"Sitting is a place where you can find heaven in your joints and in your back" -Jenn Sherer
Around the end of my first year at PCCW in San Jose, CA I began having back pain for the first time in my injury filled life. There have concussions, car accidents, something with a ceiling fan, fall off a wall, knee injury, shoulder itis and then when horses got involved add more falls, throws, steps and slams. Yet no back pain. So why now, when I am probably the least likely to be injured that I've ever been.
So naturally, I went to see my chiropractor. He recommended I attend a "sitting and standing" class reasoning there was a good possibility all the school related sitting was the cause of my pain. Initially I was skeptical, my posture was decent compared to most people I knew (my mom was kind of a sticker about that). But apparently the amount of class, study time with the added stress was sending me C-ward.
You may have heard or read the phrase "sitting is the new smoking".
A recent anthropologic study shows that while other groups might spend more time active than Americans, they sit or are in resting postures about the same amount of time. On average other groups spent around 10 hrs a day sitting where we state side spend 9-13 on average.
So if it isn't the time spent sitting, it must be how we sit.
The next time you are out peopling take a look at how other humans sit. Not face on, but respectfully check out that side profile. Look at the shape of their spine. Do you notice a pattern?
There is a high probability that with most the back is in the "C" posture (aka the grief/stress/anxiety/depression posture).
This posture is what causes so much harm to our backs. When we chronically sit in "C" postures the shock absorbers (disks) in between each bone (vertebrae) in our back can become damaged.
Our spines are designed in their shape to help distribute the forces evenly throughout it so that no disc or joint it receiving undue strain. However when we are C-ing it puts more pressure on the front side of the disc. When that occurs over time the back side of the discs can degenerate, are weaker or a portion of it could begin to bulge and compress nerves.
In the studio when someone is asked to sit up straight, immediately it is the upper body that responds. One will immediately thrust their shoulders back and stick their chest out. Lifting your chest in this way actually will make your back pain worse.
Finding that comfortable neutral posture does not involve the chest and shoulders, but rather to the pelvis. The pelvis serves as the base of our spine and without a solid foundation everything built above will lack stability.
So let's create a good foundation.
I remember in the sitting class an analogy similar to this, take a moment and do it with me.
First, imagine that you had a tail.
Sit in the C-posture visualizing the you have a nice luxurious floofy tail. As you sit there, notice that you would be sitting directly on your tail, having it poke through the front of you legs.
To straighten that out we need to let that tail fly free!
Take a minute and stand up. Then start to sit down. Where do you bend?
Are you bending at the waist or at the hips?
Practice sitting bending at both, which one has you sitting on your tail and which has you sitting like your tail is out behind you wagging?
Hopefully it was the hip bend.
Hip hinge into a seated position with you imaginary tail out is keep to setting up a solid foundation.
Then simply relax the muscles in your back and chest and allow your spine to stack up naturally.
Now do a little seated dance because you spine feels so happy .