Are You Sitting Wrong? – See How to Sit Properly
Learn How to Sit Properly Using Natural Resting Positions.
Since the recent surge of remote work, it’s estimated the average person sits for nearly 8 hours a day. But did you know sitting in a chair is NOT a natural resting position and may include serious health risks?
When you sit down, your arteries, veins, nerves, internal organs and muscles become negatively compressed. This can negatively impact many systems in your body. Sitting for extended periods of time have been linked to many health conditions like obesity, weight gain, increased blood pressure, as well as causing back, shoulder, and neck pain.
Natural Resting Positions
If we go back to the beginning of humankind, one thing we know is humans were not meant to sit for eight hours a day. We walked, ran, hunted, gathered, and migrated. When we wanted to rest after a long day of working to survive, we laid down.
Even if we look at modern, indigenous tribes, they do not use chairs when resting. They know that we as humans did not need them thousands of years ago, and we don’t need them now.
So what are the body’s natural resting positions?
Squatting may be one of the best and most natural resting positions for your body. When you squat, your weight is naturally distributed to your feet causing less stress to your spine and lower back. Sitting for long hours can cause issues to your hips and lumbar section from the constant stress and lack of movement.
When you squat, there’s more activity and muscle usage in your knees and legs, helping to stave off the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Squatting can also help with knee and ankle strength, spinal decompression, as well as improve your digestion. If you’re familiar with the Squatty Potty, you know that squatting is also the recommended position when going number two.
Seiza is a formal way of sitting in Japan. The word itself pretty much translates to ‘sitting with perfect posture’. To sit in the seiza position, sit on your knees and fold both feet under your buttocks. Your posture should be upright and straight. Seiza can help improve blood circulation, strengthen the spinal cord, correct posture, and improve leg and ankle flexibility.
You may often see the seiza natural resting position being used in yoga and meditation since it helps open up the body’s breathing circulation and doesn’t cause back pain. It may be a bit painful on the knees at first. A soft but firm mat or cushion underneath will help.
The lotus sitting position is another natural resting position that you often see in yoga and meditation. Another variation that may be easier to do for beginners is to just sit ‘Indian Style’ with your legs criss-crossed. In a true lotus position, your legs should be crossed with both of your feet on top of your thighs and your back straight up.
The lotus position can help strengthen your spine and pelvic muscles. It will loosen and open up your hips and stretch your knees so you don’t feel cramped up after sitting for long periods. Sitting in this position encourages good posture by helping keep the spine straight and is even said to help ease pain from menstrual discomfort and sciatica. It’s no wonder why monks meditate in this position for hours.
Toe sitting is another natural resting position that promotes good posture, which can help with back, neck, and shoulder pain, as well as headaches. You will sit with your legs folded under your bottom, balancing yourself on your knees and bent toes. Toe sitting will stretch your feet, toes, and ankles which will improve overall mobility in your lower extremities.
The toe sit position is said to stimulate many of the body’s internal organs like the kidneys, spleen, gallbladder, liver, and stomach. According to the ancient Chinese practice of reflexology, the bottom of the feet and toes contain many meridians (energy paths) connected to different organs. Stimulating and applying pressure to these areas are said to heal ailments and restore their natural balance.
Other Helpful Tips For Sitting For Long Periods of Time
- Change positions often
- Sit with a straight back and good posture
- Keep upper arms parallel to spine
- Do chair stretches and exercises
- Don’t hunch over. Drop and relax your shoulders
- Stretch and walk around every 30 minutes
- Keep computer screen at eye level to avoid back and neck strain
- If sitting on a chair, use a cushion for back support and keep feet flat on ground or use a foot rest
- Use a knee chair or other ergonomic chairs
- Don’t sit at all and opt for a standing desk