Why is flexible seating the most ergonomic way to sit?

Do you remember your parents or teachers telling you to "sit up straight"? It’s something most of us have heard during our childhood. Since then, the science of physiotherapy and ergonomics have evolved, and it seems that "sitting up straight" on a chair might do more harm than good. But why?

Let's start from the beginning by answering: Is there such a thing as having the “right” posture? Well, yes and no.

It’s known that sitting in a neutral position, with your hip joint at a 110-degree angle and elbows resting in front of you, will relieve the pressure between the discs in your spine. Hence, if our interest is back pain prevention and disc-injury treatment, we should adopt this posture.

This position is referred to as the "Astronaut" position as it simulates the position of the human body in zero gravity conditions. However, while working on a computer on earth, it’s basically impossible to maintain this position. Furthermore, although a "neutral" position might be best for the discs, other organs have different needs of their own.

Keeping your body moving The recipe for a healthy posture involves one vital ingredient: Diversity. Being seated in only one position, as "perfect" as it might be, deprives the body of movement and puts pressure on the same critical points in your body again and again.

In a way, "bad posture" is the side effect of a prolonged seating position that the modern man has evolved to adopt. Our bodies are built for movement, and while we try to stay in one position, our bodies rapidly tell us to change it — and we need to listen.

In addition to changing posture, it’s recommended to actively move your body for a few minutes every two hours.

What kind of movement? It doesn't really matter, because as we discussed earlier, our motivation is diversity. Try to move your shoulders, neck, and head from side to side without any effort. Think of it as if you are oiling your joints!

Kids need healthy posture, too Children are a large group that must be taken into account, so “What about children?”” We all know children tend to sit in "unusual” positions compared to adults and generally change them frequently. While it may seem strange, we should encourage it! It’s a natural tendency which, in our opinion, should also be adopted in the learning environment. These diverse seating positions can be referred to as flexible seating.

There is a good reason children tend to change their posture often: They inherently feel it’s healthy and, yet, are told to stick with bad habits. Diverse positions maintain the body’s movement range, keeps the muscles active, and keeps the spine aligned.

Thanks to their youth and flexibility, most children will not show back pain symptoms until puberty, but the seed of the problem is planted in childhood — poor posture brings damage to the body. We establish our habits from a young age, and we should teach our children to diversify their postures as soon as possible. Flexible seating options might do just that.

In addition, there are various sociological, educational, and psychological reasons to encourage movement amongst kids. To learn more, check out our article: "The sociological benefits of movement.”

Over to you

One ergonomic tool that we feel particularly passionate about is DidiDesk, a truly versatile tool which allows users to switch postures during the day. If you want to teach your child how to prevent back injury and remain engaged and productive while sitting, this is the best solution. Check it out here.