How to Sit Fit

By Iris Sokol
Wed, 10/16/2013

It is rare that someone thinks about sitting.  Sitting is something we just do. Our muscles have to work very hard to stay in the seated position, which can create muscular tension and aches and pains if we don’t sit utilize good body mechanics and posture.  As an Ergonomist who has seen many corporate environments over the years, it has always amazed me when I walk around companies how people often sit with no concern for their bodies and their posture.

Think about this: our muscles form around the posture that you keep.  Just like you can shape your muscles by doing strength work, your muscles will begin to shape around how you are sitting.  So that means, if you are sitting in a bad position for 8, 10 or even 14 hours a day, your muscles are contracting and forming around the posture that you have during that time.   For example, people who slump or slouch sit with their shoulders rounded forward, back rounded, and head out in front of the chest (what I call “Turtle Neck”), are hurting their muscles. Your anterior shoulder muscles (Deltoids) are tightening, your chest muscles are tightening (Pectoralis Major and Minor), your middle back muscles are over stretching (Trapezius and Rhomboids and they are supposed to be slightly contracted), your abdominals are most likely not engaged and they should be to help support the back. Slump sitting puts pressure on your tailbone and intervertebral discs.  Whether you can imagine it or not, this is not a pretty picture. But there’s hope. Here is how to “Sit Fit”:

  • Sit tall using your abdominal muscles.
  • Think of the belly pulling toward the back.
  • Pull in your belly muscles and breathe from your rib cage!  This will help alleviate pressure on your back and balance your muscles around your spine.
  • Maintain 3 – 4 fingers distance between the top of your rib and the bottom of your hip. Keep your chest open.
  • Keep your shoulders down
  • Pull your shoulders blades towards each other just enough so you feel the muscles contract (but keep them down and relaxed).
  • Align your head so your ear lobes are directly over your shoulders and the top of the head reaches toward the ceiling.
  • Adjust your chair so it fully supports your body.

You can trash your body in any chair, even the most expensive chair on the market.  Knowing how to sit fit will help strengthen your muscles, and relieve tension in the muscles that are commonly affected by prolonged sitting; neck, shoulders and lower back.

Iris Sokol

Iris is a certified ergonomist and health and wellness expert with over 30 years in the industry. To learn more, visit ergowellsolutions.com.