PATIENT EDUCATION:  Sitting Posture #1

Rarely do we think of how we are sitting. Often, we are given a chair at work or purchase a chair for home without ever trying it out by seeing how it fits our body type.

Most people are unaware that chairs are designed for a certain height range. Do you know what it is? (see image below)

People outside of this height range have to make compensations to be able to sit somewhat comfortably. Individuals below this height, typically females, tend to tuck their feet back so they can tip-toe balance on the chair. Males above this height range also tend to tuck their feet in order to get their knees out of their chests.

As the feet tuck back, this leads to shortening of the calf muslces (gastrocnemius and soleus). The increased knee flexion also leads to shortening of the hamstrings and the popliteus. With the feet unsupported, the pelvis tilts anteriorly which leads to compensatory arching of the low back (lumbar hyperextension) which shortens the lumbar paraspinals, thoracolumbar fascia and latissimus dorsi. The majority of these are components of the Posterior Fascial Line from Anatomy Trains. This can lead to pain in the primarily in the ankles but may also affect the knees, hips, low back and even the neck and shoulders with tightness initially but progressing to pain with prolonged abnormal use.

A better option would be to make the chair compensate to you. If you are shorter than the range, use a small box or phone book under your feet to bring the floor closer to you. If you are taller than the chair range, placing a pillow or cushion in the seat to make it taller would be beneficial.