- Dr. Michael Mollenhauer
We all do it, we all sit. You are probably sitting right now. Did you think about how you are sitting now that I just mentioned it? Good. This occurs all the time in the office. As soon as I mention posture, people instantly self-evaluate their sitting position and straighten up. The funny thing is, we know how we are ‘supposed’ to sit, yet still don’t. (Do you see how hard my job is?)
Many jobs involve sitting 8+ hours per day at a computer. Alternatively some of us are on our feet for the entire workday. One thing is certain, everyone sits. Even if one stands all day for work, there’s still driving, eating, television/relaxing. We have to try our best to sit as well as possible as much as possible.
So who cares about proper posture? Why should YOU care? I like to think of us as just another animal from an evolutionary perspective. We are similar to a bear, or giraffe, or elephant. We are not genetically engineered over evolution to sit in a chair. As I like to say ‘chairs don’t grow in the forest’. They don’t. We invented them and use them so often that it seems normal. This is similar to clothes and hairstyles. We aren’t born with t-shirts and jeans on, but everyone wears them, so it seems normal.
Despite not being designed to sit, you would be best off using posture that is the least irritating and the least destructive over time. When slouching, the spine undergoes forces much higher than with proper sitting. Over time this accumulates on the body’s tissues, increasing the likelihood of stiffness, soreness, and injuries. I am a big fan of analogies, this is my favourite for sitting and poor posture. The extra forces from slouching are like carrying around a heavy backpack all the time as far as your spine feels things. Why would anybody do that? They wouldn’t.
Having said all that, even proper sitting position is still not great after a prolonged period. Standing up for even 35 seconds every half hour is very beneficial. As I said earlier, we are animals and are not engineered to sit still all day. Our hunter/gatherer relatives from millions of years ago wouldn’t have lasted long if they just sat around all day on their butts in their caves. This is why regular standing intervals are great. What is even better than short standing breaks? Decreased sitting! Sit/stand workstations are a great way to stand more often. They are more common and less expensive as they have become more mainstream. When standing at a desk, proper footwear becomes very important. But that is another topic for another day.
Ask me at your next visit to go over this in more detail, if I haven’t already.
Until next time. Quit slouching, you’ll be taller.