Spoiler alert: The answer to the question “Is there one correct sitting position?” is NO, there is not.“
One correct sitting position does not exist. The same goes for different ergonomic chairs. Not even the best and most expensive ergonomic chair will help unless you know HOW to actually sit on it. The truth is that our bodies simply were not made to handle staying in one static position for prolonged periods of time. Humans evolved whilst in almost constant motion and the lack of physical activity is something that our body doesn’t know how to compensate for.
Let’s recall your day so far. How diverse have your movements been? In which way have you moved your hands or feet, or how much have you bent back both forward and to the side? How much have you rotated your spine? If your somebody with a sedentary job then chances are that the variability of your movements today have not been so great. And it is not only about sitting for long, because the same goes for those who work more manually with a lot of repetitive movement, or those who spend most of their working hours standing.
Simply put, our bodies do not cope well with staying in the same position for a prolonged period of time, nor with repeating the same movements all the time.
That, combined with the lack of natural movement and some sort of variability of how we use our bodies is a highway to back pain, and repetitive strain injuries or issues such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
The best posture is the next posture
So how should we be sitting? The key is variability. And if you don’t have to sit down, just don’t. You can make phone calls, or have your online meetings (or parts of it) whilst standing or walking. Also, when sitting, try to change your posture every 20 minutes. You can experiment with different ways you could sit on your office chair such as cross-legged, on your heels, or perhaps with your legs supported up onto something. You can also sit on the floor, in a deep squat, or on a Swiss ball. Whatever comes to your mind! Because the best posture is your next posture.
And when you do sit on your chair or have to for longer periods of time, try this active sitting posture:
- Feet flat on the floor
- Body weight distributed evenly in both hips
- Knees are bent at right angles, just over the ankles
- Sit up with your back straight and your shoulders pulled down and back
- Tuck your chin in gently
- Keep your head aligned above the spine
It’s quite typical that this active way of sitting will not be very comfortable and that you would also have the tendency to escape from it, but the important thing is to try and pay attention every once in a while to the way you are sitting and self-correcting and adjusting your position when it is possible.
Knowing is not half the battle
It’s very hard to think of the way you are sitting on top of everything that is already going on throughout your work day, however knowing how to sit correctly is one thing and actually doing it is another. Knowing is not half the battle, contrary to what J. I. Joe from the popular American television series said, we have one more tip for you:
Try to connect this new habit of checking and correcting your sitting posture to something you are already used to doing during the day, for example when having tea or water, or checking your mailbox. That way, it will be more likely that you will slip into the habit easier without much more effort or time.
So, good luck with adopting your new habits of healthy sitting!