I’m always telling my clients about the health benefits of sitting less, and the question that usually follows is something like this: “…but what about when I DO sit? What’s the best way?” I know that you aren’t going to spend the ENTIRE day standing and walking (and I would not advise that you do so). At some point, you will have a lunch date or drive in your car or sit down because you are tired. And that’s ok. It’s not that sitting is inherently bad and standing is inherently good. The problem comes when we remain in one position almost constantly (whether it’s sitting, standing, or anything else). Moving your body through many different positions throughout the day is the best way to keep all the tissues healthy.
When you do sit, here are some things to think about.
- Sit for short periods of time, and don’t sit in the same position for hours on end.
- Sit with a neutral pelvis. You know when a little kid sits on your lap and their “butt bones” dig into your thigh? Those are called the ischial tuberosities (or sitz bones), and you want to sit up on those rather than on your sacrum (tailbone). See picture on the right. (Thanks to Susanne at Kangaroo Fitness for the great photo.)
- Sit in a variety of positions. I like to sit on the floor and put my food/computer/bills/etc on the coffee table. If your hips are really tight (like mine), try sitting with your hips elevated to help get your pelvis neutral. These are some of my favorites:
Turns out it’s really hard to take side view photos of yourself. Not exactly high quality, but you get the idea.
When we sit, we tend to always sit with 90 degrees of hip and knee flexion (think sitting in a chair). Note: Sitting on an exercise ball may add instability, but it’s still sitting with 90 degrees at the hip and knee. Mixing up your positions will stretch the muscles of your legs and increase the mobility of your hip and knee joints. This way you can work on your health while you do the other things you need to do. Increase circulation while you answer emails. Decrease hip pain while you eat lunch. Improve your pelvic floor health while you play a game with your kids. If you’re like me, you probably have tight hips, but you don’t have 5 extra hours everyday to stretch them. This is a simple (but not easy) way merge your “I need to fix my hips” time with your “I have a million things to do” time.
For more ideas, you can see pictures of resting postures from around the world here.