Two weeks ago we talked about how to encourage a more proper posture when standing. This week we will focus on sitting posture. While this contains many of the same focuses there are key differences to consider when encouraging a good seated posture. I, myself, am constantly trying to develop alternative seated postures that feel good in my body while also encouraging a proper alignment of my body. When sitting for long periods of time it can be very challenging to keep a proper alignment consistently simply because we are not intended to be sitting for long periods of time.
To begin with, you need a good surface to sit on. Ideally this will be a chair that has the leg height the same length as your heel to your knee. This is so that when seated your knees can be bent at a 90 degree angle. If your seat is not this height you want to ensure that you are seated at the forward edge of the chair.
- Just like with standing you want to make sure your feet and knees are aligned properly. Have your feet hip width apart and your feet and knees pointing forward. You may need to adjust your feet or knees more when seated to ensure this is the case. If you are having a hard time keeping your knees together you can practice holding a ball between your knees for short lengths of time. This will strengthen your inner thigh muscles to hold your knees forward.
- The tilt of your hips is the next thing to pay attention to. If you find yourself leaning backwards in your chair, move your bottom forward more and focus on tilting your hips forward more than you normally would. When you first start to sit this way you may notice some pain in your lower back. This is to be expected as you may need to reorganize the alignment of your lower spinal column from many years of improper posture. When your hips are tilted correctly, you should be able to feel your sit bones on your chair. The tilt in your hips should make your body and thighs be close to a 90 degree angle.
- The hardest part of maintaining a seated posture is lengthening your spine. When you are seated and you engage you abdominal muscles your spine will lengthen upwards. It is challenging to keep your muscles engaged in this posture but practicing for short amounts of time will strengthen your muscles over time and make it easier to maintain the engagement. When you work to consistently lengthen your spine you will notice a reduction in pain in your back as pressure is released and your spine itself is allowed to lengthen rather than weighing down on itself. This is a long term process and requires practice. We are all beginners and need to keep practicing every day.
- Just like with standing, we also need to focus on pulling our shoulders backwards and down while lengthening our necks up and slightly back from our normal computer posture. When we are focusing on lengthening our spines, it is very easy to raise our shoulders as well. Try to find a balance between lengthening your spine up and pulling your shoulders down and back. One way to do this is to make sure the desk you are working at has a surface that is very slightly lower than the height of your elbows when sitting with good posture. This will encourage you to lift up so your arms rest on the desk with your elbows bent at slightly more than 90 degrees. And don’t forget to pull your head backwards slightly. It is so easy to allow our necks to move forward when we are looking at a computer screen
I hope you will keep up these practices of standing posture and seated posture. Long term these can both provide great benefits to strengthening your muscles and relieving the cause of many chronic pains. Stick with us for the next few weeks as we look at other exercises to include for these same chronic pains.
Jillian Carnrick, founder and manager of The Dancing Herbalist, has a Masters of Science Degree in Herbal Medicine, practices as a nutritionist, and is a Certified Personal Trainer and Exercise Is Medicine Professional through the American College of Sports Medicine. The Dancing Herbalist posts on this blog every Thursday. For more of our posts, join us on Patreon. Jillian also presents regular live classes in The Dancing Herbalist’s home herbalist courses online. For more learning opportunities or to work one-on-one with Jillian with her wellness and herbal consultations visit The Dancing Herbalist.com.