It's one of the most common questions we get in the clinic - what is the best sitting posture?
To be honest, it would be ideal if we didn't sit as much of the day as we do, but given the society we live in it's going to be a while before we all get to go primal.
We have all had a think about it and the overwhelming advice we give revolves around optimal sitting postures and reducing the amount of time you sit altogether.
So what can you do?
We all need to become big softies. Softening your neck, shoulders and upper back will go a long way to reducing pain and dysfunction around that area.
Start by dropping those shoulders.
Whether you sit, stand or kneel you're still going to get a sore neck and shoulders if those upper back, neck and shoulder muscles are working hard for hours on end. They have to work hard any time you have your arms out in front of you for long periods of time. For instance, when you are tapping at the keyboard, driving the car, crocheting, and then throw in the added tension that stress creates. A neat trick that seems to help is to tuck your elbows to your sides, this lets the shoulders relax a little more and keeps you mindful. Always try and rest the weight of your forearms on the desk or chair if you are sitting.
Some other good ideas to help you soften through your upper back neck and shoulders include:
1) Breathe and Release - most people find it easier to drop the shoulders, soften and release on an exhale.
2) Driving - hold the wheel on the two lower quarters and let your shoulders rest when you are in a more relaxed stage of a drive.
3) A Trigger - find a trigger during the work day to consciously soften through the trapezius and drop the shoulders, e.g. hanging up a phone call, sending an email, etc.
I'm sure you've noticed the recurring theme is 'letting the shoulders drop'.
If you are quite conscious of this over a period of three weeks, there is a sense of 'retraining' your brain to release your shoulders and neck tension automatically.
There are definitely more optimal sitting posture than others.
We have included some photos of the good, the bad and the plain ugly. Some sitting positions are extremely sloth-like but extremely comfortable, and that's ok. But always remember the more comfortable you are in the position the longer you can hold it - and that can be the problem.
The thing about maintaining good "posture" or sitting more upright is that the "better" your posture the more energy intensive and the harder it is to hold so then you move away from that position - therefore it’s better for you. Moving more is better for you - it is that simple.
Other simple tricks for the desk jockey:
1. Stand to talk on the phone wherever possible
2. Look out the window at something small and distant (like a bird in the tree) - this is good for your eyes.
3. Have walking meetings outside wherever possible. Who said a meeting had to be sitting down?