How to Sit Properly (and Avoid Killing Yourself)

how-to-sit-properly

It’s been said before: sitting all day is killing us. Don’t believe me? Check out this infographic. In his post on the subject, Andy suggests walking meetings reminiscent of Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing. That may do the trick for one-on-one meetings, but that’s about it. What about the rest of your day in the office or in court? If you work for a firm, chances are good that they won’t let you bring in a standing desk. And if you’re in court regularly, it’s pretty much impossible to spend most of the day on your feet, no matter how many times you object. So, assuming you have to sit, how can you sit more safely?

Keep That Tush Back

Lifehacker pointed to an interesting TED Talk by Esther Gokhale, who has studied the posture of people in less industrialized societies. She explains that your mother’s advice to “sit up straight” wasn’t ideal. Instead of focusing on your back, which can lead to increased tension, Gokhale explains that the key is to think about your pelvis.

At the 4:25 mark she gives an example of sitting properly. But at the 2:56 mark there is a picture of a cute baby (and another at 3:42).

Keep Your Core Tight-ish

Kelly Starrett, creator of MobilityWoD.com and author of Becoming a Supple Leopard explains that sitting, like standing, is a technical endeavor. He essentially agrees with Gokhale that we can’t just plop down into a chair or bench. The movement has to be thought out and calculated. Where Gokhale focuses on your position once seated, Starrett focuses on how to sit. He advises folks to start in a standing position, and go through what he calls the bracing sequence.

the-bracing-sequence

Then you essentially perform a box squat into the chair. To do that, hinge at the hips and get your butt back. But don’t stick your butt out too far. Kelly demonstrates proper seated position, but explains that you don’t have to sit fully upright. The key is keeping your spine organized (as a result of the bracing technique).

good-sitting-position

But Kelly points out that it’s tough to stay this way for more than 10-15 minutes. His suggestion, which I’m sure works for nobody, is to get up every 10-15 minutes and reorganize, then do four minutes of stretching for every thirty minutes of sitting. If I’m seated somewhere and can’t get up to realign, I try to follow Gokhale’s technique.

(photo: Detective scene imitation. Lifeless woman in a black suit sitting on a office table from Shutterstock)

(graphics: Bodybuilding.com)

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  • I woke up this morning and thought to myself “How can I learn to sit better? I sure wish someone would write an article about that…” said no one ever in the history of the world.

  • I never come up with good things while sitting down. I need to be moving to be able to think.