Proper Sitting Posture Is Rarely Seen Because of Poor Alignment, Weak Muscles and Bad Chair Design
If you’re one of the billions of people out there struggling to put your body in the proper sitting posture and suffering from back pain, neck pain or other chronic pain, I empathize with you because I was one of these people for a very long time. The reality is, few people can sit in the proper sitting posture for extended time periods. Because of this, people wind up in a downward spiral in health, suffering from compensation, limitation, functional loss and chronic pain at various stages, making for lives lived that are short on the kind of fist-pumping gusto moments that make you feel truly and gloriously alive.
The positive news is that those wanting to enjoy not only the feeling of strength, power, presence, control and confidence that comes with the proper sitting posture but a key component of peak health can do so through embracing a Posture Exercises Method practice. My clients come to me to eliminate neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain, hip pain, leg pain, knee pain, ankle pain along with a host of conditions such as a rounded neck, rounded back, carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, sciatica, herniated disks, pronated ankles and much more. I believe that Posture Exercises Method routines, full of active and semi-passive bodyweight-based exercises, with some unique poses using minimal special equipment, may account for the overwhelming majority of your physical activity for robust health.
Why Do People Struggle with the Proper Sitting Posture?
There are three primary reasons for people’s inability to sit in the proper sitting posture. First, most people have suboptimal joint alignment and poor posture. The position of their body’s eight load-bearing joints—the shoulders, hips, knees and ankles—is off-kilter. This plays out in the sitting posture, with a tilted pelvis and hip disparity creating issues up and down the body.
When sitting, most have their knees, ankles and feet positioned wider than the optimal position: hip width apart. Additionally, the ankles generally are not positioned directly below the knees, with the feet often pointing outward, with the toes firing off at 11 and 2 o’clock or somewhere other than the optimal 12 o’clock. The result is, the body cannot ground itself and create an opportunity for key muscles to fire.
Second, even if the pelvis, hips, knees, ankles and feet are positioned correctly, most lack the muscle strength in their lower backs to help keep their upper bodies positioned correctly, with their shoulders over their hips and heads back such that their ear lobes are positioned directly over their shoulders.
Third, even if you have a body with optimal joint alignment and posture, the odds are sometimes or even often stacked against you. The clothing we buy comes in many sizes, but most chairs are built for every body type out there. The issue with this is that, when small children sit in chairs, their legs dangle because they’re too short for their feet to be planted firmly on a floor. When looking at the other extreme, the tallest NBA players’ knees are positioned about halfway up their upper bodies.
It is only adjustable chairs—office and gaming chairs (I’ve not used the latter but have examined them online)—that offer the kind of height adjustability required to put your body in the best position to actually sit in the proper sitting posture. A key factor here is that the hips and knees must be perfectly level. For this reason, I’m not interested in ever owning a couch. I’m a guy who suffered from chronic pain for 10 years and fixed myself by doing exercise by exercise, day by day. I know a couch will do nothing but put my body into a suboptimal position, making me feel uncomfortable, blaring my body’s alarm signals and unrolling the progress I’ve made.
What Does Proper Sitting Posture Look Like?
In this illustration of Daphne, who’s the model for my Posture Exercises Method movements and is demonstrating proper sitting posture, you can see that her earlobes are positioned over her shoulders, which are in line with her hips. Her hips are in line with her knees, which are stacked over her ankles. Daphne’s pelvis is very gently tipped forward, just enough for her lower-back muscles to fire. For Daphne, the chair’s back support is merely a guide. You see, Daphne’s body is engaged while she’s sitting in the proper sitting posture. She’s not slouching, with her pelvis rocked backward, precipitating all kinds of posture deviations such as a jutting-forward neck and rounded shoulders and back. She’s also not crossing her legs, which throws the body into a tangle of rotation issues, with one side of the body turning forward compared with the other side.
Moreover, observe how Daphne’s elbows are bent at 90 degrees, just like her hips and knees are, and notice how the computer keyboard is placed close enough for Daphne’s shoulders to retain their proper position. She’s not reaching forward, rolling her shoulders inches beyond where they should be positioned. Daphne’s computer monitor is also positioned an the ideal height, and my recommendation flies in the face of common literature on this subject. Whereas most experts call for the eyes to be at the top of the monitor, I call for the eyes to rest between the two-thirds and three-quarters mark of the monitor’s height, starting from the bottom. To me, positioning the monitor too low encourages the neck to constantly bend down, a motion that’s not ideal. By casting the eyes somewhere between the two-thirds and three-quarters mark, the pupils are close to the heart of the action and easily able to scan downward, a motion less taxing than looking upward, while also being in place to scope out the top of the screen.
Finally, although it’s not possible to tell from this side view, Daphne’s knees, ankles and feet are at hip width apart. This is another key to exhibiting proper sitting posture. Most folks, whether sitting in office chairs or couches, for example, tend to roll their femurs outward such that their knees and ankles are 12 to 18 inches wide as opposed to hip width apart. So it’s clear, a rule of thumb on what hip width apart means for most adults is one-and-a-half fists, or 4 to 6 inches of separation. Most folks’ legs widen while standing and sitting because of the suboptimal position of their pelvis and hip joints. It’s the pelvis and hip joints, after all, that serve as the driver for the compensation, limitation, functional loss and chronic pain taking place in most people’s bodies.
Take a moment to assess your seated position. When you sit, do you demonstrate proper sitting posture?
What Does Proper Standing Posture Look Like?
While talking about proper sitting posture, I’d be remiss if I didn’t quickly address proper standing posture, the topic of “Achieve Proper Standing Posture with a Posture Exercises Method Practice.” Take a moment to get a good look at yourself in front of a body-length mirror while standing barefoot and wearing minimal clothing so you can actually see your body.
When you look at yourself in the mirror, are you seeing a reflection of Daphne or a body that could benefit from improvement? Daphne exhibits picture-perfect joint alignment and posture. Take a good look at how her load-bearing joints—her shoulders, hips, knees and ankles—stack evenly up and down and across her body. Notice how her feet are positioned at hip width apart and are stacked below the shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. Notice how her toes point straight forward, at 12 o’clock.
You see, when our joints are evenly lined up and our muscles, including deep posture muscles most people never think to exercise, are strong and engaged, we stand to exhibit proper standing posture and proper sitting posture.
Additional Poorly Designed Equipment Can Prevent People from Having Proper Sitting Posture
Earlier, I discussed how most chairs can prevent people from sitting in the proper sitting posture because of their one-size-doesn’t-fit-all builds. Other chairs and chair accessories in the marketplace compound this problem. Sellers of kneeling chairs, ball chairs and wobble cushions all claim that their products will help improve posture. If you think you’re golden because you’re using any of these products, know that all them can lead you farther afield of enjoying a body capable of sitting in the proper sitting posture. Kneeling chairs remove the feet and ankles from the equation, and this is a mistake and won’t help you when you have to sit in a real chair. Ball chairs and wobble cushions magnify the effects of tilted pelvises and hip disparities and can cause serious damage, even leading to slipped discs. Slipped discs, by the way, can be successfully put back into place with a Posture Exercises Method practice.
There’s more poorly designed equipment that prevent people from having proper sitting posture. I’d like to shine a light on laptop computers. Laptop computers have the potential to put you on the fast track to destroying your posture. Keep in mind that, when seated, your eyes are 12 to 36 inches, depending on your height, above where your hands should rest on a keyboard. Limit your usage of laptop computers unless you’re using an external monitor or external keyboard, with your laptop screen at eye level using a monitor riser or two offering a good amount of adjustability. Another trick is to use prism glasses, enabling you to see your screen while keeping your neck and eyes looking straight forward, as if your screen were positioned at eye level. I use prism glasses while watching movies and television shows in bed. This posture sure feels good and beats a couch any day.
While talking about screens being at eye level, make sure you raise your phone and tablet to eye level rather than crane your neck downward. If you keep looking down, not only are you going to feel it in a bad way, but you’re setting yourself up for vertigo spells. I suffered from them beginning in autumn 2009, and it’s not fun to feel as if you’re going to fall when you stand and walk. My reaching the land of vertigo was the last straw and drove me to get help and launch my posture exercises practice. With embracing a fruitarian diet, making posture exercises a daily part of my life is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.
More Reasons People Are Unable to Sit in the Proper Sitting Posture
Children across the world are back in school, and teachers, if they’re anything like the K–8 teachers I had, are calling on students to sit up and demonstrate proper sitting posture. Almost none of these kids can do this for long or at all. Even more, I’ll bet few to none of the teachers out there have any idea what precisely the proper sitting posture looks like. We live in a world that places the overwhelming emphasis on education for the brain and not the body. When I went to school, gym class was held once a week in grade and middle school and once every six school days in high school. The rest of the time, save for recess outside in grade and middle school, was spent seated. Toss in homework and, as students get older, extracurricular activities and jobs, and there’s little time left to move the body and develop muscles.
So for busy students, it isn’t long until compensation, limitation, functional loss and injuries take hold. Chronic pain doesn’t tend to come knocking until folks are in college and the working world, but when it comes, it stays at the door, knocking insistently until it’s acknowledged, with most turning to pain pills and outsourcing their responsibility to take care of their bodies to chiropractors. Some might try other approaches, but nothing comes close to matching the results that can come from posture exercise routines built by an expert posture trainer.
The seeds for our compensation, limitation, functional loss and eventual chronic pain are sown much earlier, when we’re in the womb. My training in Gillespie Approach–Craniosacral Fascial Therapy and continued education in Dr. Barry Gillespie’s groundbreaking work has revealed to me that pelvic tilts, hip disparities and other posture deviations such as rotated legs and misaligned shoulders happen in the womb and during the birthing process. Craniosacral fascial strain can inhibit proper development of the body, resulting in scores of health conditions, manifesting early on as fussiness in babies. Gillespie Approach–Craniosacral Fascial Therapy can help release strain in babies, children and adults, leading to posture improvements, but at the end of the day, it’s muscles that hold our bodies in place and strong muscles that can ensure we can exhibit proper sitting posture and proper standing posture, if we have sound alignment of our load-bearing joints.
In this article, you’ve had opportunities to pause to check out your sitting posture and standing posture and draw comparisons with a model showing proper sitting posture and proper standing posture. Now that you’ve learned about what proper sitting posture looks like and why almost no one sits like Daphne does, at least for extended time periods such as an hour to even the length of an eight-hour workday, what do you intend to do to give your body the care it needs so you can reach the health mountaintop with regard to physical fitness?
If summitting the health mountaintop sounds like it’s too much to take on, just remember there are lots of senior citizens who walk with painful-looking shuffles or with canes or walkers in hand. Others are bound to their couches all day and night, and still others are completely bedridden. All these folks wish they’d done more for their health. I know what all this looks like. My grandmother could barely move in her 80s and 90s, and plenty of other relatives have faced severely limited mobility from their 50s onward.
Most aren’t aware of this, but poor joint alignment and posture affects every system in the body, from the cardiovascular, digestive and immune to the metabolic, nervous and respiratory systems. If you want to feel extraordinary when you sit, stand, walk, run, exercise and otherwise move your body and if you want to feel a special kind of joy and ease today and for the rest of your life, you’ll benefit in more ways than you can imagine from embarking on your own Posture Exercises Method journey.
Too Much Sitting Can Make for Short, Tight Hip Flexors, Throwing off Your Gait and Triggering Strain and Pain
Any discussion of sitting must bring up the all-important psoas and iliacus muscles commonly referred to as the iliopsoas and colloquially known as the hip flexors. The iliopsoas is the only muscle in the body that connects the upper and lower parts of the body. The hip flexors are tasked with helping stabilize the standing leg while initiating the opposite leg’s swing while a person walks.
Many lead such sedentary lives that their hip flexors have hijacked function from their bodies’ gait muscles. The hip flexors and upper body can still be engaged while sitting if you’re tapping away at a keyboard or reaching for a desk phone to dial numbers. The hip flexors can wind up shortening and tightening while the gait muscles, including the glutes, become weaker and weaker to the point of atrophying. This state can contribute significantly to compensation, limitation, more functional loss and chronic pain, especially back pain, as well as produce balance difficulty. Balance is important at any age, but as a person gets up in age, this skill becomes ultra-critical as reflexes slow down.
In the Posture Exercises Method, a key restful and mostly passive exercise that serves as the linchpin for best results can help correct short and tight hip flexors by lengthening and softening the iliopsoas. Combined with routines of exercises designed to correct joint alignment and posture and strengthen muscles, this exercise can help return fluidity to your gait.
A Posture Exercises Method Practice Is the Path to Restoring Proper Sitting Posture and Proper Standing Posture, Putting You in Position to Tackle Modern Living
I embraced a practically daily posture exercises practice in April 2010 and have not missed a single day of practice since September 2016, or, on the date of this story’s publication, 1,102 consecutive days. My Posture Exercises Method practice ensures I’m ready for not just the current day but the following days.
This health thing, this life—I’m in it to win it! This is why I have signed the dotted line in committing to myself to do my posture exercises every day for the rest of my life. In nature, there were no days off if we wanted to eat. We’d have climbed banana trees and the like, getting ripped along the way. Nowadays, modern living is suppressing our bodies, and we’re doing all kinds of unnatural activities, including sitting in front of computers for eight or more hours a day. Some others earn their livings through the use of different equipment, and some of these folks—from factory workers to professional athletes—are using one side of their bodies more than the other side.
So if you want to feel rip-roaring fantastic, this is why posture exercises are needed and best done every day. Small children to great-great-grandparents and everyone in between are suited for a Posture Exercises Method practice, which can scale easily depending on a client’s schedule, with those willing to invest more time getting the best and fastest results.
Most folks who choose to make a Posture Exercises Method practice a part of their lives suffer from chronic pain, which is their body’s way of screaming at them throughout each day to get help. If you suffer from chronic pain, odds are you’re not going to get better—you likely will get worse—unless you take steps to correct your pain symptoms.
My Posture Exercises Method is better equipped than chiropractic and massage treatments along with traditional physical therapy, yoga, pilates and any other form of physical activity when it comes to providing lasting pain relief and improving peak performance. I base this bold statement on my longtime experience and feedback clients have shared with me since 2016. The reasons for this are quite simple: The Posture Exercises Method is designed to identify and eliminate the cause(s) of chronic pain. All the aforementioned modalities are not designed to do this and will always keep a health-minded individual from reaching their physical pinnacle.
My Posture Exercises Method has been shaped to address your body’s needs, and the exercise routines I build individually for clients are constructed to help put their bodies in a neutral position and strengthen posture muscles. Even clients who couldn’t stand exercising beforehand marvel at how easily they take to a Posture Exercises Method practice. When you give your body what it needs—and don’t engage in physical activity that takes your body farther away from where it needs to go—you stand to warm up quickly to a daily or practically daily practice.
A Posture Exercises Method practice along with some cardio activity such as short bursts of pedal-to-the-medal calisthenics, walking and sprinting, may fulfill all your body’s requirements for physical activity. I savor my workouts more and more as the days pass. I continually fine-tune my approach in pursuit of perfection. In 2019, I revolutionized my approach to exercise and am getting the best results of my life with my Posture Exercises Method, joint alignment and posture as well as in overall strength, conditioning and performance.
If you’re someone suffering from chronic pain, wanting to achieve peak performance in athletics or desiring to give your body the best in life, your embrace of a Posture Exercises Method practice is bound to give you plenty of fist-pumping gusto moments.
Get started with me today!