You Don't Know Jack Sit (How to Sit)
Which one of these guys is more likely to get out of anterior pelvic tilt?
Guy 1: Greg
Greg is a rock star in the gym. He prides himself on his perfect technique for every exercise. Greg also does exercises to offset his all-day computer job including deadlifts, planks, and push ups. In other words, he’s awesome.
However, outside the gym, Greg sits with a hunchback posture, doesn’t use a backrest, and has forward head posture when looking at his computer. He sits like this roughly twelve hours out of the day when he’s at work and at home.
Guy 2: Adam
Adam is new to the gym and thinks he’s getting the hang of things. But, his form still sucks. He rounds his back while deadlifting, flares his arms during bench pressing, and is lumbar extension while doing planks. However, Adam has decent posture while sitting. He does his best to sit upright, takes breaks about every thirty minutes off of his seat, stretches his arms while at work, and has his computer set up about chest level.
Both Greg and Adam have been working at their jobs for 10 years. Who is more likely to get out of anterior pelvic tilt?
Adam is the winner. In fact, Adam doesn’t even have anterior pelvic tilt, forward head posture, or rounded shoulders, because of how he has been sitting. While Adam’s exercise technique is lacking, he is actually training with great form outside of the gym an average of 12 hours a day at sitting.
If you train at ANYTHING 12 hours a day, it’s going to show. If you sit terribly for years on end, anterior pelvic tilt is likely already present. If you dominate your sitting, you can get out of anterior pelvic tilt and stay out.
This is my point: Why would you have perfect technique for lifts, which require no more than twenty to thirty minutes of actual lifting in the gym, but you sit horribly outside of the gym for 12+ hours? You need to train where it counts inside and outside the gym.
Just because you grew up sitting in school does not make you an expert at sitting. Just look at how most people sit. I’m here to tell you that how you sit will affect your anterior pelvic tilt more than anything else.
Why does sitting cause anterior pelvic tilt and how can you fix it? Here are 4 tips:
1. By it’s very nature sitting increases hip flexor and erector spinae muscle activation which cause APT. These muscles are activated because they help us be upright while sitting.
SOLUTION: This means when you don’t have to sit, DON’T! When I attend physical therapy and even some fitness seminars, we end up sitting way too much. This is why I sit and stand in the back.
2. Not using a backrest increases the activation of the hip flexors and erector spinae even more than sitting with a backrest.
Solution: You need to use a backrest. If you don’t have one, get one or get a different chair. There is nothing that kills a back like sitting without a back rest for hours, days, weeks, or even years on end.
3. Many individuals exhibit thoracic kyphosis while sitting. The erector spinae muscles attach from the pelvis to the up through the thoracic and even cervical vertebrae. When the back rounds during thoracic kyphosis, this puts the erector spinae on stretch which can cause excessive passive tension pulling up on the posterior pelvis and contributing to greater APT.
Solution: The solution to this is to sit upright! This puts the back muscles on slack and will prevent them from pulling up the back of the pelvis. But, don’t sit with military posture which is sitting as tall as possible. You need to be tall, but about 1-2 inches lower than your maximum sitting height. The best strategy I know of for correcting this is to use a McKenzie Roll (or the like) behind your low back.
4. Many people sit without their feet being able to touch the ground. The problem with this is it causes the hip flexors to work extra hard trying to keep the body upright. This problem can happen when individuals are shorter, chairs or stools are too tall, or when sofas are too deep.
Solution: If you need to, use a foot rest, cushions, or pillows to rest your feet on. This will significantly turn off your hip flexors. If you have a deep couch, put two cushions behind your low back, so your feet can reach the floor. If you sit on a tall barstool, make sure you feet can rest on the stool’s mid stands. If you’re stool doesn’t have that, avoid sitting on it or for too long.
5. Muscles possess a property called creep in which if they are in a set position for a long period of time, they will lose their elasticity.
Solution: You need to at least stand up every 30 minutes… even if it is for 10 seconds. Set a timer on your phone, get up after every episode you watch on Netflix, or use some external cue.
There are other principals which are critical for proper sitting, but these are the most important for correcting excessive anterior pelvic tilt. I’m confident that if you sit properly, it will not only help you stay out of anterior pelvic tilt, you will be taller, be more confident, and feel better too.