As intensively as we train in the gym after the end of the working day and as diligently as we do sports outdoors on the weekends: the eight hours we spend sitting down every day can permanently damage the back and the back muscles. Taking a break every 40 minutes can help. Because studies have already shown it: Static sitting makes you sick. A new concept offers a possible solution for those who spend long periods of time sitting. It is called “dynamic sitting” and is intended to prevent stagnation and freezing. In the article we explain what this means and how the principles of active sitting are implemented in everyday life.
Dynamic sitting: definition and explanation of the basic principles
What is the meaning of the term “dynamic sitting”? The definition is very simple: in order to avoid incorrect posture and the resulting back problems, you should change your sitting position as often as possible. Toddlers between the ages of 2 and 10 are actually doing it intuitively. If you watch them, you will notice that they never sit still and that they constantly change their posture. At the same time they keep their upper body upright. Adults can also learn from the children and implement the concept in their everyday lives. However, since they have been sitting down for many years, the body has only “learned” one posture and one hardly moves. In order to encourage active sitting, you can therefore adhere to several simple basic principles:
1. Move every 10 minutes. For example, you can first lean slightly forward, then sit upright again and then slowly lean back. Avoid doing a hunchback.
2. The legs should also change their position while sitting. Stretch them out, hold them close to your body, or load them with various exercises.
3. As far as the arms are concerned, they should stretch upwards and, if there is enough space, sometimes also to the sides.
4. Move your head left and right, making circular movements with your shoulders every 30 minutes.
5. Move as you please. Above all, it is important that you feel comfortable with it. And even if the sitting position is super comfortable right now, you should change it every 20 minutes.
At first glance, the concept of self-regulation may sound super simple, but it can take weeks for the body to get used to it and for you to move back and forth naturally.
The advantages of active sitting:
- You can prevent misalignments and tension and alleviate back problems.
- By sitting dynamically, you not only strengthen your back, but also your abdominal muscles.
- Thanks to active sitting, the intervertebral discs can be supplied with important nutrients.
- Movement promotes blood circulation and supplies the body cells with oxygen.
- Dynamic sitting promotes concentration and can strengthen performance over the long term.
- The concept can be implemented by anyone at school, in the office or in the home office.
- You can even do simple exercises with dynamic sitting.
The benefits of active sitting have also been scientifically proven. in the Under a new study Researchers from Sweden examined the advantages of active seating. It was found that the people who sit on an active stool or office chair move significantly more than those who sit on a classic office chair. The researchers called this movement “light physical activity”.
Dynamic sitting: an overview of active seating furniture
Active seating plays an important role so that you can sit dynamically at school, in the office or in the home office. They allow free movement and correct posture. You can find different models in stores, but they all have one thing in common: They are adjustable. So everyone can regulate the height and sitting position according to their own needs. Active seating furniture can, but does not necessarily have to, have a backrest. Here are the variants at a glance:
Dynamic sitting: the office chair and its alternatives
The classic office chair is not suitable for dynamic sitting. This is due to the fact that it severely limits or completely prevents free movement. There is a backrest and two armrests that only promote one posture. Models that are adjustable in height offer a certain freedom of movement.
The knee chair
The knee chair has a curved wooden frame and an upholstered seat. The construction is made in such a way that it follows the natural movements of the body and promotes an upright posture. When you sit down, the chair tilts forward slightly, which strengthens the back muscles. The body weight is evenly distributed over the back, thighs and knees.
Ideal for: the home office, the children’s room
Benefits: Promotes natural body movement
Disadvantages: It takes a long time to get used to it
The active stool
The active stool is equipped with a movable seat mechanism so that you can move back and forth and lean forward. The padded seat prevents slipping and ensures more seating comfort. The stool is perfect for dynamic sitting, because it allows you to change your posture in all directions and prevents one-sided pressure on the intervertebral discs.
The ideal piece of furniture for active sitting in the office and at school
Advantages: Takes up little space, allows free movement
Cons: It is quite heavy as it has a metal foot
Dynamic sitting: the stool offers sitting and standing support
The next model offers the possibility to quickly switch between sitting and standing. The seat height is infinitely adjustable by means of a lever. Most standing stools are equipped with gas suspension and are very stable. They can be combined with high tables.
Ideal for the home office
Advantages: Quick change between sitting and standing position
Disadvantages: Heavy, difficult to transport
Dynamic sitting: the saddle chair
The saddle chair, as the name itself suggests, looks like a saddle. The seating position and movements are also similar to what you would do on a bicycle. Thanks to the position of the knees, blood circulation is promoted and oxygen is transported faster than when sitting.
Ideal for: office, school, home office, children’s room
Benefits: Promotes a natural and healthy posture
Disadvantages: Long time to get used to it
Dynamic sitting: the seat cushion as an aid
Anyone who spends a lot of time sitting every day, but divides their working hours between home and office, needs a flexible solution. A seat cushion can be used as an aid for the office chair. It encourages movement and a change of posture. The extent to which the seat cushion is really easy on the back depends on the chair. Chairs with an ergonomic backrest and no armrests are best. If the chair construction prevents movement, then the seat cushion cannot help. The seat cushion also cannot affect the position of the legs, so you need to straighten them every 30 minutes. If you use a seat cushion as an aid for dynamic sitting, then you should take a break of at least 5 minutes every hour, get up and do stretching exercises. Then you can go easy on your back and strengthen your muscles.
Dynamic sitting at work: exercises that strengthen the muscles
If you want to implement the concept of “dynamic sitting” in the office or in the home office without replacing the old chair with a new model, then you can do exercises. You can do simple stretching exercises such as straightening arms and legs or doing circular movements with your head. Above all, it is important that you do these exercises not only in the morning, but throughout the day. Try not to maintain a certain posture for more than 30 minutes. Here are several suitable exercises in the seat:
- Basic tension to strengthen the shoulder muscles: stretch out your arms and turn them forwards and backwards.
- Keep your back straight, place your hands on the seat of the chair and slowly push your shoulder back in semicircular movements. Look up and slowly lift your head.
- Place your arms on your thighs and lean on them. Then slowly bend forward.
- Keep your back straight in the seat, hold your right knee with both hands and bring it up to your chest.
- Bend your hands behind your head and lift your right knee. At the same time, press your left elbow towards your knee and slowly bend your upper body forward. Repeat the exercise with your right elbow and left knee.
- Stretches: You can stretch your arms up and legs forward, or you can stand up and do another stretch of your choice.
Dynamic sitting in school
Children suffer from back pain much less often than adults. Nevertheless, dynamic sitting has also established itself as a concept for schools. The reason: In the era of digitization, even toddlers are spending more and more time on the computer. So it pays to promote the correct back position. Small children have a much higher urge to move than adults anyway. Scientists from the USA have therefore also developed active stools for children.
Parents can help children change posture at home too. To do this, simply change the seating conditions. This is easiest if the child learns alternately at the desk, while crouching or lying on their back. For toddlers there are beanbags and seat cushions that encourage a change of posture. The children should take a break every 30 minutes and should not spend more than 4 hours a day at the computer. The cell phone can also lead to back pain because it promotes a wrong posture when sitting. Stretching exercises help against this.
Dynamic sitting is a very simple concept, but it has proven to be very helpful in everyday office and school life. Both children and adults can implement it without much effort. Investing in an active office chair and a stool for active sitting is definitely worthwhile. But you can also use exercises to prevent back pain and strengthen the neck muscles. However, don’t forget to get up every 40 minutes. This stimulates the blood circulation and relieves tension.