Most of us spend more than half of our waking hours in a sitting position. If you are fortunate enough to have the time to exercise at a gym, then you should be spending even more time sitting if you use a stationary bicycle in your workout.
Pain caused from sitting is only one aspect of the numerous stresses the body has to endure. Heart disease and blood flow restrictions, prostate and urinary difficulty, digestive complaints, low energy, and even breathing problems, can all be related directly or indirectly to sitting. Muscle weakness, tight restricted joins causing reduced range of motion and poor posture are all either contributed by sitting or are exacerbated by it. For this reason, anything you can do to minimize, replace, or avoid sitting less is to your benefit.
Unfortunately, I have not found a chair yet that can allow you to sit for hours without the need to take a break and get up. Rather than take this as a flaw of the office design business I would recommend you embrace this limitation to give yourself what your body was designed to do: stand up and move.
You can learn proper posture, but please realize it is physically impossible to maintain sitting for long hours pain free. It just can’t be done and you should not try to force yourself to do it. Your pain will win out every time.
In figure #1 you see the typical posture of someone who has been sitting too long. From her low back to her head, she is creating a stressful condition that will build up over days, weeks, months and years.
Figure #2 shows you how to sit correctly. As you can see, the most efficient posture is when your pelvis, shoulders, and ear are all in alignment above each other. This posture causes the least amount of muscle tension and joint stress. However, you won’t be able to maintain this positions long, but while you are in this posture you will be reducing the stress that the person in Figure #1 is developing graphics structure.
My recommendation is that you incorporate the habit of sitting toward the front of the chair and not against the back of the chair. Realize you can stand for many hours without your back fatiguing or the need to slouch. However, you cannot sit with good posture for more than about 20-30 minutes max. Sitting in an ergonomic chair can be comfortable for this amount of time and then unwittingly your back muscles start to fatigue and you will slouch.
There goes the ergonomic benefit you paid for. From this point on you will be sitting slouched from your low back to your neck. My suggestion is to sit in the best upright unsupported posture you can maintain for as long as you feel comfortable. You will be using your torso muscles to help support you until they get fatigued. Whether it’s 10 or 30 minutes, you are in control and know the limits of your body to maintain this posture. Beyond this, you are stressing yourself out. You get no extra points for pushing yourself, incurring pain and lowering your work efficiency. Take care of yourself – naturally.
- Harvey Markovitz, D.C.