Posture While Sitting at the Office

Better posture means sitting at the office properly on an aligned pelvis.  Before discussing how to improve sitting at the office, let’s first begin by talking about what we are sitting on. Your pelvis consists of several bones. You have your two large hip bones, or your ilium bones.  The lower part of the iliums are your ischiums which are your sitting bones. The sacrum is an important bone, considered by past cultures as a “sacred” bone, hence the name.  It is found where the base of your spine or vertebra meet the pelvis. Let’s not forget the coccyx, the tailbone. This is the affected anatomy of the pelvis, at least the bones anyway. Now let’s talk how we are putting our pelvis to use while we are sitting at the office (or school, or home). Perhaps a modified stooping position would be a better way to sit at the office. There is a difference between sitting and stooping.  One is more likely lead to a better posture and possibly make you feel better, even as you are sitting at the office.

When we sit at the office we mimic what has been done for centuries. In some parts of the world, stooping rather than sitting is the normal way to rest for short periods of time. Quite often, because they stoop, the people of these countries maintain a desirable posture.  I suggest that we all consider a modified stooping position rather than a typical sitting position. I won’t suggest that you go to your office and throw out your chair and stoop before your computer to begin the day (come to think of it, maybe that’s an idea). Let’s learn more about properly sitting at the office.

Allow me to suggest the following way to stoop rather than sit, both at the office and at home.  You will find as you assume a stooping position that your back, legs, pelvis, their ligaments, joints, and backbones are stretched nearly to their apex.  That’s to say they are stretched very well. This stretching is a good way to acquire a nice posture. You can assume this posture while sitting at the office and I’ll discuss just how.

1. When sitting at the office correctly, choose a chair built low to the ground but with a high back to rest your spine. (Unfortunately high backed chairs are hard to find).  Choose one where the seat will be approximately 18 inches from the ground. It is desired that your knees are above your hips.  This position of the knees helps to acquire a good posture while sitting at the office.

2. If your chair seat is higher than two feet from the floor, use a footstool. Again, while sitting at the office, the object is to position your knees to be slightly above your hips.  This lengthens the thigh muscles and reduces fat buildup on the buttocks. Lengthening the leg muscles helps to gain a pleasing posture.

3. Adopt a sitting posture at the office that helps you look, feel, and perform better. Lean a little forward and raise your chin just a little.  A lowered, modified stooping position allows for a better sitting posture to take place, and your eyes are more level to the computer screen (great for a balanced head position). A modified stooped seating position encourages your head and neck to be positioned more aligned with the spine (and helps to remove a double chin and a “too forward” head position). Who knew that sitting at the office properly would have so many advantages.

To gain poise while sitting at the office it is best that your head pivots and balances upon the uppermost disk of your spine. Balance and turn your head at the C1 disk, and not the C7 disk found at the top of the shoulders.

While sitting at a modified stooping position, one’s chest rises during this sitting adaptation. What this position is doing is straightening the back, raising the shoulders, and enabling you to sit in a more balanced upper body posture.  We are removing the excessive curve from our lower back and relieving the pressure on our sacrum and pelvis. We are adjusting a tilted pelvis so that it is more perpendicular to the ground.  We are thus correctly sitting on our ischiums, our sitting bones.

Any time we can lighten our load we do it, especially at the sacrum, this sensitive location of our body.  A note of important information is that the small of the back is the nerve center of our body.  Impulses are sent to and from our extremities, small of the back, and brain at super quick speeds.  We want no impedance at this “junction box”, the small of the back. Let’s continue to learn how to improve our posture by sitting well at the office.

4. Once seated in this more stooped position, take a moment to enjoy the adjustment to your body and posture. Notice the feel of the upward push of your upper body from your properly positioned pelvis. Note that your sacrum bone is centered, and is now a proper, strong base for your spine. Also your entire, more aligned spine pushes your head higher.  Yes it is possible to sit at the office and improve your posture.

Overall you’ve acquired a better posture and are enjoying a more better seating position while sitting at the office.  Let’s talk about the physiology of our body when sitting. This will help you understand what happens as we improve our posture and you change for the better. When lengthening the spine and balancing the head atop a free and more aligned, vertical neck, the shoulders are pulled up by the muscles attached to the clavicles, scapula and sternum. These muscles are attached to your skull and are doing the job of suspending the shoulders at a higher position.  A parallel would be like the ropes from the mast of a sailing ship that hold up the yardarms (your shoulders). These ropes raise the sails so they can capture the wind.  We’re getting a little off topic but this is great to know. Free your neck muscles and neck bones. Align your cervical bones (neck bones) with your entire spine. Again, insure the head is positioned and balanced above the shoulders so that it, and you, have grace and poise. Loosen you jaw. Remember to turn your head at the C1 vertebra of your spine. Breath easily as your more open chest cavity accepts more air like the sails of a sailing vessel. Doing this while sitting at the office will bring about good posture and will likely improve life at the office.

5. Perhaps while sitting at the office, and at home, you use a “physio ball to gain good posture.”  This air filled exercise ball comes in various sizes and they are not expensive.  When you sit on one, you are generally positioned so that your bottom is lower than your knees.  Be prepared for a workout when using this ball. Talk about a passive exercise. Not! If you have any twist or turn in your pelvis, the ball will duly note this.  If your iliums are rotated this could mean you have an upslip or downslip where the sacrum meet the iliums. The sacrum could be rotated as well. This puts a stress on the iliums and the spine and overall. The muscles of your back, butt, and legs will have to adjust properly so that the pain you may feel from your muscle imbalance can be alleviated.  Using the physio ball you’ll be engaging muscles that you should have been using all along for a good posture. There is some pain when replacing the muscles you were using improperly, while you had poor posture. Your old way of using the wrong muscles won’t be at all happy when you adjust your way of sitting at the office. Your proper muscles that you are using to sit are now literally fighting against the improper muscles that you’ve used previously. In other words, you are inhibiting your old habits and old habits die hard.

Did I say this was going to be easy?  However, within months or a year or so it will become easier. Your pelvis will become more aligned and sitting at the office will be more enjoyable, at least much less painful. After practicing these better sitting techniques, you will know how to move and adjust your body to attain the posture you desire. 

Lengthening and stretching your body is key, and you can make these stretches, subtly while sitting at the office. Soon your adjusted body won’t permit you to slouch and cause your muscles to do the wrong thing.  Your muscles will react like those muscles of people with grace and poise.  Your muscles, like theirs, will want to be used efficiently.  Later your muscles, when used improperly, will tell you when you are holding your body asymmetrical or moving improperly and unbalanced. Sitting at the office will be much more enjoyable. Of course work may not change, but I am not going to go there.

Now or soon enough, enduring the painful joints and muscles of a poor posture will occur less often. Your muscles that grow accustomed to holding up a more aligned spine and body will tell you when you are not holding your posture in an upright position.  It will be painful when you assume a bad posture, when you are too quick and unsteady in your movements.  Instead you’ll take the time to move more gracefully. You’ll use your body efficiently to take you from one place to another. You’ll like what you see in your newly acquired posture, and others will too. This is an experience that I assure you will be a great time in your life.  Doors will open and birds will take to the skies all from learning to sit properly at the office.

Properly sitting at the office will bring a better posture to your body. It is desirable in many ways to sit in a modified stooping position.  You’ll like the changes you feel!

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