Rant: Sit up straight

Sitting around on your arse isn’t quite as simple as it used to be

As a white, middle-aged man and a fairly modest chap at that, there is one activity in life that I regularly do that I can safely say I do as well as anyone in the world, perhaps even at an elite level. The activity of which I am talking about is part hobby, part lifestyle choice and part occupation. Of course, the activity I am talking about is sitting down. No, I’m not talking about sitting atop a pole for hours or sitting underwater or sitting in a yoga pretzel pose. I’m talking about plain, ordinary sitting on my ample derrière.

Whether it be on the sofa or a dining chair or even on the porcelain throne in the smallest room in the house, I reckon that if sitting was an event at the Rio Olympics (in French it would be called La Assis) I would be boosting Australia’s gold medal tally and sending the Russians in search of a new posterior-enhancing drug. That’s how confident I am in my own ability to sit on my arse.

At least, that was what I thought until the other day when I received a visit at my workstation by the workplace OH&S person. Very quickly my delusions of sedentary grandeur came crashing down when this Ergo-Nazi informed me, quite matter of factly, that for most of my adult life the one thing that I had assumed to be doing very well, I have actually been doing completely wrong.

Apparently, as children we naturally sit correctly and then as we age we adopt poor habits and a sloppy posture. It seems that, far from potential Olympic gold medalist, I am the postural equivalent of Eddie the Eagle (you know, short-sighted, slightly overweight and heading for a spectacular crash).

The combination of my poor posture and repetitive movement, which many of us have when working away at our computer, can increase the risk of muscle strain and even possibly the type of injury they now call a ‘Musculoskeletal disorder’ or MSD (it’s what they use to call ‘RSI’). In fact, the Work-Related Injury statistics for 2009-10 show Muscular Stress (which includes actions such as lifting, pushing and repetitive movement like sitting typing at your computer) was the most common cause of injury in Australia in all age groups except the 15-24 year old – and those young people are probably destined for a similar fate.

Who knew there are actually rules for sitting down?

Maybe the nagging I received from my parents about slouching in front of the TV for hours was not just to get me to mow the lawn after all. And just maybe, the chronic LBP (lower back pain) I have now is somehow connected to my poor sitting habits. So do yourself a favour and google ‘sitting posture’ and don’t forget to stand up and move about occasionally!

Words by Hugh Jarse