How to Sit Properly
The perfect seated position is one that changes. There is no ideal seated position, because it is the act of sitting that is inherently bad. However, let’s say you are required to sit for an hour without moving, while working at a computer. In this situation, there is a way to sit that will do the least amount of harm. To clarify, this advice applies to the person who is not able to stand up and stretch for a rest break OR use an ergonomic chair. In this instance, the perfect seated position involves having perfect posture (FIGURE 1). Note the head is balanced in neutral position, meaning it’s not too far forward or backward. Neutral position involves a slight chin tuck—almost as if you are on the verge of a double-chin, but not as extreme. The back is erect with the shoulders pulled back, hips are moved backward at 90 degrees (avoiding the “C-shaped” hump in the low back), feet are flat on the floor, shoulders are not shrugged, elbows are at 90 degrees and wrists are not bent. If you are not working at a computer, you need not worry about your elbows and wrists. However, don’t shrug your shoulders. Note there is a lumbar support to induce extension into the low back and prevent slouching.
A person, who cannot change positions or take a stretch break while sitting, may sit on a “vestibular disc.” A vestibular disc as an inflatable, 1-2 inch thick cushion that health care practitioners typically use to restore balance. These special “cushions” force you to keep a dynamic seated position. I’ve witnessed numerous patients in clinic improve their back pain and discomfort after sitting on vestibular discs. Because I’ve personally seen their benefit, I’m comfortable recommending them for you. I suggest sitting on one (with the smooth surface facing up) for 20-30 minutes out of an hour for the first week or two of use. If you don’t experience discomfort after 20-30 minutes out of the hour, try sitting on the disc for the entire hour. I don’t recommend sitting on an exercise ball, as research does exist stating the disadvantages of using an exercise ball DO NOT exceed the advantages.