For you to sit and work at your computer in an easy, upright, open posture that feels good AND helps you feel and look confident, it’s important to be in balance – literally. When we’re not in balance we basically end up compensating by using extra tension to hold ourselves up. This means we’re tight or compressed, which not only leads to functional problems (such as a sore neck or back, or even RSI), it also means we’re sending ourselves signals that lead to anxiety and feelings of powerlessness. This is true even if we have collapsed our body into a slump – what you might think of as a more relaxed posture.
Last week I introduced the concept of cultivating awareness while at the computer, and we explored the benefits of having awareness of the space around us. Now I want us to expand our awareness to include how and where we balance, something we may not typically think about when we sit working at the computer.
In order to sit in balance, we need to know what part of the body we should be balancing on – both intellectually and through experience.
When sitting, the appropriate balancing points (weight-bearing points) are the sit bones (or sitting bones or sitz bones). The correct anatomical term is the ischael tuberosities, and they are the two bony protuberances at the base of the pelvis.
Get to Know Your Sit Bones!
It’s important to be able to locate your sit bones in your own body. After all, if you can’t do that, how can you hope to balance on them?
So let’s find them:
- Sit toward the middle of your chair.
- Put your hands under your bottom (buttocks)! The sit bones are big and bony and you can feel them, right through the most “cushy” part!
- Shift your weight around so that you are more or less balanced over them, so the bones are “pointing” down into your seat. Notice that there is some play – that you can rock back and forth a little as you rest on them.
If we balance on the right part of our skeleton for the job, our muscles don’t need to work so hard to keep us upright.
Now, see what happens when you DON’T balance on them:
With your hands under your sit bones slowly let yourself curl in a slump. As you do so notice your sit bones slide forward. Instead of resting on them, you are now resting on the bottom of your spine! You might also notice what’s happened to your entire back and your head. What may feel more relaxed actually contains lots of compression and tension.
Come back to that more balanced place, still with your hands underneath your sit bones.
Now “sit up straight” by arching your back and pulling your chest up and shoulders back (what is often mistakenly thought of as good posture). You’ll notice you’re not really on your sit bones anymore – they’re now pointing back a little, and instead you are using your legs to hold you up, AND a lot of tension! Likely your whole back (including your neck) is rigid and tense, and you’re probably holding your breath, too! No wonder we can’t maintain this for long – nor should we!
Knowing where to balance helps us use our skeletal structure to support us, and in turn means we don’t need extra muscular tension to hold ourselves upright. As I continue with this series we will consider many other things, but having a more accurate understanding and awareness of our sit bones – and sitting on them – as we work at the computer is the foundation of having a naturally upright, expansive and comfortable posture – the kind of posture which promotes creativity and productivity, and inspires confidence in ourselves and others.
This week take time to be aware of your sit bones from time to time as you work. See if simply by noticing them something shifts in the way you are sitting. Now you’ll have something to build on.
And if you usually stand to work (though I’m sure you sit sometimes!), I’ll consider alternative positions later in this series.
Did you follow along as you read this blog and locate your sit bones for yourself? Was this new to you? Are you usually balanced on your sit bones while you work at the computer? If not, what’s your usual mode of sitting while you work?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Top image © AnaBGD / 123RF Stock Photo.