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The Surprising Truth About Sitting Up Straight: A Guest Post

This post is by an experienced Alexander Technique teacher. If you’re interested in learning more, please contact me for referral information.


Contrary to popular belief, “sitting up straight” can be as bad for you as slumping (and sometimes worse!). Most people alternate between slumping and forcing themselves to rigidly “sit up straight.” Both can cause you neck and back pain and even headaches. Learn how to safely and more comfortably sit while being well-supported in a healthy way.  

Beyond basic ergonomics, some suggestions more specifically from an Alexander Technique perspective…

  • Throughout your work day periodically conduct a quick body scan. Notice if you’re gripping yourself anywhere. If so, allow an unclenching of your neck, back, arms, legs and your entire self, while simultaneously allowing your back and neck to release into length and width.
  • While sitting, just intermittently noticing the contact points of your sit bones on your chair can create a helpful shift. (Or while standing, intermittently notice the contact of the soles of your feet on the floor.)
  • Allow your weight to rest on your seat as you continuously renew the release of your back and neck into length and width.
  • Remember to breathe! Sitting for long periods of time regularly can cause shallow breathing. For more full breathing, occasionally ask for your back to ungrip and for your ribs to move so you can breathe. Imagine your breath spreading to your sides and back on each inhale. Allow your ribs to soften on each exhale.
  • Let your computer monitor or paper you’re reading come to you instead of jutting your head (or worse– your neck!) toward it. Let your eyes receive the information instead of always straining towards it.
  • Allow yourself to be in your back. And for most, it’s generally OK to periodically rest on the back of your chair (if your chair has one)– provided you continue renewing the release of your neck and back into length and width. We could all use help from time to time!
  • And remember, there is no perfect static position you “should” be able to stay in for hours. We are meant to move! Get up often and make another copy or grab a drink of replenishing water or comforting tea!

While you won’t get nearly the same amount of benefit from a few e-tips that you would get from a private hands-on Alexander lesson, the pointers above are a great place to begin. And if you’re interested to find out more about the Alexander Technique or schedule an appointment (Alexander Technique was intended to be taught in private lessons with one-on-one hands-on work), reach out to Susan for a referral.

Together, acupuncture and Alexander Technique can work as an excellent and comprehensive well-being care plan.


A few notes on acupuncture from Licensed Acupuncturist Susan Wallmeyer…

I wholeheartedly encourage my patients who are coming in for posture-related pain to supplement acupuncture with Alexander Technique. Acupuncture is excellent for reducing back, neck and shoulder pain due to prolonged sitting or poor posture, but in order to fix the root of the problem, your posture must of course be addressed! Changing your posture takes time, practice and patience (and is well worth the effort), but in the meantime, acupuncture can help to relieve pain by:

  • Releasing endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers
  • Aiding tissue repair by increasing circulation and breaking up knotty areas of muscle
  • Deep Stretching: Research shows acupuncture needles’ stimulation of muscle tissue is akin to a fork twirling around spaghetti: eliciting a deeper stretch in the muscle than you would be able to achieve on your own
  • Blocking activity in brain areas that control pain recognition

Please contact me if you have questions and/or would like to try an acupuncture session at my New York City office to help with your pain.