Sitting in the car reminded me very quickly of those times when I would sit all day. It also triggered a common question that I often get from patients which is “should I be sitting or standing?”. The truth is, you should be doing both plus some. Our bodies love to move, and there is no one ideal posture.
A lot of people have a job that requires them to sit at a desk for long periods of time. And then they get in their cars and sit on the way home and when they get home they turn on the t.v. and sit for most of their evening. Repetitive slouching can result in herniated discs, but more upright sitting puts compressive loads on the spine. In actuality the ideal sitting posture is one that continually changes to ensure that tissues don’t continuously bare forces that could result in damages.
If you do have a job that requires you to sit all day, what do you do? Here are a few ideas:
Sufficient lumbar support – Place support in the curve of your lumbar spine (low back). I prefer one that is inflatable, because I can adjust it to the curvature of my spine.
Take a break – Set your timer to go off every 30 minutes, and when it does, stand up, lift your arms above your head and do a slight back bend. Chances are you were sitting slouched forward for those 30 minutes so it is important to do the opposite movement.
Convert your desk – If you can, ask for a standing desk or a standing desk converter. These give you the great option to transfer back and forth between sitting and standing because they adjust to your height.
Stand at meetings – If you can’t get a standing desk/converter, be the weird one at the meeting and stand. Hey, in a field of horses be the unicorn!
Offset all that sitting – walk or ride your bike to work, take the stairs, get active when you get home instead of spending the rest of the evening sitting in front of the television.
Overall, when we are required to sit at a desk all day, this can take a toll on our physical health so remember that the key to help overcome this is to take breaks, adjust and move!
McGill, Stuart (2002) Low back disorders: evidence-based prevention and rehabilitation. Human Kinetics, Windsor, ON