Tag Archives: back pain

Improving How You Sit

The media is continuing to focus on improving sitting: NPR just published another story on the subject. Given how much back pain we Americans are living with, it’s great to see the buzz growing.

Take Control of Your Environment

image of a cashew: how do you sit?Once you realize most of the furniture we humans have designed to sit on has nothing to do with promoting good function, you can begin to customize your sitting solutions. For example:

  • Sit on a jacket
  • Carry a wedge-shaped cushion
  • Use a short stool for your feet

Forget about ever using the back of the chair: designers created the shape of the back of most chairs without reference to the human spine and pelvis. Typically, chairs (plus car and airplane seats) invite users to collapse into the cashew shape I’ve referred to before. Recipe not only for back and neck pain, but also digestive problems!

When you’re improvising your solution, remember your goal is to create clear support for your sit bones and have your feet completely in contact with the floor. Your shoulders will be slightly forward of your sit bones. This position is new to many of us, so it won’t feel “natural” at first.Photo of the front cover of CROOKED

Limit the amount of time you spend sitting, when you can. Take frequent breaks. As a designer of ergonomic furniture said in Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery, when asked what the best position for sitting is: “The next one.”

Active Sitting

In an environment you control, try varying your relationship to your computer: stand, sit on the floor, or in a QOR360 chair designed to promote active sitting (that’s the next-gen ergonomic chair I use and endorse wholeheartedly).

Bending Over: How Are You Doing It?

National Public Radio (NPR) recently did a story on the “lost art” of bending over. Spoiler: it’s only been lost in the West; other cultures still practice it.

Bending over illustrated.

Photo: Jean Couch.

If you’ve had private lessons with me, you’ve worked on this in nearly every lesson: re-discovering how to bend over, how to come from sitting to standing. Essential!

“. . . when you hip hinge, your spine stays in a neutral position. The bending occurs at the hip joint — which is the king of motion.” — NPR

Please note: this requires time and practice to re-discover as an adult. Please go slowly. Begin by thinking, “I’m taking my sit bones back. And my spine is like a pendulum. My head’s at one end, my pelvis at the other.”

Which Letter of the Alphabet is Your Spine Making?

L - Red handwritten letterYou can use the alphabet to help discover your pattern. Are you making a C-shape (rounding) as you bend over?

Or are you maintaining an L-shape with your spine and hips?

As You Practice Bending

If you’re practicing bending over, it’s key to understand, to feel, where your hip joints are located (about 15 centimeters above the crease at the top of your pant leg). Also essential: to realize that your pelvic girdle has three moving parts.

Surfer riding a wave.To see this principle in action, watch elite athletes. Speed skaters, surfers, weightlifters. No way you can lift 100 pounds or more overhead without damaging yourself, unless you take full advantage of your pelvic opportunity.

Practice every time you need to bend over. You’ll be so glad!

If you have back or hip pain, the more you understand and can bend over in this way, at your hip joints, the less pain you’ll have. And if you don’t have pain, you’ll lessen the chance of creating it.

Find the full NPR story  on bending here.

Let me know if you’d like to book a consultation to talk about how we can work together to help you practice this “lost” art.