is to not stay in the same seated position while in front of your desk all day. You can kneel down in front of the computer for a little while to open up your hips, walk while on the phone, or stretch yourself out at the desk.
Many people will try to brace their spine while already in the sitting position because they just realized how poor their posture is…we have all done this. Once you have taken a seat, your glutes go on vacation. This adds additional stress to the spine and makes it difficult to stabilize your pelvis in a neutral position. So, failing to address the bracing sequence before sitting down, not keeping the belly tight, or rounding or overextending your spine once seated makes fixing your seated position very difficult. When you try and flatten your back from a seated position, you are more than likely only going from a flexed position to an overextended one.
If you’re hanging out in a position that’s compromising your posture, you will continue to experience the same consequences. No physician, chiropractor, or holistic doctor can permanently remedy your issues that stem from this. That said, getting an ergonomic chair or using some kind of lumbar support will definitely give your lower back a break and put you into a more conducive posture. Keeping that core tensioned while sitting will take lots of practice, but it will soon become instinctive. Give it a go and pony up!
Move to the beat of your own drum.