We sit a lot. Most people sit at work. We sit for recreation or entertainment. We sit to drive, and we sit to eat. Many people ask me the question, “what kind of chair should I get for work?” Unknowingly they are asking the wrong question. They really want to take care of their back and they’ve probably heard the fad news of the day that “Sitting is the New Smoking” or that standing or treadmill desks are the way to go. There are kneeling chairs, exercise balls for sitting. Balls mounted on chairs, reclining chairs and setups that you can climb inside. Most of these devices are great, but I haven’t found a single one that you can’t sit poorly in. You can even slouch on a ball. The key is not what we sit in, though it can help to get good sitting furniture.
There are really only two ways to avoid the problems that come with sitting, the first way is to sit properly with good posture, however posture is supported by our muscles. No one, no matter how well trained can sit indefinitely without those muscles getting fatigued. Most of us are poorly trained and return to poor sitting posture after less than 20 minutes. I highly recommend core training and exercises to improve our postural endurance, but like the different chairs it is not enough by its self.
The only method that is manageable and within the reach of almost everyone is to sit for shorter periods of time. That doesn’t mean to rush out and buy a standing desk or a treadmill work station. You just have to limit your sitting to the period of time that your muscles and joints can handle at any given time. For most people that means standing up 2-3 times per hour just to stretch or move. You could walk to another cubicle to deliver a message, go get a drink, do 5 jumping jacks, or just stretch for 30 seconds and then get back to proper sitting. Try it for a day. Set a 20 minute timer and every time it goes off, pause what you’re doing, get up and move for 30 seconds. You’ll be amazed at how you feel and how much more productive you can be even though you are taking more breaks.