Nothing’s as good as it used to be — including, probably, the chair you’re sitting in right now. While they used to be designed with the human form in mind, now most chairs — whether it’s in the office or at home in living room — are too soft and too deep, according to Jean Couch (not a pun), who gives lectures and workshops on yoga, movement and stretching.
Soft chairs force our body into a C-shape, while deep chairs ensure we can’t rest our feet on the ground without slouching. That, in turn, affects how we sit, giving us serious back pain. Couch showed NPR how to sit properly, even in the softest chair. Here are her tips:
Sit at the Edge of the Chair
Ideally, you don’t want your pelvis to fall behind your hips while sitting, which leads to that uncomfortable C-shape. So Couch suggests finding a chair with a frame and sitting on the edge of it, ignoring the back rest. She also says it’s better to keep your knees below your hips, so keep your legs at a 120 degree-angle, rather than a 90 degree-angle.
Tilt Your Pelvis
Use a firm pillow, jacket or whatever you have to create a perch. Place it several centimetres from the front of the chair, and sit on the front edge of it, Couch suggests, so that your pelvis is tilted forward. This prevents you from slouching into the dreaded C-shape, and makes it easier to angle your legs.
Hack Your Car Seat
The one place you won’t be able to sit at the edge of your seat, for safety reasons, is in your car. And “there’s a big problem with the backrests in many cars and aeroplanes: They are shaped like C’s,” writes NPR. “If you use them properly, they force you to slump and bend your spine.”
Instead, sit against the back and head rest, but wedge your perch prop (again, that could be a jumper, foam roller, or anything else you have) between the small of your back and the car seat, to transform your shape from a C to an I. This will help ensure you have better posture and avoid pain during your morning commute or a long car ride.