On August 21, 2018, Jenn Sherer was interviewed for “Good Morning America” in a segment titled “How changing the way you sit can help decrease back pain.” Jenn worked with Jean Couch at the Balance Center until it closed earlier this year.

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Jenn mentions that it’s not sustainable to lift the chest all day long. It’s exhausting and can make your back sore. When you notice that you’re slumped, rather than tightening everything in an attempt to “sit up straight”, re-seat yourself, making sure that you bend at your hip joints as you sit down.

Following the segment featuring Jenn Sherer, Dr. Jennifer Ashton gave instructions for healthy sitting. She said to work the muscles in the front of the body to relax the back. When she demonstrated this, she told people to “sit up straight” to create slack in the back muscles. However, the action she demonstrated actually TIGHTENS your back muscles. I wondered if she had actually watched the segment with Jenn. I doubt it.

I do agree with her instruction to sit on the sitz bones, but she said to engage the core. When we observe healthy people with pain-free posture, they relax when they sit. They’re not “engaging their core” muscles in order to stay straight. When the bones are aligned with the vertical axis of gravity, the muscles can relax. Dr. Ashton did mention being on a straight line, but the text on the screen said “Core Engaged – Suck It In!”. That is definitely not what we teach in Balance/Spinefulness.

I agree with her recommending people to not cross the thighs. We also don’t see this with healthy cultures.

Dr. Ashton told people to sit down, but with no mention of bending from the hip joints, the major point that Jenn made about how to sit.

Dr. Ashton was asked about high-tech options – and she mentioned a beeper that tells you when you’re slouching, and a ball to sit on. I definitely don’t recommend that people sit on those exercise balls. They are unstable, and cause the back and abdominal muscles to continually tense. A chronically tense muscle gets less circulation and eventually weakens.

Sitting is sometimes referred to as “the new smoking” these days. We see people in less industrialized cultures that sit for many hours a day without back pain. The key to their health is HOW they are sitting. They sit on their sitz bones with the spine stacked vertically and their muscles relaxed.

Of course, it’s important to move your body too. These people in other cultures may walk more than we do in the industrialized world. So, make sure to get up and take breaks from time to time to help with circulation and alertness, and get regular exercise, which we all know is an essential component of good health. And when you sit, align yourself and then relax!

© Dana K. Davis, 2018. All Rights Reserved.