How many times in your life have you been told to “sit up straight.” Does it feel good? Does it feel easy? Can you breathe in that position? For many people, the answer to all three of those questions would be NO!
The concept of perfect posture is a misnomer. Humans are constantly moving, which means our posture is always changing. Even when you think you are completely still or sitting statically, your body is still moving because you are breathing. As it was once said to me, “The only bad posture is the one you can’t get out of.”
Rather than trying to achieve the perfect posture, it is better to have a solid reference for what neutral spine posture feels like. That way as you move right to left, up and down, twist, reach, bend, you name it, your body can move through the middle neutral point and return to it easily.
The Spine Has 4 Curves
The curves develop as we grow in childhood and help distribute force as gravity presses down on us. The curves also help balance muscle tension between the front and back of the body. There is nothing inherently wrong with “sitting up straight,” but it is impossible to stay in this position without sacrificing the curves, and therefore our comfort and ability to breathe.
A few tips to optimize your neutral spine posture in sitting
- Feel both feet firmly grounded on the floor
- Feel both of your sit bones making equal contact on your chair
- Align your knees roughly to the height of your hips. If you are tall you may need to raise your seat. If you are short you may need to place a few books or a small step stool under your feet.
It is also crucial to recognize your own habits; do you always cross your left leg over your right? Do you always lean to the right side? Do you tend to sit at the edge of a chair or all the way to the back. None of these habits are inherently bad for you, but if you start to identify some of these patterns you can start to change them and vary your posture.