Sitting Straight Bad For Backs?
I have just come across an article written on the BBC website about seated posture and how it may be bad for our backs by sitting up straight. You can read the article at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/6187080.stm.
Why is it that these articles on news sites are written so badly?
My issue is not the “dumbing down” of the information- we all need to be able to understand what’s being talked about- but instead it’s the Chinese Whispers way the information is changed during that “dumbing down” process, not just in this article I might add.
Let me explain… In this article they are trying to discus is how different seated positions change the pressures in the spinal discs. What they actually say is that different seated positions move the discs around or “move out of place”. Discs don’t just “move out of place”! Discs have a fluid filled centre which gets pushed in different directions depending on the position and load throughout the spine. The outer layers of the disc don’t slide around!
The article is implying that a reclined seated position is actually better for our backs than an upright seated position. Well I’m going to again pick on the specific meaning in the article. If you are sat upright with perfect posture, (lower back curved like it should be and pelvis rolled forwards) and then recline, the spinal angles will actually be much the same… in the lower back. The only difference is the angle in the hip.
The problem I have with advising people to recline is that it will cause problems elsewhere; in the upper back/neck. As you can see in the picture (taken from the BBC article), this reclined posture causes the head to come forward, putting an increased strain on the lower neck. This also contributes more to an “Upper Crossed Syndrome” where the shoulders round forwards and the pectoral muscles become tight.
The theory of the 135 degree angle hip is a good one and it does help to align the pelvis and spine but in a seated position is a bad idea. Unfortunately if we are going to sit on standard chairs, we are always going to have these problems! Instead what I recommend is an awesome chair design called the Back App. It allows us to sit comfortably while maintaining a good straight spine and an open hip angle, while also engaging your core muscles making your back more protected from injury.
One thing I have noticed is that most of us wake up, sit down or breakfast, drive to work in a seated position (or cycle in a similar position), sit at work, drive to the gym, sit down on machines at the gym, drive home and then sit for the rest of the evening. A lot of sitting!
So if you are interested in looking after your backs, do something about it! I suggest you move more. Get up from your desk at regular intervals and stretch! Walk more and sit less when you can. Get some osteopathic treatments to correct your bad posture and loosen all those tight muscles!
Rant over…. for now!
Speak to you soon,