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Things You Find At The Supermarket

So maybe you’ve heard that sitting a lot isn’t so good for you. We can safely say that movement, preferably whole-body movement like walking, is what your body needs. But it’s also safe to say that we all will sit sometimes. And it isn’t that sitting *at all* is so horrible, it’s that whenever we do sit in this day and age, we are nearly always in the same body position. So our muscles, then, adapt to that position, and some of them (for instance, hamstrings and psoas) become habitually shorter. This then leads to very tight muscles *all the time,* not just when you are sitting.

Stretching and releasing these muscles are important, to un-do some of the damage we’ve already done. We also, however,  need to change the habit that caused the problem, namely, sitting in the same position all the time. Your couch, desk, dinner table, car, waiting room, and virtually all other chairs put your muscles into the same pose. So sit less. Great. Sit on the floor. Great! Sit on the floor in ten different positions. Fabulous! You’re getting the idea.

However, there’s another factor to consider in your sitting besides shortened muscles. It’s called your sacrum.  It’s part of the pelvis, but it actually can move relative to the rest of the pelvis, and when it does, it impacts all the musculature of the pelvis. So if you are concerned about your pelvic floor muscles and their function, you don’t want to move your sacrum in the wrong direction. Which means, you don’t want to sit on your coccyx, AKA your tailbone, which is the bottom part of the sacrum.

Upon what shall you sit, then?

Let me introduce you to your ischial tuberosities! Sometimes called the sitz bones, they’re the pointy bits at the bottom of your pelvis. They are designed to hold your weight. Nothing is going to move them around, and they will support the rest of your spine. Your tailbone is not designed to hold your weight. So you want to sit in a position where your tailbone (coccyx) is not touching the sitting surface, and your weight is on your sits bones (ischial tuberosities). Think of rocking your pelvis forward a bit, as if to arch your back (or re-establish a missing lumbar curve). (If none of this makes sense I’d be happy to explain it to you in person!)

All of which brings me to this:

If you’re not familiar with Adirondack chairs, they look like this, although I don’t think they’re usually quite this pink:

An “Ergo Adirondack” is sort of a contradiction in terms. You can see in their little diagram on the label that this chair offers “spine-friendly support!” They say this because they’ve added a small bend in the lumbar region of the chair back, to help your spine maintain the curvature it’s supposed to have. That may (or may not) help with some lower-back pain issues, but it is NOT helping you to sit in a way that benefits your body.

There is practically no way to sit in an Adirondack- style chair without sitting on your coccyx. (Unless you’re not leaning back against the back support. You could perch up on the edge of the chair and do just fine, but these chairs do not invite perching, they really encourage Lounging.) You can support your spine all day and night but if you are squashing your sacrum into your pelvis you aren’t doing your body any favors. Save the $19.99 on the pink piece of perpetual plastic and just sit– or perch!– on a stump. You can make them a bit shorter than usual so that your hips have to get into greater flexion, which will increase your range of movement.

Or, stand. Or, go for a walk.

But please don’t buy an “Ergo Adirondack” in a quest for better sitting.

 

3 Comments

  1. Thanks for the heads up. There will be no hot pink plastic Adirondacks on my front porch.

    Reply

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