The Art of Posture – Fake it til you make it
Sitting at a desk weekly for 20 years can take its toll. Trying to fend off osteoporosis and maintain good posture after years of neglect takes a discipline that I don’t always have. For my 10 year anniversary at Studio Mundi, I requested a few items to help me become more mindful of how I sit on a daily basis.
First up, the Gaiam ball desk chair. Easy to set up, but the air pump that comes with it is a bit lackluster. Luckily, I have not had to fill up the ball since the initial set up. The chair takes a bit to get used to since you can’t lean back, but I guess that’s the purpose. It took me several weeks to get used to sitting so upright. There is a backrest. It is meant to be used for support while doing exercises and I must admit, that’s the only support I see it giving. I recommend purchasing the ball cover to make the ball more comfortable since there’s less sweating likely to occur and it’s much warmer than sitting on just the plastic ball.
Benefits of sitting on the ball: 1) forces awareness of having both feet on the ground. Promotes balance. 2) core muscles are engaged. I’ve actually had the ball for several months and have really grown to like it. I trade it out for my regular office chair at least twice a week. I find that if I sit on the ball too frequently, I have some lower back pain.
With that in mind, as I began doing some research, I have found many articles discussing the drawbacks of using an exercise ball instead of an office chair. After reading several, I believe I’m using it the best way, by switching to a chair a few times a week. For example, Jessica Matthews, assistant professor of exercise science at Miramar College in San Diego writes, “Sitting on a ball creates an increased load on the lumbar (lower back) spine and discomfort over time.” She also noted, “Prolonged periods of sitting, whether in a chair or on an exercise ball, can also lead to poor body mechanics and posture.” So be sure to get up and walk around as much as you can. Stretch too.