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How To Position Legs While Sitting To Avoid Back Pain
Sitting is a daily part of life. Whether you work on a farm in southeastern Missouri or you commute into New York City for your daily grind, it’s something we all do. Sitting is not in and of itself bad, but the way you sit can be causing you harm.
While too much sitting can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle, the amount of sitting you do isn’t what causes this damage. It’s how long you sit still and the quality of your posture while you sit that matters.
You’d be surprised at the benefits that come from taking a critical look at your posture and implementing practices to improve it.
Why Your Sitting Position Matters
Excessive time spent sitting is not ideal for good health, no matter the circumstances. Medical conditions like scoliosis or sciatica can complicate your relationship to sitting as well, making the act itself induce discomfort. However, sitting is an unavoidable aspect of most people’s daily experience.
In addition to being uncomfortable, a poor sitting posture and inferior workplace ergonomics can damage spinal structures and contribute to neck or back pain over time.
Some ways to help yourself stay healthy are obvious, like exercising and taking adequate breaks from remaining in the same position. However, the way you position your body is integral to having a healthy relationship with your chair.
What’s the Correct Sitting Position?
You can wake up early and make sure you’re hitting the gym to maintain a strong core, or you can take regular walks to ensure proper blood flow and that you’re giving your lower body a break from the chair. However, none of that will create a significant impact if you are not practicing good posture.
-Your ability to improve your posture relies on having the proper equipment to help maintain the position you need to avoid pain and help strengthen your core and lower back.
Let's take a look at some of the elements that make up good posture.
Lower back pain is the most common form of discomfort from excessive sitting and bad posture. It can be an occasional annoyance, but typically, any incurred condition like a sprain or sciatica will also manifest as lower back pain.
Make sure to never slump or slouch forward in an office chair, as this can place extra stress on the structures in the lower back, especially on the lumbar discs. But that doesn’t mean that the lumbar area of your back is the only place you should support.
Back support implies help for the entire spinal column, and you should be looking at chairs that offer you a maximum amount of support. Support is particularly important for your shoulders and neck, as these regions are at high risk of being impacted by slouching.
We are all different, and our bodies need unique care. We may share certain similarities, like a propensity for lower back pain, but that doesn’t mean we all need or can use the same solutions. Finding a chair that you can dynamically adjust to your specific body needs is essential.
Keep Your Feet on the Floor
Look for a chair that allows you to rest both feet squarely on the floor and keep your hips and knees at a 90-degree angle above them. This is a grounding position for your body that helps your weight distribute itself evenly.
Keep your upper arms parallel to your spine and place your hands on the surface of your desk. Ensure the top of the monitor is at your eye level, so you do not have to look up or down at the computer screen constantly.
You should also check that your keyboard and mouse are close enough that your elbows are at 90 degrees and your body is supported against the back of your chair without reaching forward.
A footrest can be an excellent addition to your sitting equipment, especially if you will be utilizing a chair for long stints at a time. A footrest allows you to change your sitting style but still keep your feet and knees firmly in a position that encourages support to your lower body.
When looking at a chair, understand that purchasing something that forces your feet to dangle above the floor could, over time, result in fatigue and lower back pain. That’s why you should get a chair that adjusts to allow you to rest your feet on the ground naturally. Otherwise, you should purchase a footrest.
Long Term Risks and Effects
What if you don’t care about how your legs or feet are positioned? The reason to seek proper posture isn’t to adhere to a passing health fad or simply look your best (although that’s a good reason). It’s for the maintenance of long-term overall health. Let’s take a look at some risks and effects of poor posture when it comes to your sitting experience.
Your spine is made of 33 vertebrae that are meant to stack in a precise way. When we neglect proper posture, we put our vertebrae into positions that are not optimal for carrying the incredible amount of weight and stress they usually bear.
When you're sitting with good posture, the bones of the spine—the vertebrae—are correctly aligned. Over time, poor posture can result in health conditions that can increase the risk of back problems like spasms, herniated disks, or pulled muscles.
It may seem odd, but even our digestive systems are affected by the posture we practice. The digestive system is heavily influenced by the muscles that surround it.
Slouching due to a lack of support causes you to double over and put extra pressure on your organs and constrict your muscles. If you’re experiencing issues like spasms, herniated disks, or strains, this can also cause digestive problems.
You may have heard that “sitting is the new smoking,” and there is some truth to that. Poor posture can reduce the blood flow to your lower spine, which can contribute to spinal disk degeneration and slow healing from back injuries.
Your heart pumps blood throughout your entire body. It goes out through the aorta and circulates to its destination, exchanges gasses, nutrients, and waste materials, and then returns to the right side of your heart via the vena cava.
When you sit for prolonged periods, your body struggles to complete simple circulation effectively. Poor posture can exaggerate this effect.
To avoid keeping the back in one position for a long period, it’s a good idea to stretch and walk for at least a few minutes every half hour to help support your cardiovascular system.
Additionally, being mindful of maintaining good posture while you sit will help your arteries and veins work at their optimum levels even if you are sitting. However, the best way to caution against poor circulation due to sitting is to move while you sit.
The Right Type of Chair
Now that we’ve covered some of the core elements that make up a good chair, it’s time to start thinking about actually buying one. The steps for finding the perfect chair can be overwhelming if you just jump in, but knowing why posture is essential helps narrow the field of possibilities. You’ll be looking for a chair with the following elements:
- Good back support
- Enhanced comfort for a long duration
- A backrest with proper lumbar support
- The ability to be adjusted to your specific needs
Bye-Bye Low Back Pain, Hello Comfort
Finding the right chair for your lifestyle is not a small undertaking. It can be a process to make sure you are spending money on an investment that will give back. all33 has worked hard to build chairs that improve people’s daily lives and long-term health.
Our chairs were designed by a chiropractor and an industrial designer to ensure that you have a high-quality, ergonomic piece of equipment to help you stay healthy and avoid back pain.
With proper lumbar support, easy adjustment, enhanced comfort, and strong back support, all33’s chairs have precisely what you need to help reduce back pain while promoting healthy digestion and blood circulation. You can learn more about our ergonomic chairs here.