26 Jul How Do You Sit?
I’m sure you’ve heard by now that sitting is the new smoking. Many people spend WAAAYYYY too much time each and every day sitting– commuting to work, eating all of your meals, sitting at your desk, and all entertainment (reading, watching TV, dining out, going to a movie or theatre) — yep… all sitting.
Do you ever think about HOW you’re sitting? Odds are, you tend to slouch in your chair after you’ve been there for awhile. This slumping position keeps your back fully rounded forward and over time, some of the structures can become irritated and cause you pain. People often don’t realize how often in life we get into this fully bent forward position!
Even an “ergonomic” chair that will have some curve built in is often not enough to prevent your pelvis from tipping backward so that your back is rounded. Many people find it helpful to use a supplemental lumbar roll. This round cushion is firm enough that when you sit and relax into it, your pelvis is not able to tip back, allowing your back to maintain the normal curves that are there when you’re standing.
There are manufactured lumbar rolls you can buy, and we like the McKenzie Lumbar Roll or McKenzie Super-roll because they are firm. We do not receive any money or gain from mentioning this product specifically, we just like them best and this is what we sell at the clinic. Alternatively, you can make a supplemental lumbar roll by folding a towel in half length-wise and rolling it up so that the roll is about 10-15 cm (~4-5″) in diameter. Be sure to wrap some tape or elastic bands around it because if you’re constantly having to re-roll it, you won’t use it for long!
Once you have your lumbar roll, sit down in the chair with your buttocks close to the back of the seat, push the lumbar roll down until it hits the top of your butt, and relax around it. The roll should be where your back has it’s natural inward curve, and is just there to support it. Now try to slouch– the roll should be firm enough that it prevents your pelvis from tipping backward.
Often we hear that the roll feels too big or intrusive, and that is because so many people sit slouched that it starts to feel normal, and even a correction toward neutral seems exaggerated. It definitely takes some getting used to! That said, it shouldn’t be aggravating to any back pain that you feel. If it seems to irritate your back, then you should speak with your Physiotherapist or Doctor to determine if a modification would be better for your back.