with Caitlin Parsons, owner of Caitlin Parsons Yoga Therapy and Aligned, a monthly wellness membership program.
Let’s be real, sitting for extended periods of time is simply not good for our bodies. Our bodies were simply not meant to be in the same position for a while. It puts pressure on specific areas of the body even if we have good posture, but let’s get down to the important piece here–it’s SO IMPORTANT to have good posture when you’re sitting so that you do alleviate pain and discomfort now and in the future.
If you want more details about why sitting is bad for you, check out this article for more information on the dangers of sitting.
There are a few important things to be mindful of when you’re sitting – whether at a desk or not – for long periods of time. I’m talking in the car, on an airplane, or even in the waiting room of a doctors office.
I’m going to share the important tools with you here AND share with you some tips for improving your posture even more! If you’re interested in a $5 Workshop based on these practices, grab the free class on my website here.
Body Awareness for Correct Posture When Sitting
First, you need to make sure your spine stays long when you’re sitting. If you are rounding or arching your back too much, your body isn’t working the way that it’s meant to– it’s working harder. In these cases, muscles on one side of the body (front or back) are going to be overworked, become tight and less mobile. While the muscles on the opposite side of the body are going to become weak from lack of use. In the case of rounding our backs, the front of your body becomes tight and weak, while the back of your body becomes overworked and tired, and therefore weak and immobile. The opposite is true for arching the back.
(Side bends, back bends + forward folds help with this)
Here are the three things you need to know to make this to happen:
- Being able to have awareness for your posture throughout the day
- Learning to strengthen/stabilize the back and core muscles
Learning to stretch/release tension from other areas, like the chest, shoulders and low back.
- I have a tip for making this easier below!
The second piece is maintaining an open chest. Meaning that from the outside of one shoulder to the outside of the opposite shoulder is a long line. When you let the chest collapse, it puts a lot of pressure on the neck and shoulders, and other areas of the spine. In addition, a closed-off chest can affect your breathing, your lungs, and the function of your nervous system.
(Back bends help with this)
No Text Neck
Making sure your head is in line with the rest of your spine is KEY, and the next piece I want to discuss. With the rise of texting, phone use and being on computers, we see an increase in “Text Neck” – the condition that happens when your chin is jutting forward. The research out there suggests that just with your head leaning forward a few degrees, it can add up to 40 lbs of pressure onto your spine!!!!! You will likely feel this discomfort in your neck, chest, shoulders, spine and even down to the low back! I have a secret for this, keep reading!
(Back bends + stretches for the neck and shoulders help with this)
The last piece to the puzzle that’s super important to pay attention to when we’re sitting for extended periods of time is that your hips stay even. That means none of this leaning to one side action or hiking one leg on top of the other. This plays a role in what happens in your lower body but more specifically, it affects your spine and creates an imbalance in the muscles and vertebrae of your low back. Learn to engage the core and keep your hips steady.
(learning how to sit and move properly is crucial here)
Tips for Maintaining Good Posture Throughout the Day
Your Space is Important
The first and most obvious one that I love helping clients with is adjusting their workstation so that it’s ergonomically friendly. That means ensuring that your desk and chair are at the right height for your feet, hips and arms. It means making sure that your monitor is at eye-level so your neck is in good posture. It means checking that the positioning of your mouse and keyboard are on target so that your wrists, elbows and shoulders aren’t at weird angles. ALL of these things play a big role in how you’ll feel at the end of the time. If you want support for setting up your work space properly, let me help you.
Take Breaks to Get Up
One of the hardest things on our bodies is maintaining a seated position for hours on end without bringing in movement. Getting the blood flowing to area’s that become restricted when you’re sitting is priority. This means getting up and taking a short walk, a water or bathroom break, or even going to have an in-person conversation with a co-worker versus email. This helps to get the blood pumping and will help prevent you from feeling sluggish, tired or weak.
Take Stretching Breaks
One of my favorite things. A stretching break doesn’t mean you need to leave your computer. You can actually do a lot of stretching right from your chair. I show you how in this freebie, and also this Friday’s upcoming $5 Friday workshop I’m hosting!
If you’re logging long hours, you need this hack! Most people roll their eyes when I tell them that they can roll a blanket or use a pillow behind their backs on their chair to help support their posture, yet when they incorporate it, they can’t believe how helpful it is! It helps to not only take pressure off your body but it helps to promote good posture without having to work your body so hard because let’s be real, it does take time and dedication to improve your posture in a sustainable way. If you’re interested in improving your posture with yoga therapy, I highly recommend checking out Aligned, my monthly membership with 100+ classes designed to help you alleviate pain!
Towel Support for Your Head
Sounds weird but just wait. This is my magic trick for car rides. Take a face cloth or something of similar size and roll it up. Place it behind your head while you’re sitting against something high enough for a head rest. This helps to build muscle memory and strength in the back of your neck and upper back. When you create muscle memory, you create change in posture.
I want to help you live pain free….
I don’t know how many people that I know who experience pain in their bodies while they are sitting. In fact, according to , most people who sit for the majority of the day experience pain in their body throughout their career. By incorporating these pieces and committing to being more mindful in your journey to improve posture, you will start to feel better day by day.
If you want further support or you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.
If you’re interested in therapeutic yoga classes, practices and trainings that will help you live pain free, improve your posture + get you back to healthy again, check out Aligned. Aligned is my monthly wellness membership program where you get access to over 100 video classes to practice at home, your office or even on-the-go!