Have you ever sat in an uncomfortable chair? Of course you have! As you’ve no doubt experienced, they can be a real pain in the butt and the low back. Have you ever gotten a backache from sitting in a “comfy” chair? What about an “ergonomic” chair? Even the best chair can make your low back hurt. Some “ergonomic” chairs can also be a pain in your upper back and shoulders, especially if your torso is longer or shorter than average so the curves built into the chair don’t match the height or length of your own natural curves. But there’s another factor in this equation: the posture we bring to every surface we sit on. Do you have a tendency to lean forward? Maybe you slouch instead? Either one will cause you back pain, especially if you’re leaning or slouching unawares. But you can change your bad posture and the pain that goes with it with one simple technique: sitting on a stability or exercise ball.
You can’t slouch on a stability ball without rolling right off; you can, however, lean forward very easily without falling off. But the beauty of the stability ball is that you can tirelessly and easily sit up straight without putting any strain on your back. Check out the pics below to see if you can tell the difference.
The difference becomes obvious when you see it in pictures. Believe it or not, it took more effort to stay on the ball when I was leaning forward than when I was sitting up straight. When I was leaning forward in the top picture, it felt like I was sitting on my entire leg bone, but NOT on my “sit” bones (for you anatomy geeks, that would be the ischium bone or ischia (pl) since I’m sitting on both cheeks). When I sat up straight by “tucking my tail”, I felt much less pressure on my legs, especially the area closer to my hips, and a distinct pressure on the ischium bone (the precise area we’re supposed to sit on is called the ischial tuberosity). I also didn’t need to brace with my legs to stay on the ball like I did when I was leaning.
So what are you waiting for? Use your stability ball to learn good sitting posture. Once you get used to how it feels to sit correctly, you’ll have much less back pain after sitting for long periods of time, regardless of what you’re sitting on.