You would be an extreme minority if your life did not include sitting throughout the day. Whether it is in the car, at the desk, in meetings, eating or reading – we all have to sit.
Pain from sitting can vary from a stiff neck, or headaches at the base of the skull and can travel further up into the eyes, to a tightness in the shoulders that just doesn’t ease no matter how much you stretch. Physiotherapy is excellent at joint mobilisation to fix neck stiffness, reduce headaches and relax muscles, reducing pain in shoulder and other areas. But you have to change the way you sit to break the cycle.
So what is the right way to sit?
If you do have pain sitting, then you definitely need to examine your posture. Ideally you want to spend the majority of the day in a neutral posture where the joint is in the middle and the slow twitch posture muscles are holding you up.
Active Extension Posture is the upright position; where you overuse muscles to hold yourself up straight. The muscles to hold up your neutral posture should be your slow twitch posture muscles. However when you sit too upright, you have to start to use the fast twitch power muscles. They are naturally designed for shorter, powerful bursts and should be used when recruited for heavy loading activities. So if overusing your power muscles to sit, when you actually need them to lift weights at the gym, lift the shopping out of the car, mow the lawn or carry the kids, they are tired and sore before you even start, hence the heavy shoulders with a constant knotted feeling in them.
Neutral posture is where the joints and ligaments are in a loose packed position in mid-range and the posture – not power – muscles are working comfortably. Have a practice of this posture by slouching, then moving into a too upright posture and then soften. This is neutral where your head is in line with your shoulders, a s shaped spine and easy to hold.
Physiotherapy can treat your neck pain and then teach you the correct posture for sitting. It might feel strange until you get used to this new normal, but your headache and pain in the shoulder will thank you for it!