The Best Way to Sit


Whether you're back to sitting waaaaaay too much because you're back in school or it's just a normal part of your work day, you might as well choose to sit in a way that will best avoid pain and promote good musculoskeletal alignment. 

These recommendations are based on the postural patterns we assume when we are not musculoskeletally stable (i.e. Are experiencing pain or poor posture) as defined by PRI. They are for someone presenting as a left AIC and/or right BC person (Don't remember what that means? Review it here). These will be most impactful after seeing a therapist at Integrate 360 for a thorough evaluation. Not only will this let you know what pattern you are in, we can customize the recommendations for you - no guess work!

1) Sit with your knees at hip height or higher. This allows your pelvis and lower back to stay in a neutral or slightly rounded position. Most furniture is made for people who are 5'8". If you are shorter than this, your knees are likely lower than your hips. This pulls your pelvis forward which will arch your back and create pain. You can always put a footrest, or even your backpack, under your feet to bring them up. Also be sure to get rid of any lumbar support or roll you may be using. This will put your lumbar spine in too much extension or arch.

2) Feel your heels. Make sure that your heels are in contact with the ground. Pushing up onto your toes and not being able to get your heels to the ground subconsciously tells your brain to activate the calves and other extensor muscle groups. This sets your body up for failure when it's time for you to get up and move. Your brain is not prepared to use all of your muscle groups appropriately to move you forward. Plus, if your heels cannot reach the ground, there's no way your knees are at hip height.

3) Shift your left hip back. Pretend there is a spool of thread between your knees that you are trying to pull closer toward you as you pull your left knee back toward you. Our pelvis' tend to get stuck pointing toward the right when we get out of a good musculoskeletal position. This will help to pull the pelvic back toward the left, placing it in a much more neutral position.

4) Lower your left shoulder. Our diaphragms are much stronger on the right side than the left. This causes us to bend our trunks to the right slightly and lower our right shoulder. By bending back toward the left, crunching our left abdominal wall, or simply lowering our left shoulder, we help to better align our spines.

5) Reach across your body. Because of that diaphragm position and right hand dominance, we tend to reach with our right hands a lot. Reaching with you left hand makes your brain more aware of the left side of your body which will help to keep your posture symmetrical. It will also help to keep your body moving in a reciprocal and alternating way - the way our bodies should move all of the time! Unfortunately, in this world of sustained sitting and repetitive movements, this is harder and harder to incorporate into a normal day. This can lead to repetitive movement injuries and pain. 

6) TAKE BREAKS AND MOVE! Easier said than done, we know, especially if you're in a classroom. But try to take breaks as much as possible. Get up and move around. It can be simply walking to the back of the class to the front, using the restroom, or getting a glass of water. Keeping our bodies moving keeps them healthy, and you awake!

Please contact us at 314-733-5000 or or for more information. 

Are Standing Desks All They're Cracked Up To Be?

Image from Google Images "standing desk"

Image from Google Images "standing desk"

Lately there has been a lot of information that sitting all day puts us at a much higher risk for obesity, diabetes, pain, and other potentially life-limiting issues. Therefore, one would think that standing for a portion of the work day would be a great way to combat this, right?

Although merely changing your position and burning a few more calories while standing are good things, the standing desk may not help with low back pain or sciatica that you've been feeling after a few hours at work.

If you are planning on getting a standing desk to help with pain you may be experiencing, keep in mind that simply standing up may not be enough to ease your discomfort. Most of us, pain or no pain, have postural abnormalities. Chances are, if you do experience pain, yours are a little worse than most. In order to make the most out of standing at work, you need to be sure you do so without falling into these postural problems.

When we stand, most people tend to have too much arch in their lower back, a forwardly tipped pelvis, and stand with our weight on our toes (especially if you're wearing heels, ladies!). These issues cause our weight to be put onto our lower backs causing low back pain. When this happens, our stabilizing muscles are not able to work efficiently and we must compensate with others, such as our piriformis, causing possible sciatica and other discomfort.

How can you make the most out of your standing time?

Shift your weight- When we try to stand "correctly," with equal weight on both feet and standing erect, we tend to fall into the pattern described above. Try shifting your weight from side to side throughout your standing time, but be sure to share time between legs as most of us will "pick a leg" and stand on just that side for a majority of the time. Let's say you pick your left leg to stand on: pretend you have a quarter under your left heel and try to center your body weight over it. Placing your right foot slightly ahead of your left, with your toes pointed forward, will help accomplish this. If you're doing this correctly, you'll notice your pant zipper is aligned over your left big toe. This will keep your weight on your heel and your back in a more neutral position.

Pick the right shoes- Sure, many of us have certain dress codes we have to meet which usually means uncomfortable dress shoes for men and heels for women. No one said you have to wear them every minute of every day. Either bring a pair of tennis shoes to work, or buy a pair that you keep under your desk. When you want to stand, switch your shoes. This will not only make your feet more comfortable, it will help keep your weight on your heels appropriately.

Don't do it too long- Our bodies were just not made to hold a static position for more than 20 minutes. Even if you're shifting your weight from side to side, try to take a break every 30 minutes and walk a few steps around your office/cube, go to the bathroom, or refill that cup of coffee. No amount of will (or stubbornness) can beat anatomical and biomechanical design.

Change it up- Whether you're sitting or standing, we tend to set up our desks/work stations and leave them that way permanently. This is a problem because you are causing repetitive movements to take place which cause microtraumas to our tissues as well as possibly feed into our poor postural habits. Try moving your water or coffee to the left of the computer and the stapler to the right this week. Keep things interesting for your body so it doesn't begin to wear out!


How to Survive Your Thanksgiving Cooking

Image via google images

Image via google images

Unfortunately, we can’t help you tolerate your mother-in-law’s endless “opinions” about your recipe choices and cooking techniques, but we have some tips that will help ease the back or knee pain that so many of us experience after cooking for a length of time.  

Many of us tend to stand with one, or several of the following: knees locked back or hyperextended, pelvis tipped forward, exaggerated arch in the low back, weight on our toes versus our heels. This posture may not seemingly create much, if any, pain when only standing for short durations, but can really start to become problematic when we stay in this posture for too long or are lifting heavy pots and pans with this faulty alignment. Here are some quick ways to keep that pain at bay for as long as possible:

  1. Take breaks. So many of us become focused on getting the task done as fast as possible, we “tune out” our bodies. Our bodies are not meant to stand for more than 30 minutes at a time and when we aren’t listening to its subtle cues, our pain levels can easily escalate before we realize there’s a problem. Try setting an egg timer for every 20-30 minutes. When the timer goes off, sit down, walk around, just do something other than standing in place. Feel like you can’t stop mid-recipe? Set up a card table with a chair and sit when you’re prepping ingredients.

  2.  Wear comfortable shoes. You’re likely going to change into some nicer attire, or freshen up to get the onion smell off of you, before your guests come over. Therefore, you may as well wear the most appropriate things while cooking. Although flats and minimalist running shoes may feel comfortable on your feet, they allow your heel bones to rotate and arches to fall. When your feet aren’t able to support the weight of your body appropriately, you will find “easy,” or compensatory, ways to try to give your body that support. We usually “hang on our ligaments” or “lock our bodies out” to do this, i.e. locking our knees or arching our backs.

  3. Don’t lean. When our postural muscles that help hold us upright get tired, we’ll find other ways to hold ourselves up. It’s very common to arch our backs, rotate our pelvis forward, and lean our hips against the countertop or kitchen sink. This puts a majority of our body weight directly onto our lumbar spines (low back) and forces us to lock our knees out.

  4. Avoid twisting. Not everyone has a gourmet kitchen with ample room. Often, we’re cooking in a small space because of the kitchen size and/or the family standing over our shoulders trying to sneak a taste before dinner time. With that, we tend to twist our upper bodies and back as we reach to another spoon, pot, etc. Instead, move your feet. Our feet should always be below our hips, hip width apart, with our toes forward. So as you reach over to get that colander, take some steps to get there instead of just twisting your body or overreaching.

  5. Make someone else do the dishes. For goodness sakes, if you just did enough cooking to need to read this article, you deserve a break!

Image via google images

Image via google images