Optimal Sitting Position

Do you have a job that requires you to sit for an extended period of time? Do you have to drive to and from places due to geography? Do you sit down to have dinner or even on the couch to watch TV with your friends/family?

Most of you are probably answering “yes” to one or all of the above phrases.

The Mayo clinic talked about the risks associated with too much sitting. Some people even compared sitting for long periods of time to smoking. So their solution was to focus on getting up and moving more often. This is great advice, but still, we need to sit on occasion.

So what if you are dealing with sciatica pain that gets worse with sitting? How can we do an activity that requires no energy while dealing with sciatica pain?

The simple solution is: don’t sit. 

But in all seriousness, minimizing the incidences in which you feel pain will help out with recovery.

However, there will be times when we have no choice but to sit. How can we make it more manageable? How can we modify the activity (or lack thereof) to experience minimal pain?

Self exploration is the key to this.

When we are sitting, there are two major surfaces that support our weight. The sit bones (medical term “ischial tuberosities”) and our butt. Your sit bones are located exactly where your thigh meets your butt. 

If you shift your weight to your sit bones, you’ll be more upright, a little more of an arch in your low back, and you’ll be distributing your weight on the backs of your thighs as well. This is really helpful for folks who have pain when sitting, but feel better when standing up. This technique is also helpful for those dealing with a herniated disc.

If you shift your weight backwards onto your buttocks, you’ll be a little more ‘hunched’ and the back will flatten or round forward just a bit. This is very helpful for people who are dealing with stenosis and arthritis. They need opportunities to open up the back portion of the spine to relieve any nerve pressure.

The third option is to sit between these two positions. So that means you are neither rounded or arched and placed in a more neutral position.

The last option is being a little experimental. Perhaps place a small cushion under one buttock and see how it feels. The side will be dependent on what feels the best for you.

If you can, also tie in getting up from the chair for 5 minutes, every hour. This will break up the monotony as well as improve joint fluidity.

Sitting itself is an activity that we will have to do in our life. It is important to find the most comfortable position for you as you are doing it. Regardless of your diagnosis (or in the absence of it) finding the most tolerable position will be in your best interest.

What are some other sitting strategies that you’ve implemented that work for you? I’d love to hear them.


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