Sit­ting: our hid­den pos­ture prob­lem & how to over­come it

Great Health Guide - - CONTENTS - Kusal Goonewar­dena

Just how im­por­tant is good pos­ture? Con­sider this – at Elite Akademy, ap­prox­i­mately 85% of all peo­ple we treat have prob­lems linked with poor pos­ture. Prob­lems in­clude back pain, neck pain, shoul­der, knee and hip pain. If you have poor pos­ture it will show up some­where, even in places you least sus­pect.

The trouble is that most peo­ple think that good pos­ture is for stand­ing only. But seated pos­ture is now a big­ger prob­lem, in many ways a hid­den prob­lem, some­thing we are see­ing more of in our clinic. It’s easy to for­get that many peo­ple who work in of­fices spend more time sit­ting than stand­ing.

Hav­ing good sit­ting pos­ture is cru­cial be­cause oth­er­wise your body is out of align­ment for much of the day. This is one of the pri­mary rea­sons why there is a biome­chan­i­cal ‘break­down’ be­cause the whole mus­cu­loskele­tal sys­tem is over­bur­dened.


1. Proper align­ment in spine – seated up­right, with proper sup­port through the chair

2. Proper er­gonomics – Many peo­ple make mis­takes with the po­si­tion of their com­puter screen and work desk. Some tips for proper er­gonomics in­clude:

• In­crease the height of the screen. In 95% of times peo­ple have the in­cor­rect height and are look­ing down. Hold­ing your head just five de­grees out of align­ment pres­sures your lower back and can re­sult in neck pain and headaches. This means hav­ing screens at eye level look­ing at the mid­dle of the screen.

• Have some­where for your arms to rest. If your el­bows are on the ta­ble or sup­ported by arm rests then there is less ten­sion on the shoul­ders. If the el­bows are not sup­ported then the shoul­ders tend to drop, which causes slouch­ing.

• Sit closer to the desk and be closer to the com­puter. This stops you reach­ing for­ward for the key­board, which


pre­vents slouch­ing at the shoul­ders and up­per spine

• Make sure the com­puter or your work is di­rectly in front of you. Even de­vi­a­tions of 5 de­grees off cen­tre (screen off to the side) means that there will be an im­bal­ance. We are crea­tures who pre­fer sym­me­try.

3. Po­si­tion of feet when seated – it’s al­ways best if your feet are on the ground in front of you, or on a footrest. It may seem a small point, but even while seated your feet pro­vide some sup­port for the rest of your body. En­sure that your feet aren’t dan­gling or placed on the chair’s wheels; dan­gling places pres­sure on the lower back; hook­ing the feet onto the wheel causes un­due pres­sure in the lower and up­per back be­cause it de­creases align­ment.

If peo­ple ad­dress their sit­ting pos­ture, then they have a 40-50% im­proved chance to over­come pain and pre­vent mus­cu­loskele­tal in­jury.

But how is it pos­si­ble to al­ter bad habits and cor­rect poor sit­ting pos­ture?

It takes ap­prox­i­mately 3000 reps of straight­en­ing your spine (sit­ting tall) for this to be­come au­to­mated by the brain. This is clas­si­fied as mo­tor learn­ing and when mo­tor learn­ing oc­curs then a task be­comes au­to­matic. For ex­am­ple, golfers try to au­to­mate their move­ments through prac­tice; be­ing a tech­ni­cal sport it takes about 10,000 reps (swings) to au­to­mate a golf swing. Sit­ting tall and straight­en­ing your spine is not tech­ni­cal. Thus it only re­quires 3000 reps.

Us­ing 3000 reps as a rule, it means if peo­ple do 200 reps per day they will achieve good pos­ture in as lit­tle as 15 days.

So how do we achieve 200 reps per day? It’s easy to for­get pos­ture, so es­tab­lish some cues.



• Ev­ery time you check your phone, sit tall. Stud­ies have found peo­ple check their phone 60-80 times per day. So that means that in a lit­tle as 38-50 days peo­ple could change their pos­ture.

• Sim­i­lar with check­ing email. Be­fore you open up the emails ‘grow tall’ in the seat. This may ac­count for an­other 30-50 times per day.

• Team up with some­one: great re­sults can be achieved by hav­ing al­lies on board. You may have a part­ner or col­league who also wants to work on their pos­ture. To­gether, you can sup­port and re­mind each other to stand or sit tall: ev­ery time you re­mind some­one you re­mem­ber too.

• Wear­able tech­nol­ogy such as fit­ness trackers can be­come a re­minder sys­tem. If it turns on/off ran­domly with move­ment then it be­comes a cue. Us­ing this method alone can help you achieve good pos­ture in about 100 days.

The fi­nal key to good pos­ture is to re­mem­ber that our bod­ies are 70% wa­ter. We are meant to move and mov­ing your body en­cour­ages nat­u­ral lu­bri­ca­tion through the joints in­clud­ing those at spinal level.

Get up and walk around the of­fice if pos­si­ble – you could ben­e­fit from a short break ev­ery 45 min­utes. Even just a cou­ple of min­utes makes a dif­fer­ence.


• Poor sit­ting pos­ture causes back pain, neck pain and other ail­ments

• En­sure that the er­gonomics of your desk are cor­rect

• Train your­self to sit tall and make good pos­ture a habit by us­ing cues

• Re­mem­ber to get up and move about the of­fice reg­u­larly

bad pos­ture

good pos­ture

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