"I sit in front of my computer for ten hours a day at work. My back and neck are always tight and I simply can't get comfortable".

As a Postural Therapist, one of the questions that I'm asked most often is "What can I do to sit comfortably and Pain-free?".
In order to answer this question, let's gain a simple understanding of how the body is designed to move. Natural Movement for the spine is to fully flex (picture above on the right) and extend (picture above on the left) one vertebrae at a time. This occurs when our bones are in the right position and controlled sequentially by the 'right' muscles. The best template for optimal sitting posture is a toddler, who sits in a natural extended position at the end of a chair, without having to consciously think about it.

Whether it's a function of sitting too much in the wrong position, compensating due to injury, or daily patterns creating imbalances, the spine loses the ability to naturally flex and extend, and we might develop a disconnect (tension, lock) somewhere along the spine. When this happens, we cannot fully flex and extend the spine to sit up straight (picture below on the left).

In order to see ahead, our eyes have to be level - if we trace the model on the left below, her eyes would be tilted down if her head simply followed the angle of her upper back; so she tilts her head up. Well, that's not going to happened, so she begins to overuse the wrong muscles to look up or maintain the sitting position. This moves her bones out of naturally alignment, which can create a downward cycle of pain, strain, and injury.
The model above mimics a client of mine who has had lumbar disc herniations and constant tension in his neck. While natural flexion and extension of the spine allows the strain (energy) of the movement to be fully balanced, with tension in the spine at mid-thoracic (chest) level, the energy of the movement will not be able to dissipate, and get jammed either above or below the body lock.

What are the areas right above and below that site of tension??? His lower back and neck. Thus, it made completely sense to me as to why his lower back discs herniated and neck is always tight! AND, if we were to only address those specific areas of pain, it might not address the root cause of the issue to feel good long-term.

What can we do?
We want to give the body (spine) the ability to fully flex extend as naturally as possible. The two exercises in the video below are a great mini-sequecne you can do throughout the day at work. The Sitting Cats and Dogs exercise begins to re-pattern natural movement and put the bones in an optimal sitting position. Putting the bones in the right place is Step One. We also want to give the body the tools to maintain the optimal sitting position by engaging the deep postural chain of muscles (anti-gravity Kinetic Chain - Dr. Andrew Buser & Markus Greus). The Sitting Knee Pillow Squeezes is Step two in allowing the body to sit naturally, optimally, and pain-free.

Please enjoy the short video below in which I teach you these two exercises and suggest how you might implement them throughout your day.
To review, our sitting position is a function of posture overall. If we're locked somewhere along in our spine, have a shoulder/pelvis rotation, or offset (ie. ribs shifted laterally) our ability to flex and extend will be diminished and we might not be able to sit optimally and pain-free (this is analyzed on a highly individualized level). The simple exercises in the video are a great one-two punch on a very general level to create new, optimal patterns for sitting comfortably and naturally.

As many of you often share with me, I'll be excited to hear your feedback once you begin to apply these exercises to your daily (work) routine.


Joey Zimet

Postural Therapist
(917) 589-5446

Ed. M. Candidate; Applied Physiology
Teachers College, Columbia University