While eating lunch in Crows Nest recently, I was reminded of just how often we sit in different chairs, and more importantly, how many of us sit in chairs that aren’t built for our bodies.

Looking at the various eateries down Willoughby Road, every place has a different style of chair, and people tend to sit on them in different ways. Some will sit up straight, some slouch. Others will recline slightly, a crossed leg here, a foot crossed behind the other there, etc. Are any of these positions ideal for good posture? Who could say for sure?

We all are aware that there are ways and means to sit ‘properly’, but what does that even mean? Do I have to sit with both feet together on the ground, my hands sandwiched together and sitting on my lap? Crikey, I don’t want to sit like I’m getting ready for a school photo all the time.

I’d rather learn how to sit ‘better’ than to sit ‘properly’. I use a few simple methods to help people sit up better each day, regardless of the seat they sit in.

(Start from a sitting position)

  1. Put your elbows on your knees.
  2. Move your backside to the back of the seat.
  3. If you can’t get your backside to the back of the seat, find another seat!
  4. If your heels can’t touch the ground, raise the ground.
  5. Sit up without moving your hips.

Perhaps these should be explained a little more. When I describe it to people, it’s usually face to face, so maybe a few pictures will help.

  1. Put your elbows on your knees
To begin with, putting your elbows on your knees is only for the purposes of changing the position of your hips and pelvis. When your pelvis is tilted forward like this, it lays a strong foundation of support for the spine, with the forward tilt taking on a position more similar to standing.bend elbows for correct posture for spine
  2. Move your backside to the back of the seat.
 Moving your backside into the back of the seat anchors your already forward-tilted pelvis in position, getting you ready to sit up better, with more support, and less chance of slouching. Grab hold of the chair you’re sitting on and shuffle yourself backwards until your pelvis is as far back as it can get. It’s important to make sure you don’t sit up while you do this, as this will prevent your pelvis from being tilted forward to an optimum level.adjust your seat for correct sitting posture
  3. If you can’t get your backside to the back of the seat, find another seat! What this means is, if you shuffle yourself backwards and the backs of your knees hit the seat of the chair, then the chair may not be the ideal shape for your body, and you will have difficulty sitting with a forward tilted pelvis. Ideally, fit at least two fingers between the back of your knee and the chair. Otherwise, you may be the wrong size or shape for the chair you’re sitting on.two fingers between seat
  4. If your heels can’t touch the ground, raise the ground. Not literally, of course. I don’t want you to start doing renovations to your floors. What I mean is, change the environment to suit you, not the other way around. For example, some people may find their legs are hanging while sitting after following the above steps, and may find that shuffling forward in their seat a little gives the opportunity to put their feet firmly on the ground. To prevent this (shuffling forward) from happening, put something under your feet to effectively “raise the ground”. The amount that you may have to raise will vary greatly from person to person. Taller people might not need much more than something as thick as a magazine, while others may require something the width of the Yellow Pages to provide support under their feet. Regardless, you should be able to firmly position your feet flat on a solid surface.
    flat feet on solid surface correct seating position        adjust feet position for correct posture
  5. Sit up without moving your hips. Simple as that. Just sit up into a ‘normal’ sitting position, without shuffling or sliding forward in your seat. You may find in this position, your spine may be supported more, your neck may sit upright and your shoulders may not slump forward.

Try this position for about 15 minutes, and then stand up and walk around for a minute or so. The next time you sit, try to follow these steps as you sit, and see if it makes a difference for you. Will doing any of this magically cure your low back pain, sciatica or slipped disc? Probably not. Will it allow you the opportunity to sit ‘better’? Absolutely!

Like anything in life that changes, sitting in this position, or attempting to sit in this position may in fact not be ideal for you, and may potentially cause some discomfort. If you experience discomfort, or have other concerns, please consult Shirley Rd Chiropractic, or your preferred health professional before attempting any long term seating changes.