Growing up, you probably heard “sit up straight” a lot from parents and teachers. The thing is, no one really took the time to explain exactly how to sit or why it was so important, so there wasn’t much incentive to keep up the good habit.
In this very moment, as you are reading this, how are you sitting? Did you end up shifting your body once you became aware that you may not have been sitting in proper postural alignment?
If we are not mindful as to how we are sitting, standing, or walking, it is easy to slouch and not carry ourselves with proper posture. This is because we have adopted a certain way to sit, stand, and walk subconsciously and have been repeating this habit since we were young.
Sitting properly is especially important because we spend so many hours during the day in this position, whether it be at work, in the car, while eating, or while watching TV.
Basically, unless we are getting some exercise or sleeping, the majority of our time is spent sitting (unless you have a career where you are on your feet all day), and because of this our health can suffer.
That said, it’s never too late to correct the way you sit so that you can develop a new habit. You can start today! By doing so, you can also increase your energy levels, improve your mood, and even prevent injuries.
Here are some key benefits of sitting with good posture:
• Sitting straight increases circulation and blood flow.
• Good posture increases oxygen levels because you enable yourself to take bigger breaths and get more air into your system.
• Your posture is a reflection of how you feel, and if you exhibit great posture, people will perceive you as more confident, happy, and successful – non-verbal communication is everything!
• Help prevent injuries to the most common pain areas: low back, neck, shoulders, wrists. (Improper posture can lead to carpal tunnel, pinched nerves from slouching and tension, and repetitive strain injuries.)
• Less fatigue and strain on your body’s ligaments and muscles.
So, how are you supposed to sit correctly?
• If you are at home, ensure that you have a furniture that is more on the firm side and provides good back support (as compared to something you sink into).
• If you are at work, ensure that you have a quality chair and an ergonomically-friendly workspace.
• Sit as far back as possible in your chair (or other piece of furniture), ensuring that your lower back is making full contact with the back of the chair.
• Make sure that the rest of your body is in the proper alignment to ensure you’re not cutting off your circulation or straining any other joints.
• Make sure your body weight is evenly distributed across your seat.
• Your knees should be bent at a right angle.
• Your feet should be flat on the floor – they should not be dangling and your legs should not be crossed.
• Pull your head, neck, and shoulders back.
• Breathe deep and expand your chest as much as you can to help correct your posture at any given time.
It’s important to note that if your body is not used to sitting with proper posture, it may feel a bit uncomfortable at first. Not to worry – this is your body adjusting and getting used to sitting correctly. This is a key example of how change is good!
You may also want to invest in a back support (lumbar roll) that can help with your posture and make your chair more comfortable. This is also a great addition for your car seats as well.
Speaking of cars, when you are driving, your knees should be at the same level or higher than your hips. Move your seat close to the steering wheel to support the curve of your back. The seat should be close enough to allow your knees to bend and your feet to reach the pedals.
And as they say, sitting is the new smoking, so be sure to get up and move throughout the day – at least once an hour. Plus, it is crucial to incorporate at least 30 minutes of activity into your day, whether that be walking, jogging, or at the gym.
Located in Vancouver and have questions about your posture? Suffering pain from not sitting properly? Our team of Vancouver physiotherapists are here to help! Call us now or book an appointment online!