Dr Bret Wilson
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Summertime Sitting

Summertime Sitting

Dr Bret Wilson

Dr. Bret Wilson

It is summertime and the living is easy, full of outdoor leisure activity, travel and rest.  There is a lot of sitting at ball games, picnics, in the car or in a chair at the beach or pool.  Sitting is considered a position of rest, but can often cause low back pain due to poor posture.  Sitting too long at one time, even with good posture can cause discomfort, stiffness and muscle fatigue. This article will review some ideas to help keep you sitting pretty all summer long.

Proper posture while sitting maintains the normal back curves and center of gravity. The normal curve in the low back and neck is a slight forward arch and a mild backwards curve in the mid back. There should be alignment of the center of the head, shoulder and hip from the side. From the front there should be level hips and shoulders, no lean to either side.

Keeping these parameters in mind, try to maintain these postures in all seated positions and avoid rounding the back.  Sitting on bleachers or on a picnic bench without a seat back support will cause people to slouch and round the back.  This position stresses the ligaments and disc of the low back, makes the muscles work harder.  A shift of the pelvis, tipping forward, creates and maintains a forward curve in the low back, helps you to sit tall and allows the postural muscles to do their job more effectively.  Another common postural strain is sitting with the knees higher that the hips, such as in a low beach chair, or on the ground.  Change the angle of the hips to the knees by leaning back (reclining) and stretching the legs out in front to lower the knees.  On the ground, crossing the legs “Indian style” can help allow you to sit upright and maintain the forward curve in the low back.

In the car, the use of a lumbar support pillow or the built in low back support can help make the trip easier on your low back.  The support should be positioned to allow the hips and buttocks to sit back into the seat and support the forward curve in the low back.  Putting the support too low pushes the buttocks forward and rounds the back.  A pillow that is placed too high or too big pushes you forward and changes the angle of the hips to the back, pulling on the back of the legs.  Choose the size and style of pillow that fits you and helps you sit more comfortably.  If the car has an adjustable lumbar support, change it to your comfort and body.

Time is another key to comfortable sitting postures.  Avoid sitting for periods of time greater than 30 minutes.  When driving stop and get out of the car every 60 to 90 minutes for a change of posture and some body movement.  At the ball game sitting in the bleachers, give your team a standing ovation, or initiate the wave and let everyone in the crowd get a posture break.  Get up off that beach towel and walk the beach or take a swim.  The more you feel yourself fidgeting in your seat, the more your body is telling you to get up and move.

Sit pretty this summer.  Maintain strong posture while sitting, so that you are not too stiff and sore to participate in outdoor activities.  Position yourself for comfort, sit tall and take in all that summer has to offer.

Yours in health,

Dr. Bret Wilson