How to Sit Comfortably
If you are like many people, you spend a lot of time sitting. In fact, most people spend about one-third of their time in a seated position. As comfortable as sitting can be, it can cause low back pain, neck tension, and muscle fatigue. Whether you currently experience discomfort when seated or want to learn how to prevent symptoms from developing, you can benefit from this information.
Support: A Smart Choice
Choose seating that supports healthy posture. Good posture helps to keep the natural curves of the spine relaxed and ready to absorb and distribute stress encountered during rest and activity. When the spine and body are properly supported, the back muscles, ligaments and discs are not strained.
Even if you do not have an ergonomically designed chair or an adjustable chair, there are things that you can do to make sitting more comfortable.
Tips on How to Sit
- Position your hips and buttocks as far back in the middle of the seat as possible. Ideally, there should be a small amount of space between the back of the knees and the edge of the seat. Short people may need to place a cushion between their back and the chair.
- Feet should be flat on the floor and the knees at hip level. A footrest can be used to raise the knees to the proper height. Consider an adjustable footrest (height and tilt) with anti-slip tread to help keep your feet in place.
- Lean the spine against the back of the chair so the upper and lower back is supported. A lumbar support, placed at the curve in the low back, will help to relieve stress and relax the spinal muscles. There are many types of lumbar supports including those that are inflatable. A rolled-up towel will work as a lumbar support.
- A good chair is equipped with armrests to support the weight of the arms.
When the arms are properly supported, the neck and shoulders can relax. Many
ergonomically designed chairs offer adjustable armrests that can be swung
out of the way.
When armrests are not available, try the following for support: Cross your arms over your chest, or cross your arms and rest them on a lap pillow, your purse or briefcase.
Chair armrests can help you to push yourself up and out of a chair by fighting gravity. Hold on to the armrests and scoot to the edge of the chair before pushing yourself to a standing position.
In the Driver's Seat
- Enter and exit your car by sitting and pivoting on the car seat.
- Move the car seat forward so your knees are slightly bent and higher than your hips.
- Sit up straight.
- Rest the spine on the back of the seat. A small lumbar support or cushion may make the car seat more comfortable.
- Don't drive sitting far back from the wheel or pedals. Adjust the seat distance to avoid stretching that can strain the low back.
- Drive with both hands on the wheel.
- Do not sit in one position (called static) for a prolonged period of time. Every half hour stand up, stretch, and walk for a few minutes. This will increase circulation, relax tight muscles, and can actually help you to be more productive!
- Don't slouch or slump.
- Avoid deep sofas and low chairs. These types of seats are not back-friendly and can be difficult to get up from.
- Avoid crossing your legs as this affects good circulation.
Paying attention to good posture and sitting properly can help to prevent future spine problems. It may take a little time and effort to improve your sitting habits, but the benefits are well worth it!