Dr. George Russell
You are, aren’t you?
Well, sitting may not be good for you.
Dr. Russell, must you ruin everything?
Hear me out. A long time ago – long before I was around to ruin everything – and before we evolved from four legs to two, our spines were parallel to the ground. We moved about table-like, with four supports.
A spine that is parallel to the ground has uncompressed space between the discs.
Uncompressed space allows for freedom of movement.
When we stood on two legs, our spines became perpendicular to the ground. This erect posture made possible the extended use of our hands:
- To make and use tools
- To express ourselves
- To swing our partner ’round and ’round at the hoedown
But, a perpendicular spine is a compressed spine – the compression results from our own bodyweight, starting from the top (head), down to the low back (tail).
Don’t get me wrong. Our spine is wonderful piece of architecture; the discs between our vertebrae allow for a wide range of movement and they absorb shock. And, when we stand upright, our muscles provide a girdle and a harness that keeps our spines resilient and juicy.
Standing is an activity – when one is standing, one is extremely active. If you doubt this, stand, for five minutes, as still as you can. Tired?
The Missing Link was tired, too. Which is why, when she spotted a big rock, she sat on it. And she saw that sitting was good.
Still standing? Have a seat. Take a load off, as we say.
You are allowed to be comfortable – I want you to be comfortable! Which is why I ask you to keep in mind that most sitting actually increases the pressure on the low back. And pressure may result in discomfort and pain.
What’s a sitter to do?
We can’t be active (e.g. sitting up super straight) all the time when we sit – that would overtax the muscles that keep our torsos upright. So the answer is right there in your chair. You must:
- Have the correct chair for the job you do. Computer work demands a different chair than the work of a therapist.
- Know how to use your chair. Your chair is your tool. Knowing how to use this tool is as important is having the correct tool.
Here are a few basics to help you become a more conscious sitter:
- Get your eyes checked. You may need glasses, or a stronger prescription, so that you’re not, even minutely, jutting your head forward in order to see.
- Pay attention to the alignment of the pelvis. You should be on top of your sitting bones, not in front or behind them. Unless you are sitting for only a short period of time, support this on-top pelvic alignment with pillows or cushions behind the pelvis.
- Whenever you think of it, “ground” the feet: plant the soles of both feet into the floor. This will help neutralize the alignment of the pelvis.
- Keep in mind that spinal length comes from the back-body, not the front-body. In other words, a long spine is not created by tucking in the chin and puffing out the chest. Breathe and move into a long spine by:
- Lifting the back of the ribcage up and back
- Raising the cowlick (the back of the crown) skyward
If you need more specific guidance on how to sit properly and comfortably in your chair, I can help. Give me a call.
Yours from all-fours,
Dr. George Russell
Email me: email@example.com
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