Move between using the back rest and sitting free so that your back muscles constantly have to readjust to support you.
It has been excellent in terms of making me aware of when I’m all tensed up…some aspects of the technique have become second nature and still help me. Rohith Rajagopal
Talk Through – More About Sitting
Sitting for long periods without a back rest can be very tiring for the back, especially if you’re not used to it.
Using a chair with a back rest is fine if you do it intelligently and that’s what this activity looks at.
The best way to do it is to read through the instructions first and then use the talk through to guide yourself through the procedure.
What You’ll Need:
- A chair with a firm seat with or without arms. It’s best if it has an upright back rest, but it’s also okay if it slopes back a little.
- A quiet place where you won’t be disturbed
- About 15 – 20 minutes during which you won’t be disturbed
1. Using the Back Rest Intelligently
- Sit well back in the chair, and use a cushion if necessary so that your back doesn’t hollow out.
- Allow your back to rest against the spine
- Ask your neck to free up.
- Think of your back releasing and lengthening up against the support of the cushion and/or the back rest. Don’t try to do it.
Your back is supported, but working.
2. Moving In Your Chair
If you have to spend long periods of time sitting, chances are you’re stiffening up, and that’s not good for your back. You can manage this to some extent by keeping active in your chair. You do this by moving between using the back rest (intelligently!) for some time, and sitting without support at other times.
- To come forward– rock forward on your sit bones so that you move away from the back rest and are balanced on your sit bones. Think of gently releasing up from them and ask your neck to free up as well.
- To lean back– start by asking your neck to free up, and rock back on your sit bones until you are leaning against the back rest of the chair. Place a cushion behind the small of your back (especially if the back rest curves out at this point) so that you have a continuous support. Ensure that you don’t collapse by continuing to ask your back to release and lengthen.
In effect you’re shifting between these two positions so your back muscles are constantly having to readjust to support you when you change your sitting. This keeps them alive and springy.
3. Working at the Computer
Keep these tips in mind as you work at your computer to ensure that your back stays alive and springy through a long day.
Ensure that the position of your chair allows you to
- Sit with your back supported,
- Work without overstretching your arms.
- Move between using the back rest and sitting free as you work.
Finished a specific piece of work? Take a break.
- Lean back against the back rest (without pulling down on it) and
- Let yourself relax.
- Ask for the legs to lengthen out from the hip joints
- Let your feet expand onto the floor.
It helps if your shoes are off so your feet can really release and expand on the floor!
Just before you begin your work, go back to your awareness of your sit bones – the two rounded points of bone on which you balance when you sit upright – and gently ask for release as you sit.
You should be taking a break every 30 – 40 minutes. However much you might take care to sit well and move back and forth in place, nothing beats getting up and walking around every now and then. Initially you may feel that it disturbs your work, and disturbs your train of thought, but if you persist in this practice, you’ll find that actually, you get back to your work refreshed in body and mind.
How You Use This
Try this out for yourself as you go through your day, but only for short stretches of time in the beginning. Even as short as 2 or 3 minutes will make a difference.
It is important not to go on too long with your experimenting. When you change your thinking, you stimulate your muscles to work in a radically different way, and they get tired. Allow them to rest when they tire, and they will adjust to the new way more efficiently.
The secret is to stay mobile in your seat even as you sit and work.
Active Rest can really help with rejuvenating your back muscles when they complain that you’re working them too hard!
What if You Forget?
Sitting slumped and pulled down has probably now become a habit that feels normal and even comfortable (at least until your back starts hurting!). You probably fall straight into this pattern as you settle down to work.
Perhaps you could put a reminder to yourself on the phone, so you get a little nudge twice or thrice a day.
Aim to do this for 1 or 2 minutes (which is actually quite a long stretch of time!). If you persist, your muscles will get used to working well, and this way of sitting will come naturally and easily to you.
Just a minute at a time – 3 times a day. Is that really hard to find?
Only you can take care of yourself, and only you can decide what your self care practices are going to be.
Standing is another activity that you probably do without paying much attention to it. Is there a way to use all the time you spend standing – in line for tickets, in the metro, at the supermarket checkout queue – to strengthen and tone your muscles?
Check out Standing Well ; try out the suggestions given there, and see what you observe.
Other Activities You Can Try
- Go through What the Alexander Technique Is Not. This will give you a clear idea of how exactly the Alexander Technique can help you.
- Check out Thinking Well to give you a sense of how strongly our thinking influences our muscles.
- You can also opt for lessons. At the moment I am offering only online lessons, since that seems to be the only way to have a lesson without fear of infection. Do check out Online Learning so that you can decide what is the best option for you.
- Prefer an introductory lesson straightaway? Contact me to book a lesson – online, of course!
‘Too much tension’ most often means the wrong kind and amount of tension, in the wrong places, for the wrong length of time. (Pedro de Alcantara)