Sitting

Take breaks.

One of the best ways to reduce symptoms is to spend less time sitting still. If you can take breaks often, take advantage of this. Get up and walk around, and try out exercises like the Chest Stretch and Shoulder Retraction to ease symptoms. Good ways to force breaks upon yourself are to set hourly reminders on your phone or drink lots of water so that you need to get up often to use the toilet. If you’re driving, stop at regular intervals throughout the trip.

Optimize your ergonomics.

Whether you’re at work, in the car, or at home on the couch, adjustments to your environment can help to lessen symptoms.

Start with your seat. Sit with your lower back firmly against the backrest. If you’re able to, adjust the seat so that your feet are flat on the floor and your hips are just above your knees. This can reduce tension in the hips.

If you’re at a desk with a computer, adjust the desk so that your shoulders are relaxed away from your ears when your forearms rest on the surface. The top third of your computer screen should be at eye level, so you don’t need to bend the neck to look at the screen. If you are working on a laptop, try elevating it on top of some books and use a remote keyboard and mouse.

Exercise while you sit.

Try performing the Seated Pelvic Tilt or Drawing In exercises while you sit to keep the lower back active, as this will help support the mid-back as you sit. Periodically performing the Shoulder Retraction and Neck Stretch exercises while sitting will target the mid-back more directly. Doing a set of these exercises every hour can be a simple way to improve neuromuscular control during an otherwise sedentary activity.

Sit mindfully.

Forcing the back into an arch or letting it collapse into a slump often provoke symptoms. Attempting to maintain a neutral pelvis and retracted head and shoulders can mitigate symptoms in the back.

If you are having trouble controlling the position of the pelvis and lower back when you sit, practice the Seated Pelvic Tilt exercise to improve. You can also place a rolled-up item of clothing behind the lower back to help maintain a neutral position, just make sure this does not arch the lower back excessively.

To prevent the upper back from rounding, pull the shoulder blades back and down together so that they are flat against the backrest of the seat while keeping the lower back from arching excessively. Don’t worry if you cannot maintain this position for long, it will get easier as your body strengthens and adapts. It is important to actively pull the shoulders back rather than relying on a brace as active postures can help develop the muscles that will be important when performing other activities.

Now that the lower and upper back are positioned, try to pull the head back so that the ear is in line with the shoulder. A useful way to remind yourself of this when driving is to try to retract the head so that the back of the head touches the headrest, without tipping your head back. Practice the Head Retraction exercise if you are unfamiliar with this motion.