Sitting all day can contribute to poor posture, which can cause back pain. When we sit with poor posture, we tend to keep that poor posture throughout the day which turns into our normal posture. Since we sit at the office, in the car, while we eat, and of course, we sit to relax on the couch. Static sitting, or sitting for extended periods of time can impact much more than just your posture.
How static sitting impacts your body
- When you sit, your abdominal muscles subconsciously relax and your core becomes weak, leading to a decrease in support throughout the spine
- Static sitting leads to a decrease in the body’s ability to burn calories, causing weight gain and increased risk of diabetes
- Sitting decreases lubrication to the joints, leading to increased back-pain and discomfort. The best way to keep joints lubricated is healthy movement
- A decrease in circulation from prolonged sitting leads to increased risk of varicose veins
Not only does hunching over cause serious strain on our lower back, upper back, and neck muscles, but holding these positions for extended periods of time, can actually affect the shape of our back through the weakening of tissues and muscles.
To put it simply, the sedentary lifestyle is extremely unhealthy, yet completely unavoidable. Standing is essential for your health but not always possible. Though constant sitting is inevitable for many, in order to keep these negative effects to a minimum, try dynamic sitting.
The concept of dynamic sitting implies that continuous movement while sitting is extremely beneficial. One of the earliest forms of dynamic sitting is the rocking chair, which allows for the sitter to continuously move forward and backward when sitting.
The trick to dynamic sitting is to get your body into the habit of avoiding still positions. The best way to start the process of changing your static sitting habits is gaining awareness of the various aspects of that habit.
How you sit, how sitting makes you feel, how often you are moving, and whether or not you are slouching or upright. These are all key questions you should ask yourself throughout the day. Once you become more aware of how you are sitting, and how you should be sitting, it will become a lot easier to change your habits of unhealthy, slouched, static sitting.
Tips for dynamic sitting
The general consensus is that we should change our positioning every 20 minutes. Making small alterations such as changing the position of your torso is all it takes. Remember that one of the main issues of static sitting is the decreased ability of blood to circulate in the body. Even position changes as small as a torso movement can largely increase blood flow. Making the following small changes can help you avoid back problems and stay properly aligned.
Here are a few examples of dynamic sitting tactics:
- Roll your neck: create a circular motion with your head; you should feel your neck release loads of tension
- Shift your leg positions: if you’re sitting cross-legged, switch sides, or place your feet side by side
- Circle your hips and pelvis: move your hips around, pretend you are using a hula-hoop
- Stretch your arms: clasp your hands together and stretch your arms over your head with your palms facing up as high as you can
- Roll your feet: lift your feet and move them in a circular motion, you should feel the tension in your ankles ease
- Sit on a stability ball: by sitting on a stability ball your body will be working to keep you balanced which will increase your core and leg strength
As the famed health philanthropist, Dr. Mercola explains, “The more you sit, the less your body wants to move”. Fight the urge to be static and create small sensible goals to practice dynamic sitting. Over time the new tricks will become natural.
A good way to start is by setting a timer. Every 20 minutes when the timer goes off, change positions or try one of the recommended dynamic sitting tactics. Once active sitting does become second nature, it’s guaranteed that you will feel better and notice a difference.
By Gal Nagar with UpRightPose