It is quite possible you are sitting incorrectly right now. Yep, that's right. Many of us have poor posture throughout the day and it has a tremendous impact on our health and ability to stay active and do what we love. You wouldn't think sitting could do all that, but we see it at Sioux Falls Chiropractic everyday. Here are some of the worst things you can do for your spine when sitting.
Sitting in a Cushioned Chair
That side chair with the fluffy cushions is so inviting, but your back would disagree! When you sit back in chair with an overstuffed or oversized seat, your pelvis naturally tilts toward the back of the chair as you sink in. Any time your pelvis leaves neutral it is putting strain on the rest of your spine. Strain causes pain.
If you plan to sit for a long while, you are better off selecting a place where your bottom is firmly supported such as a straight backed chair. If you do choose a stuffed chair, choose one with firmer support so that your pelvis doesn't tilt as much and limit the time you spend sitting.
Sitting with Your Legs Crossed
This is a problem for so many, but seems to especially affect women due to a desire to sit in a "ladylike" manner. But sitting with your legs crossed is a problem for several reasons. First, it tilts your spine to the side making it impossible for your vertebrae to be stacked correctly. This puts pressure on your discs (the cushion between vertebrae) and can cause pain or long term injury. Sitting with your legs crossed also contributes to an imbalanced pelvis which can lead to painful conditions like sciatica, and pinched nerves. Sitting cross-legged can also temporarily increase your blood pressure and put you at greater risk of developing varicose veins.
How To Correct It:
Just don't do it! If you find yourself tempted to cross your legs, try sitting in a different height chair. Sometimes people cross their legs in an effort to get comfortable when a chair is too low or high off the ground for their height.
Sitting Slumped Over
We get it, it is called a laptop, but that doesn't mean you should work with it on your lap! Looking down at a technical device, computer, or even a book in a hunched position does a number on your neck and back. Sitting this way trains your spine into a C-curve with your pelvis tilting back to compensate for your head an neck rolling forward. The C shape is a weak shape for holding downward pressure, so all that pressure from your upper body is compounding in the lower spine and setting you up for aches and pains.
We have noticed that posture is a big issue for students especially as they head back to school. Bad habits are much easier to break now rather than in adulthood!
How to Correct It:
Try sitting at a desk where you can work and look at your screen comfortably without crouching. Note your posture throughout the day and try to correct it when you notice it going south. You might even tell some friends or co-workers to call you out on it to help you fix your bad habits.
Sitting and Leaning
Look at the way you are sitting right now. Chances are you have a slight lean to one side. Our bodies naturally fall into these patterns based on a variety of factors such as your alignment, slight abnormalities in spine curvature and even the ergonomics of your environment. If your spine is out of alignment you may favor one side. As chiropractors we often see that this is the side where your computer monitor or TV sits. That's right... your chiropractor can sometimes guess how your workstation is set up based solely on looking at your back!
First, come visit us to make sure that your alignment isn't contributing to your lean. Adjustments are NOT painful and greatly improve your quality of life. Once your spine is back in alignment, you can keep it there by adjusting the ergonomics of your environment at work and home to be more neutral (straight ahead) so you aren't tempted to start leaning again. If you have abnormalities in your spinal curvature your chiropractor can also help treat that and give you specific stretches and suggestions for how to work with your uniquely shaped spine so you can avoid injury and pain.
If you have pain, that is your body's way of telling you something isn't quite right. Sitting shouldn't hurt you or cause pain! If you currently have pain, or if you just want to feel better, try some of our free video-guided stretches below!