You aren’t the only one who can’t sit up straight

This laughable article about research done in Australia makes me, well, want to laugh!  The study is called “Is ideal sitting posture real?”:

Questions are being raised about the science used to support the sitting postures recommended as being good for our backs and bodies.

Researchers at the University of Queensland’s Centre of Clinical Research Excellence in Spinal Pain, Injury and Health, have found that the posture often recommended as ideal cannot be achieved without assistance.

via ‘Ideal’ sitting posture questioned › News in Science (ABC Science).

Girl sitting at a deskNow, the research these guys are doing is laudable, because they’re attempting to discover what the actual consequences of bad posture really are.  But the slant, the quality of the research, and the applicability of their conclusions really have to be scrutizined.

They selected 10 men for their study and expect to be able to extrapolate these individuals’ muscular inability to perform a task to be proof that ideal sitting posture is a figment of our imaginations.

There are a couple of issues here.  One is that they used only 10 men.  That is not exactly a representative sample of the human species.

Two is that ideal sitting posture is only ideal when you’re actually able to achieve it, not when someone has to help you get into it by manually forcing you into the position.  If you can sit in ideal sitting posture, it says something about the way your muscles work in unison.  When they work well together, it feels good and requires little effort to maintain.

If you can’t get your body into that position, there’s no way your shoulders or hips are working in harmony with your spine.  Having someone force you into that position certainly doesn’t make everything copacetic and healthy.  For your body, it’s still a position of stress and strain.

If I took ten men from an office building and asked them to do fifty pushups, I’d be surprised if half of them could do it.  Does that mean it’s not achievable?  Of course not!  It just means those ten men haven’t trained their bodies to do it!  If I helped them do fifty pushups by putting a hydraulic lift under them to make it easier, do you think my measurements of their muscular output and their general fitness would be accurate?  No!

Why would it be different with sitting posture?

It wouldn’t.

Here’s the next part, and you have to look at it because it makes me laugh the hardest:

More importantly, the ideal curved lower back posture is not only difficult to achieve in a sitting position, it also takes effort to maintain.

via ‘Ideal’ sitting posture questioned › News in Science (ABC Science).

Think about this.  They took 10 men, forced them into a position they are not normally able to adopt, and then asked them to hold it!  Is there going to be effort to stay there?  Apparently you need a team of researchers to tell you yes.

The real reason why ideal sitting posture doesn’t exist for so many people (and these ten unfortunate men) is because they haven’t been training to be able to achieve it.

If you did pushups for 8 hours a day straight, nonstop for 20 years, you’d have some muscular imbalance issues that would probably prevent you from being able to raise your arms or reach behind you.  If you slouch for 8 hours a day, do you think that it’ll have an effect on your ability to get into ideal sitting posture?  It’s a no-brainer!


About the Author

Matt Hsu is a trainer and orthopedic massage therapist. He fought a long battle with chronic pain all over his body and won. He blends the principles he learned in his journey, empirical observations with clients, and relevant research to help others get their lives back.