For the majority of those in our culture, getting up each day to breakfast at a table or in the car to work, 6-10 hours sitting at a desk, then the car back to home for dinner in a chair is the foundation of our movement lifestyle. We spend an incredibly slim amount of time doing anything but sitting, when sitting is actually a fairly ‘recent’ development for our species. At the same time, back and hip pain is rife in our society, with an overall severe ‘movement malnutrition.’

An esteemed member of the rehab and corrective world, Kathy Dooley, has done hundreds of dissections and every one that had reported back pain and under developed and atrophied multifidi (deep stabilizing muscles in the back along the spine). In a life made of sitting in chairs in a 90 degree position where we train our bodies that the spine itself can take the weight instead of our muscles, we simply don’t spend any time using these muscles so it is no surprise that they are most frequently atrophied. The under use of these vital back muscles leave us with poor strength and endurance to stabilize the spine and hold our back up, and by simply spending our life sitting our brain doesn’t really know how to use these spinal muscles anymore on it’s own, so we slouch or hold bad posture when we aren’t sitting (and when we are, actually).

The multifidi muscles.

The multifidi muscles.

Our core is made up of numerous muscles, all of them together holding the spine and the torso, but few of them work in our culture because of how we live. Without giving up your 9-5 desk job, be it just a job or your calling, we can do a lot to overturn and prevent the back pain that most of us are destined for. By simply spending time sitting straight each day we can take back some of the strength and endurance the multifidi need as well as teaching the brain how to use the muscles again to stabilize the back and body. Starting with just a minute or so a day and going from there adding more time each day, especially coupled with getting up and moving around regularly more often, so much of back pain can be stopped and prevented. Below are two simple but highly effective sitting ‘techniques.’

Cross Legged Sitting

Cross Legged Sitting

Simple cross legged sitting on the ground. Keep your head tall and your spine straight. Start with this sitting each day, for a minute or two at a time.

'Hero Pose' sitting.

‘Hero Pose’ sitting.

Far more difficult for most people to start with, this can also help with hip mobility and stability. Once you can do the first sitting approach (cross legged) for several minutes straight comfortably, try this. A pillow on top of your feet, under your butt, may be a good way to start until your hips are comfortable with it.

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