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Posture and why it matters - Sitting

Sit up straight, don't slouch!

Did your parents say that to you? Despite sitting being one of the first things we accomplished as babies, we still spent the next 15 years being told how to do it by our parents. We should be experts by now. Unfortunately, we have learnt over the years to sit extremely badly. We slouch and lean on things; anyone would think we’re incapable of holding up our own bodies. Your seated posture is probably more important than your standing one, because you stay sitting for a lot more of your day and are likely to stay in the same position a lot longer when you’re sitting than you do when you’re standing. Sitting is in itself a major cause of back pain, so the last thing you need to be doing is making matters worse by sitting badly. Let’s have a look at some people sitting.

This little boy is sitting brilliantly. His back is nice and straight, he’s sitting level on both sides of his bottom and he’s supporting his head with effortless ease, despite the fact that relative to his body weight it weighs nearly three times as much as it will by the time he’s an adult.

The woman in the picture below is more typical of adult sitting, and she is doing everything wrong.

You probably sit like that. I sit like that. If I tried to sit like the little boy I would almost certainly topple backwards. I’m sure I would find it horribly uncomfortable. It’s as if I’m not designed to do it – but clearly I was, just as he is.

Let’s think about this posture from an anatomical point of view. This woman – let’s call her Lena – is putting all her weight onto the right side of her pelvis and has one leg crossed over the other, so her hips are at uneven angles. She’s also leaning on her right elbow, putting upward pressure on her right shoulder. Her head is tilted forward so far that it’s weighing 5 times its normal 12lbs weight, putting additional strain on her neck and shoulders. And the weight of her left leg is resting on her right leg, which means that the blood supply to both is being impaired. In short, despite relaxing Lena is giving her body a lot to deal with. It's no wonder she looks a bit dissatisfied.

Very Bad Stick Drawing

The very bad stick drawing demonstrates the conflicting pressures that are going on in Lena’s body and joints. If we compare that with the stick figure of the little boy, you can easily see that there is far less happening in terms of impact on the body. Everything is straight and level, his weight is going straight down through both seat bones into the surface he’s sitting on. And his head is upright even though he’s looking at something just as Lena is. Which do you think is doing less harm to their body?

So not only is Lena much more likely to need Bowen therapy than our upright baby, but she’s probably going to have to keep coming if she doesn’t change her sitting habits. This is why I tell you to sit straight after a treatment!

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