Somanaut's Blog

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Sitting Comfortably: The Basic Version

We sit. We sit a lot! I doubt any other culture has ever sat nearly as much as we do now. To make a white collar living, to be educated, to function in this society (drive, bike, eat), we need to sit. Well actually, we might not need to, but we sure do choose to sit a lot.

Who taught us how? Maybe we got lucky and are good at it. Maybe not. How would we know? How would we improve our comfort, capability and endurance? And how would we minimize the stress and discomfort?

Let’s look at it. To sit, I place my butt on something. (For now, I am going to focus on sitting in a chair, which differs from sitting on the ground or floor.)

Finding the easiest position for myself may take some experimenting. I can postulate that resting my feet on the floor will be easier, since otherwise I have to use muscle power to hold them up. But this isn’t true if I can fold them, cross my legs so one foot is hanging, or prop one or both feet onto something else like a desk.

It seems there are many possibilities. I really thought describing sitting would be easier than this!

Here’s a short version: Put your butt on something hard and even. When we sense something is solid and steady, we can depend on it so we relax our muscles. That means less work over time. Don’t be fooled by soft cushioned seats. After a while you will feel the extra work, and end up more tired.

Sit with your spine vertical, like you could balance a bowl of fruit on your head. The closer to vertical that your trunk is, the less torque there is, so it’s less work than leaning or slumping. Put your feet flat on the floor. Any lifting is work, so both heels and all toes should be resting in contact.

Your knees should be lower than you hips, so stay to the front of the chair. For most people, this is an easier position than having a lower butt, since it doesn’t pull as much on the hamstrings and makes for a better pelvic position.

So, pick a hard chair, tall enough that your hips are higher than you knees, and sit forward. Don’t rest on the chair back. Sit so that you can breathe comfortably and twist easily. Your eyes should be naturally focused straight ahead. If your spine is vertical, you should feel like you can balance something heavy on your head.

Now for many people, these suggestions won’t be quite right. They are a quick approximation, and there is a better, if longer way to learn how you can sit. Using the Feldenkrais Method, you can make experiments that allow you to learn what works best in your body, as opposed to following a generic prescription. That will be in the post Sitting Comfortably: The Longer Version


March 24, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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