The Correct Sitting Posture To Avoid Back Pains And Muscle Stiffness 

We all spend lot of time sitting, some more than others and although sitting down for a few minutes won't cause you too much trouble, however the longer you sit down, the harder it becomes for your body to hold yourself up or keep you in a comfortable position.

Primarily, we are meant to stand upright and move about which helps with the circulation of our blood and we are not designed to sit down for long periods of time. 

Sitting down is fine to give us a brief rest and help us restore some energy, but most experts now agree that sitting down for long periods of time can actually be bad for you. 

However, these days especially with all the technology and TV available more and more people are finding themselves sitting down in fixed stationary and sedentary positions for long periods of time.

Our bodies are not built to sit down for long duration's of time and even if you have a good sitting posture, it can still be hard to keep the back stacked in an upright position and it's not long before the back starts to curve into a C shape which adds uneven pressure to the spine as well as putting more workload onto the muscles.

Some people try to compensate for this and they try to sit up straight, but this causes them to curve their back the other way which increases tension in the shoulders and back and eventually they flop back down back into a curve back and rounded shoulders.

When your body curves into a hunched shape it will compress your inner organs and it will shrink your chest capacity, which will restrict your lung and breathing capacity as your lungs will not have the full expansion range that they need for your body to be at its functional best.

When your lungs cannot expand to their fullest, this then has other knock on effects because your lungs will not be able to supply the full amount of oxygen levels which will then decrease the amount of oxygen into your blood stream.

Slumping when sitting can also weaken your postural muscles, causes unnecessary tension, headaches and strain, plus it can put added strain on your back and even push your disc out of place.

It is also believed that the extra strain you put on your body when sitting down for long periods can also affect your blood circulation and your heart has to work harder to compensate for the compressed body.

Because your brain relies on a good supply of oxygen and blood flow, sitting down, especially if your sitting poorly can affect your focus and concentration levels.

Recent research has indicated that sitting down for lengthy periods can be responsible for many other health related problems. 

If you do have to sit down a lot make sure you sit upright, but relaxed and avoid trying to sit up straight as sitting up straight causes excessive tension in the back. As soon as you tell someone to sit up straight they lift up their chests and pull up their bodies.

When sitting your spine should be stacked upright, but you should feel comfortable, aligned and balanced and you should not try to physically hold yourself up, let your chair do all the supporting work.

Do not try to sit up straight

We spend a large part of our time sitting down, the most common way of sitting is people allow their back to curve in a C type shape, where they hunch their shoulders, let their head drop forwards too far which will cause the spine to curve even more.

When they realize that this in not right, especially as it will feel uncomfortable and painful, they try to sit up straight in what they think is good posture, where they curve their spine the other way which soon puts a lot of tension on the lower back, which will very quickly result in muscle stiffness.

Although you should not allow yourself to collapse in your chair, neither should you try to sit up to attention, always sit comfortably, there should be no need to hold yourself up, just allow your chair to support you and do all the work.

The video below will show you how to shift into the correct sitting posture, in-between slouching and sitting up too straight and tense.



The first step to good sitting posture is to stand aligned and balanced 

Before you learn how to sit correctly, you need to be standing in a good health and natural posture. 

Because if you're standing badly you will end up sitting badly when you attempt to sit down.

This means, if you're sitting in a tense or slouched out of aligned posture, then this can throw you out of alignment and balance when your standing.

The second important step is to learn the correct way to maneuver your way into your chair.

Most people position themselves in their seat without giving enough consideration to whether they are sitting correctly, and when you do this for a long period of time, it can become a habit and automatic way of sitting. 

They give little thought about how to sit down and position themselves correctly and they usually just flop into their seat, which causes the back to curve.

When our bodies become out of aligned it prevents the free flow of good feeling energy from flowing around our body, slumping cause our organs to become compressed and it restricts our breathing whilst over tensing your body can be equally as harmful.

Slumping may temporarily feel comfortable, but bad slouching and bad sitting postures can soon leave you feeling pretty lousy. 

What you should be aiming for when you're sitting is a comfortable upright, but relaxed and balance, aligned posture with the minimal amount of strain and tension.

Although it is important that you adapt the best, most poised posture you should still take regular breaks and get up and move around frequently. 

Because regardless to how good your sitting if you sit stationary in the same position for long periods of time your muscles will adapt and lock in that position which will result in more tension. 

You will also benefit from getting up every hour and do some light exercises like shoulder shrugs or other postural strengtheners or yoga type of exercises. 

Getting in and out of your seat correctly

You should pay some careful consideration and attention on how you position yourself in and out of your seat or chair correctly, because you need to try and maintain your natural and healthy alignment at all times, including sitting, standing, moving and sleeping.

Many people these days are sitting for long periods in unhealthy posture positions, many sit with their back curved in a C shape or with their backs too straight. 

When they try to correct it to what they think is good posture, they lift up their chests and put too much curve in their back to other way, causing tension and stiffness.

If you want to sit correctly, then you also have to stand correctly and vice versa. Because, it is absolutely critical if you want to avoid back pain, tension and muscle soreness as well as feeling better, in the flow and balanced, that you learn how to sit and get in and out of your chair correctly and smoothly.

When you get in and out of your seat, you need to maintain an upright and natural spine and maintain that position whilst you're sitting and getting in and out of your chair.

The secret to good sitting posture, is to first stand in your natural, healthy and aligned posture, so you're standing poised but upright and vertical, so your weight is evenly distributed over your body, where your shoulders are over your hips and your hips and shoulders are over your ankles. 

Then all you need to do is, make sure you know how to get in and out of your chair correctly. If you have too much tension or stiffness in your knees, your upper legs or your hips and pelvis, region when you're standing, then you will find it very hard to sit correctly.

If your stand tense or out of balance and alignment, then you will find it hard to sit correctly, or if you just flop into your chair with little thought and consideration, then again, you will end up sitting in an uncomfortable posture and position.

Many people, when they attempt to sit down, without being aware of what they're doing, lift their chin up, and they pull and allow the back of their head to come down, which cause the muscles in the back of the neck to shorten.

They then do the same thing when they stand up. When you do this, all the muscles in the back of your neck will contract and it will also tense and contract all of your back muscles, right the way down to your pelvis.



The ideal way to sit down is, to release your head forwards a little from its axis (where the head joins the neck), without bending forwards from your neck, just allow your head to gently fall forwards, as this will help to keep your spine vertical and prevent any tension.

Then let your knees bend and move forwards, and at the same time as you allow your knees to bend and move forwards, bend from your hips, keeping your back upright, so you make sure you don't bend your back or allow it to collapse.

Allow your head to remain released throughout the whole movement, it will feel as if your face is looking down, then when you have arrived in your chair, let yourself come upright, without tensing and without rounding your back, or without arching your back.

To stand up, do the reverse, start by releasing the head and letting it gently fall forwards and bend forwards from the hip joints, letting the knees come forwards to about the ends of your toes, until the weight comes onto your feet, and stand up, letting your body come upright with your knees still soft.

There are many ways to get in and out of your chairs, so you sit in a natural, healthy, healthy and aligned posture, free of tension and pain. 

The video's above and below, will demonstrate, several ways  on how to get in and out of your chair, so you can sit correctly and comfortably.




How To Avoid Slouching When Sitting 

Most people who sit, especially if they sit down for long periods go into a slumped posture, if you need to adjust, avoid trying to physically force yourself into a stiff sitting posture. 

You should aim to maintain your spines natural curvature and alignment, do not just flop down in your chair.

The human body is lazy and it will often go into a lazy but unhealthy posture and although you should never try and pull yourself up or sit up to attention you want to avoid allowing your spine to curve into a C shape. 

If you find yourself slouching, do not try to physically adjust or correct yourself, by pulling yourself up as that will result in muscle stiffness. Either get up and reposition yourself, or follow the technique in the video below.

The video below, created by leading chiropractor Dr. Paula Moore will demonstrate how you can fix that slouching body without you trying to physically pull or hold yourself up in a tense posture. 

 

How to sit comfortably without a back rest 

Many people in the efforts to sit correctly, so they can feel more comfortable and experience less pain and tension, will try many different types of chairs, but no matter how good or expensive your chair is, if you do not address the root cause of your poor sitting, which is your posture, then nothing is going to really help.

Many people think that sitting up straight is the answer, but this only adds to the problem, because when you try to sit up straight by physically pulling yourself up, or lifting yourself up by the head, it will just cause more tension and strain.

As young children, we all know how to sit upright, correctly, so, correcting your sitting posture is not something you need to learn, but more of a case, of what you need to return to.

When we start school, where we have to sit, read and write at a desk, we can start to develop poor sitting habits, and from then onwards, if we are not aware of what we are doing, we develop more and more lazy and poor sitting habits, that can lead to pain, straining and tension.

All you have to do is start to train yourself to return back to your natural and healthy sitting habits, so you replace any poor default settings and habits, with new healthy ones.

It's all about feeling comfortable, and sitting with the least amount of tension, to achieve this, you want to sit with the least amount of tension and strain, and to achieve this, you need to be positioned on your sit bones, so your pelvis is underneath your spine.

Your feet should be positioned flat on the floor, and your knees should be slightly wider than your hips, with your feet positioned at the same angle as your thighs.

To obtain good healthy upright sitting posture, you need to make sure that you're positioned on top of your sit bones.

If you get in your chair correctly, then you should naturally end up on your sit bones, however, if any time you roll off your sit bones, or you're not quite on them after arriving in your chair, then you will need to roll back onto your sit bones.

Your sit bones  are the two hard bones that protrude at the bottom of your pelvis, if you sit on a hard chair and you put your hand underneath your butt, you can feel your sit bones.

To sit correctly, you need to make sure that you are balanced on top of these two sit bones. 

When you're positioned on top of your sit bones, your pelvis will support you and take the weight of your upper body.

When your sitting correctly on your sit bones, it will allow your legs to be nice and loose and relaxed. A chair with a hard and flat surface, is better to sit on, than a soft based chair.

When you're positioned directly on top of your sit bones, it will make sure that your pelvis is tilted correctly, so your pelvis is on top of your sit bones and directly underneath your spine. 

What this does is, it helps to keep you upright and prevents your back from curving, which will help to hold you up and put you in good alignment and balance.

If you have rolled back off your sit bones, so you are on the back edge of your sit bones, then your lower back will begin to curve, which means that your pelvis is tilted too far backwards, and it will cause your back to bend and collapse.

So if you find yourself on the back of your sit bones or your tail bones, then you will need to gently rotate your pelvis so you rock back onto your sit bones, so your body comes upright without arching your lower back or lifting up your chest.

If you over rotate your hips forwards, you will come onto the front of your sit bones, which means that your pelvis will become tilted too far forwards, which will cause your back to arch and become tense.

To find that neutral upright position, you can rock on to the back of your sit bones, then slowly rotate your pelvis on to the front of your sit bones, then rock gently back and forwards, until you can find the correct comfortable neutral position.

If then you feel you want to fine tune your alignment, then gently sway back or forwards from your hip joints, letting your upper body come forwards and back until you find that sweet, comfortable position. 

Make sure your head is released forwards so your face tilts forwards a few millimeters, so the weight of your head balanced freely on top of your neck and supported by your spine, as this will reduce tension and help to keep your spine lengthened and upright, then let your front rib cage and back relax.

Once, you've positioned yourself, correctly on your sit bones, if you want to lean forwards to reach something or if you want to align your body, bend from your hip joints, and keep your back upright, avoid bending from the waist.

At no point should you attempt to make any physical effort to try and physically hold yourself up as this will cause your muscles to have to do the work of your bones and that will quickly result in muscle tightness. 

If you're not using a back rest, then you may need to come away from the back of the chair a bit, this will vary depending on the height of the individual, and the depth of the chair.



If you're not using a back rest, then it is crucial you sit on your sit bones in a poised and balanced tension free posture. 

Feeling comfortable is the most important thing when sitting, your body should be neutral aligned and balanced, you should never try to unnaturally force or hold yourself in a tense position. 

Do not sit in the same position for hours on end, alternate and get up regularly and do a few stretches.



How to sit with a back rest

If you're spending long periods of time sitting, especially at work, then it is important that you use a backrest at times because it can be hard to support yourself up for hours on end. 

You will also need to empty your back pockets as you need to avoid anything that prevents you from sitting flat on your chair.

If you're using a back rest, don't allow your bum to move away from the back of your chair or your end up sitting on your tail bones which will curve your back and your head will end up protruding forward. 

You can use a towel to support your lumbar spine if your chair does not have a good back support, this should be placed just above your belt. 

Although you should have a small lumbar curve in your lower back, you should not use any force to push you back in.

Even though you should not allow your back to curve outwards, it is better to have less of a curve than to have too much, remember your back should always be relaxed and natural and never arch your back or force your shoulders back. 

The golden rule is if it feels uncomfortable or tense, then something is wrong or you're unnaturally forcing your body and muscles.

Some tips for sitting at a computer 

It can prove to be quite difficult to sit at a computer for hours at a time, many people fall into the trap of falling forward into the screen or slumping and hunching over the keyboard.

If you have to sit for long periods of time at a computer, then you need to sit poised, aligned and balanced because if you sit at your computer slouched or too stiff and straight,''' then this will result in muscle tightness and eventually back and joint pains, so some extra thought and care is needed.

  1. If you are sitting at a computer do not push your head forward into the screen, your screen should be positioned in front of you and your keyboard should be a bit lower
  2. If you're using a laptop, especially if you're doing a lot of typing it will pay you to have a separate keyboard attached so you can set it up like a computer, put something under your laptop to raise it up if need be 
  3. The screen should be at eye level so you're not straining your neck to look up too high or down too low
  4. Your elbows should be level or above your wrists when you're typing
  5. If you're using a back rest make sure your seat backrest is not tilting you too far backwards
  6. Do not lift up your chest or pull your shoulders back to far back or force them too far forward or have them positioned too high
  7. Rest your wrist on the table or on the pad of the keyboard or laptop 
  8. Only lightly press the keys 
  9. Bring everything towards you instead of leaning forwards 
  10. Do not sit stuck in the same position for hours, alternate from using your backrest to sitting a bit further forward without it 
  11. Take regular breaks at least every half hour, even if it means standing up for a few minutes
  12. If you feel yourself wanting to slouch this means your body is fatiguing, do not give into it and slump. Again, take a mini break or get up and re-position yourself

If you spend a lot of time working on a computer or playing on devices like a play station, then it may benefit you to buy yourself a saddle seat or posture stool.

The pictures below shows an all to common modern way of how not to sit at a computer and how to sit correctly. The first photo demonstrates a healthy computer sitting posture. 

What causes a lot of back pain and muscle tension initially is usually from sitting up to straight and stiff or slumping or slouching in your seat especially if you spend a lot of time on a computer or at an office. 

The second picture illustrates how not to sit whilst your on a laptop or computer, this type of position will shorten your structure and it can lead to back pain, forward head posture which will restrict your breathing, squash your internal organs leaving you feeling uncomfortable and pretty lousy. 

If you do spend long hours on computers, laptops or the smaller electrical devises try and have a few minutes break every 15 to 20 minutes, get up and look up for a minute or two and move about. 

Most chairs are not designed with good sitting posture in mind and really we are not designed to spend long periods of time sitting down. If you do have to sit for long periods at a time alternate your sitting position from leaning on a back rest to sitting a bit further forward without a back rest.

 

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