Clearwater Record-Ewing News

Arriving home after a long day at the office - especially on deadline day - I sink into my favorite chair, prop my legs on the ottoman, wrap up in my favorite blanket and relax.

That lasts about 10 seconds before squirming begins, repositioning every few seconds, because nothing feels right, let alone, relaxing. 

My back aches and neck hurts. So much for winding down.

Finally, I move to the dining room and plop on a chair. Only then does everything feel right, like a wave of calm and soothing washes over me.

Leaning against the back rest, legs propped on another chair, tension exits the body. 

Finally, tranquility.

Could it be that simple? Can uncomfortableness be caused by a chair?

Yes, according to Galen Cranz, an architecture professor specializing in “body conscious design” from the University of California, Berkeley.

Cranz contends wooden or firm-framed chairs are best for our bodies, keeping our spines aligned, thus reducing aches and pains.

She might be right. 

Furniture design, especially in the 20th century, changed the way we sit, affecting our posture and ultimately, our health.

It’s especially true for individuals who are tied to a desk up to one-third of a day.

It happens at work, too. The comfy, padded office chair doesn’t support my lower back. By midday, shoulders rise and, from a side view, my spine is shaped like a ‘C’ as I hunch over the computer's keyboard while writing this week’s column and news articles.

Back ache, sore legs.

Limited relief comes from a bit of chair yoga or a walk around the block.

But the damage may be done. Gravity pulls us downward, muscles disengage, causing compression and pain.

And if you type - or text - a lot, the problem is compounded. Text neck, when the head or neck extends forward on the shoulders, causes tilting of the cervical spine.

And I wonder why my neck pops when I turn it, even at a 45-degree angle.

Sitting for extended periods of time doesn’t lead only to aches and pains. Heart disease, an overprotective pancreas, colon cancer, muscle degeneration, foggy brain and disk damage are risks.

Maybe it’s time to ditch the rolling office chair for a wooden version … and not spend eight hours sitting in it.

Straighten up posture, extinguish aches and pains, rebuild health.

Until that happens, perhaps I need to reexamine the proper way to sit in a chair.

Yes, there’s a right way to sit. It starts with sitting on the edge of a chair, building a perch to sit on, which supports the sitz bones and using a pillow to construct a backrest that hits mid-back.

I feel better already.


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