Top 4 Sitting Posture Myths

You know posture is important. You've probably tried to fix it.

Here's a couple pre-conceived notions that may be getting in your way.

 

Shouldn't my spine be straight?

It’s important to note that the spine will do best when loaded in a neutral position. Opposed to a literally straight spine, a neutral one will have gentle alternating curves at the neck, upper back, and lower back. 
 A straight, but not neutral, spine position

A straight, but not neutral, spine position


I was told I need to tighten/strengthen my abs to protect my back

 Crunch action apply to sitting posture and resulting in loss of neutral curviture of spine

Crunch action apply to sitting posture and resulting in loss of neutral curviture of spine

Actually, the vast majority of people sit with the spine flexed, ie curved in the wrong direction. As the rectus abdominis muscles are used to create a spine-flexion force, tightening them would simply add load to the spine +/- push it further out of alignment. Abs are an important back protector, but not here. 

I'm using the backrest, so I must be in correct posture

You could be forgiven for this one, however, typically this isn’t the case. Chairs are generally designed to conform to the posture that consumers find comfortable.Worst will be cars, airplanes, etc. where designs may be looking to further compress posture to allow for increased aerodynamics or cabin space. 
 Notice that the chair supports the spine, but typically within the flexed lumbar position that consumers like to default to

Notice that the chair supports the spine, but typically within the flexed lumbar position that consumers like to default to


Correct posture requires a lot of exertion

Consider how much you sit for work, transportation, meals, Netflix, etc. I think you would agree (and have probably experienced) that even relatively minor exertion extrapolated over that much time is unsustainable. Of course, we’d like to add more variation in posture to our day but otherwise we’re looking to make correct sitting position efficient so that you can do it consistently enough to establish it as a habit. 
 This photo took about 90 seconds to take, which is generally how long I see the average patient last in correct posture if they have excessive muscle tension while sitting

This photo took about 90 seconds to take, which is generally how long I see the average patient last in correct posture if they have excessive muscle tension while sitting

In my practice, this tends to have me teaching people how to work smart, not hard. How to use your environment to give yourself a mechanical advantage, detect and control excess tension that’s sapping energy, and correct soft-tissue imbalances that make posture harder to achieve. 

  Author:  Steve Procter, MSc, BSc, PT, AT, CEP, CPT, Fellow-HFFC  Clinical Director, Physiotherapist, Trainer -  Club Sportif MAA    

Author: Steve Procter, MSc, BSc, PT, AT, CEP, CPT, Fellow-HFFC

Clinical Director, Physiotherapist, Trainer - Club Sportif MAA