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Here’s A Few Quick Ways To Hack Your Sitting
I just spent about 2 weeks travelling…which means I spent about 2 weeks sitting in chairs a whole lot more than I ever do at home. Airplane seats, car seats and seats in restaurants – all pretty much unavoidable.
It’s old news now that sitting isn’t great for the body – so today I thought I’d share the simple hacks I used to help keep my lower back and pelvic floor happy for our trip.
All these great tips for better sitting apply to regular life – so whether you’re working in an office or jetting around British Columbia, try them out and keep your body happy!
Sitting With A Neutral Pelvis
Typically when we sit, we slump back and relax. Feels great for a while, but when this is our habitual position, it puts a lot of stress on the lower back and weakens the pelvic floor and core.
Sitting slumped like this is also called ‘sitting with a tucked pelvis’ – which means that your pubic bone is way out in front of the rest of your pelvis.
Sitting in this way literally crushes your tailbone towards the front of your body, places a tonne of pressure on your spine and weakens your core muscles.
Much better to sit with a ‘neutral’ pelvis instead – which means sitting with your pubic bone and your ASIS in a vertical plane (the bony corners at the top of your pelvis where your fingers land when you’re about to yell at someone).
Not 100% sure how to find a neutral pelvis? No worries, here’s what to look for. When you’re sitting with a neutral pelvis:
» You will have a small inward curve to your lower back.
» The waist band of your pants will be roughly parallel to the ground, no angle.
» You’ll feel your weight on your sit bones instead of your tailbone/sacrum.
» Your pubic bone and ASIS are in a vertical plane. Practice finding these markers – and try finding them when you’re slumped back in a tucked pelvis as well so you can see the difference.
Use Props For Better Sitting
Even in a flat chair, it can be hard to maintain a neutral pelvis for long. This is a sign you should probably get up and go for a walk. But, if you can’t manage a walk, you can cheat a bit instead by using props to keep your pelvis in place.
Half domes are my faves for this, because you can use the round side to help you tilt your pelvis. But they are a bit hard, so for longer sitting sessions, you might find that a rolled up towel or yoga mat works better.
A Note On Sitting In Bucket Seats
Cars and airplanes typically use seats that have been designed to be comfortable for modern bodies. Which means that they actually force you to sit in a tucked pelvis, because that’s how humans are starting to be shaped. GAH!
I will tell you honestly, I cannot figure out how to completely fix this issue. When I’m on a car trip I use a rolled up yoga mat to help prop up my pelvis, but my pelvis still ends up tucked.
However, you do what you can. So when you’re in a scooped-out seat, my best advice is to use your props as best you can to create a neutral pelvis, and if you can’t quite get to neutral, it’s still going to be better than the unmodified version. If you happen to have any tips on this, I would LOVE to hear from you!
Take Lots Of Breaks From Sitting
This is always a good thing to do, whether you’re sitting for work or sitting for fun & travel. Staying in one position for a long time just isn’t good for you.
For me, this means that when I fly, I pick aisle seats and get up every 20 minutes or so. On road trips, I drink lots of water 🙂 When I’m a passenger, I also sit in a lot of different positions – crossed legs, legs on the dashboard, whatever I can think of (SAFETY NOTE: Legs on the dash can be a really bad idea if you get into an accident, as one of my readers informed me. So maybe skip the dashboard part). And I try to do other little things – lots of hand stretching, wearing my toe spreaders, whatever I can think of.
Be Creative With Your Sitting Environment
So you don’t always get the option, but when you do, try re-arranging things a bit.
For instance, on our summer road trip Chris and I took a break from all the camping and stayed in a yurt. Which was super fun and amazing (they had a hot tub!) – but most importantly, we were able to easily re-arrange the chair cushions so that our living space was more body friendly. Instead of sitting on the chair, we set up on the floor for our evening meal and Scrabble game.
When I’m on a ferry or waiting for a plane, I either stand up (really easy at most airport charging stations…and bars…) or I sit on my half-dome on the floor. Lots of choices!
Save Your Lower Back And Pelvic Floor With Better Sitting
Sitting is a fact of life for most of us, so learning to sit better is a great, easy way to keep your body working at its best.
Practice sitting with a neutral pelvis by using props, and remind yourself to move and take breaks whenever you can.
By using these simple hacks, you’ll be nurturing your health for years to come!
Petra is a movement educator and personal trainer with a passion for helping people find greater ease, joy and health in their bodies. She believes that better movement can help every body - and she's always happy to chat about it. When she's not teaching, you'll probably find her hanging out on a set of monkey bars.