How to Use Cushions to Improve Your Sitting: It’s All in the Way You Think

Many of us have turned to wedges, lumbar support cushions, or back-friendly gadgets to enhance our sitting comfort. While these tools can be beneficial, their true potential lies in how we use them. It’s not just about the cushion itself but about the way we think about sitting and posture.

Dr Ted Dimon “There is in all human movement a basic organizing principle, an active force that ensures effortlessness, vitality, and optimal control in everything we do. It is not accepted or understood by modern science, yet is demonstrable and observable and will one day be considered among the most important principles in our understanding of the natural world. It is not taught in movement training programs, and yet it is the key system governing how the body is organized to move.” 

The Common Problem: Slumping and Slouching and Straining

Slumping and slouching on chairs and sofas can lead to a C-shaped spine, increasing pressure on the lumbar curve and potentially causing nerve pain down the legs. Many people roll up a towel or place something behind them to support their back when they sit. However, this approach might not be the most effective. Pressure still pushes backward into parts of the spine not designed to support such weight.

An Alternative: Using a Firm Wedge Cushion

Instead of focusing on support behind the back, try using a firm wedge cushion to sit on. A simple Telephone Directory may do the same job, if you still have one around, or something similar. This simple adjustment can make a significant difference. Here’s why:

  1. Allows Your Pelvis to Roll Forwards without Effort: A wedge cushion effortlessly encourages your pelvis to tilt slightly forward, encouraging a more natural spinal alignment with your head balancing over the sit-bones.
  2. Raise Your Sitting Height: The cushion/book raises your seat height to be slightly above your knee joints, giving you an advantage when it comes to maintaining ease and poise.
  3. Rest on Your Sitting Bones: The firmer support from under your pelvis, helps you sit on your sitting bones (the round rockers at the lowest part of your pelvis), which is crucial for good posture.
  4. Agreeing With Gravity: changes your muscular tone from flopping or strained, to the postural reflexes just sending your spine upwards with ease.

The Science Behind It: Postural Neuromuscular Reflex

When you sit on your sitting bones, your postural neuromuscular reflexes are able to work for you, as described by Dr. Ted Dimon. This reflex allows the weight of your body to travel down through your pelvis onto a firm, supportive surface. As a result, a natural reflex helps you to sit upright effortlessly. Sitting becomes less of a chore and more of an easy, delicate balancing act.

Practical Tips for Everyday Use

  • At Home: Use a firm wedge cushion on your regular chairs. Make sure the cushion is firm enough to provide the necessary support.
  • In the Car: Swap your car seat’s ergonomic cushion for a firm wedge. Many car seats are designed to fit rounded male bodies and may not provide useful support as they are too padded and soft, this puts the weight through your soft tissue and compresses your nerves.
  • On the Go: If you don’t have a cushion handy, improvise with a firm object like a telephone directory. Place it on your seat to provide the same support for your rockers and height advantage.

Why Ergonomic Chairs Aren’t Always the Solution

While ergonomic chairs are designed to offer better support, they often conform to the natural curve of a rounded back, which isn’t ideal for anyone, especially for long-term sitting. These chairs can sometimes encourage a C-shaped spine and the associated problems of low-back pain, sciatica and fatigue. A firm wedge cushion or chair base, on the other hand, promotes an upright posture and engages your body’s natural support mechanisms.

Making the Right Choice

Ultimately, the key to improving your sitting posture and comfort lies not just in the tools you use but in how you use them and how you think about yourself whilst sitting. By understanding the mechanics of your body and using tools like firm wedge cushions correctly, you can transform your sitting experience. This approach encourages a natural, balanced posture that supports long-term health and comfort.

So, next time you reach for that lumbar support or back-friendly gadget, remember that the way you use it and your understanding of your body’s mechanics can make all the difference. Choose wisely and think about sitting as an active, mindful practice, not just a passive state.

Written by Lucy Ascham, Body & Soul Energy Expert

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