Sitting gets so much bad press these days, it’s almost becoming a taboo! Headlines such as “Sitting – the silent killer!” or “Sedentary lifestyles cause long-term health problems” give us all cause to worry when we’re at our desks at least eight hours a day. But excuse us if we’re not quite ready to follow the trend of standing desks or treadmill workstations. So what’s a working girl to do if she ever has to sit down? It’s enough to throw you into a wild panic!
What we really need to do is learn how to sit well. And apparently it’s not that hard. Here, Alexander Technique and posture expert Angela Bradshaw talks us through healthy sitting techniques….
Angela says: “Listen – Sit happens! But only when you let it, and allow your own body to support you in a natural way. Sitting naturally, in line with our perfect human design absolutely will have no harmful effect on your health, now or in the future. So stop worrying that working at your desk might be slowly killing you!
“The difficulty arises when we ask how can we actually learn how to sit in the correct way? And the fact is, you’ve known how to do this since you first learned to sit, as a baby. Your body’s own intelligence knows perfectly well how to organize itself into best alignment, balance and coordination. But along the way we have all built up personal habits that have interfered with this mechanism. Slumping over desks is something that we’ve learned to do, so it stands to reason that we can unlearn it too! What a relief!
“Our modern lifestyles have encouraged us to develop unhelpful and harmful postural habits. Slouching over a laptop or resting a phone on your shoulder comes as naturally as breathing. Well, technology is here to stay but we can learn how to interact with these gadgets in a more natural way. Sitting will continue to make up a large part of our modern lifestyle. For example we sit in the car, on the train, on a bus, on an airplane. We also sit in restaurants, at meetings, in the cinema, at the theatre, in a football stadium, watching tennis, watching TV, in the workplace, at the computer. So how can we go about this daily activity with more awareness and improve our coordination and functioning in the process? We can learn to increase our body awareness and improve our mind-body connection by noticing how we go about this practice.
“This is something I had to learn too. I succumbed to a Repetitive Strain Injury in 2007 as a result of my own poor postural habits that had accumulated over my lifetime. I was fortunate enough to discover the work of F.M. Alexander at the peak of my injury, just when I’d given up all hope of improving my own health! I managed to cure my own RSI naturally by applying the principles of the Alexander Technique to myself every day. And my injury healed quickly. My rheumatologist was not expecting that!
“For many people the Alexander Technique is a last resort option, it was that way for me too. But it truly is one of the most powerful tools you could ever come across. I believe everyone should know about it too! Who wouldn’t want to know how to improve their balance, coordination, health, posture and learn how to manage their own body and wellness purely by thinking appropriately about it?
“You’re probably sitting to read this article now. Let me talk you through how you can improve your own sitting posture immediately with a little bit of thought. Where are your feet at this moment? Notice what they are doing and where they are. Are they making contact with the floor? In what way? Ideally you want both feet firmly on the ground. And you want them directly underneath your knee-joint too, is that happening in you? I doubt it! But take a moment to notice your habit before changing the arrangement of your feet and lower legs so that they can support you more fully. Now notice where your knees are. Are they tracking out directly from your hips? I doubt that too! Especially if you are female! Ladies have been conditioned to bring their knees together to be polite. This is not natural! If possible make sure your hips are higher than your knees. You might have to come to the edge of your chair for this to happen.
“Now find your seatbones. Make sure you are sitting on them. How is your body weight being distributed on them? Is one taking more weight than the other? Ideally you want both seat bones taking the weight of your torso equally. Now make sure your head is freely balancing on top of your spine. It should be directly over your ribcage and pelvis in alignment. If it’s not you know there’s room for improvement. If you need to come closer to the screen to read, hinge from your hips, leave your whole spine intact while you do this. Interesting? There’s lots to learn I know but it is so worth it if you’re interested in improving your wellness.”
Angela’s recently published book, Be In Balance is a simple introduction to this work borne out of her personal mission to bring Alexander Technique into the mainstream. Many people are needlessly suffering with postural issues which may well lead on to future pathological disease in themselves.
For more information go to www.angelabradshaw.com