Working Space

Sitting

Most of us sit too much and we do it badly. We learnt to sit badly at school. We learnt that the upper body feels heavy and collapsed when we sit, that we need a backrest to hold us up. We learnt to support the weight of our trunk on the desk. We got out of touch with what we knew when we were very young and very small; we forgot the feeling of balance and lightness, of being at ease in the body, even when we were sitting.

Before we learnt these unhelpful lessons we knew when it was time to move, to stop sitting and use the body in a different way for a while. We knew that the arms and hands worked better when the trunk was balanced, with the neck soft and the shoulders relaxed.

We didn’t know the words, but we knew the feelings. We knew how to be at ease.

Why does this matter? Because it explains the fundamental problem of sitting to work and why there are so many unsatisfactory chair designs. Chairs are usually designed by people whose understanding of sitting is conditioned by exactly the experience we have described above. They are designed from an assumption that we will slouch and feel heavy when sitting, so that is what they create.

Sitting efficiently, with minimum strain, requires a suitable chair. It also requires some understanding of the problem of postural habit and the willingness to change. Our work is partly knowing which chair to recommend, partly being able to guide people to use the right chair well.

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