In the last 100 years jobs have transitioned into office buildings and have progressively become more and more sedentary. This shift has happened so quickly that the human anatomy has not had a chance to evolve or adapt to transition from standing for 12 hours per day to sitting for 12 hours per day.
As physiotherapists, we get bombarded with questions about posture and sitting positions on a regular basis (including at our kids’ birthday parties…not cool). This shows the dire need there is out there for widespread, scientifically sound education on the topic. Unfortunately, our healthcare system is designed that it is financially advantageous for healthcare providers to treat your pain rather than to teach you how to not have pain in the first place.
While catchy slogans like ‘sitting is the new smoking’ are bringing awareness to the topic, many of our patients are frustrated because they just simply can’t NOT sit at work. It is important to keep in mind that sitting should be limited as much as possible and every opportunity to stand up and move around throughout the day should be seized. But just like we shouldn’t expect the whole world to become vegan in the next 50 years, we should not expect people to stop sitting for a double-digit number of hours every day anytime soon.
This means that at least one of our priorities should be sitting comfortably in a way that would reduce strain and pain.
Over the years my views on posture have evolved. I originally preached to my patients the need for constant awareness and correction of slouching as frequently as possible. Although I believed that an ergonomic set up was important, I spent many treatment sessions with my patients strengthening postural muscles. I did that because I was taught to think that stronger postural muscles will allow my patients to resist slouching and hold their posture up longer, thereby avoiding the devastating disaster that is ‘bad posture’.
I was devastatingly wrong. It is impossible to hold yourself up in an erect position while sitting all day. It is a losing battle. When we try to hold ourselves up in good posture for multiple hours per day, we get back pain. Our postural muscles are not designed for the prolonged sitting we put them through. Instead, resting our backs on a supportive and comfortable back rest allows us to stay in a good position, maintain a mild backward curve in the low back (lumbar lordosis), rest our postural muscles with the upper back erect (reduced thoracic kyphosis).
Essentially, good sitting posture should not be a battle of attrition for our muscles to see how long they can hold our backs in a good position. Its about frequent movement between positions and the proper set up of our environment so that when we are sitting, we do not have to work to be in a good position.
That’s where a good lumbar cushion can be helpful. Its not designed to hold you in good posture or push you to use your muscles while sitting. Instead its meant to allow your back to relax in a good position that will not put undue stress on the spine or overuse the postural muscles. It is still critical to remember that sitting less is still the ultimate objective, but if you must sit, you should have a supportive and relaxing cushion behind you.
Our Gemini Health Group lumbar cushion is different from any other cushion you may have tried before. It was designed by a physiotherapist with scientifically accurate principles that keep you comfortable as well as pain free while you sit. Its two straps ensure that the cushion stays in place, and its amazing soft but supportive memory foam is more comfortable than any other cushion on the market. At $44.25 its also much cheaper than the expensive brands that have dominated the back-support market historically.
With all that being said, any cushion that reduces your reliance on your postural muscles while keeping you sitting tall and straight comfortably is better than none. Sitting at the edge of your seat and using your back muscles all day is a losing battle that always ends with one thing, back pain!