No, there’s no chair for that.

Potentially Unpopular opinion ahead from your loving movement specialist: I know you are looking for relief from the aches and pains you are feeling from sitting so much to teach online. However, no chair is going to really solve the discomfort you feel right now. So, stop looking for an ergonomic chair that you think will magically make things better.

When we sit, we outsource work our muscles should be doing to the chair, so the idea of ergonomics is really just to make us more comfortable when we sit so we can sit for longer periods of time. Ergonomics is not really about optimal body function. However, we each need to be more about optimal body function.


You might get temporary relief from sitting on something different, but it will be a better use of your time to troubleshoot your current set up so you change positions more during lessons and look at how you are moving (or not moving) in between lessons.


Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. How can you create a standing position during lessons? What can you put your device on so you can stand while they sing because right now you don’t need to sit to accompany? What can you put at your feet to do some movement while you’re sitting – think tennis balls, half foam rollers, river rocks.


2. Have you tried standing to play chords and notes for the part of the lesson where you want troubleshoot parts of their songs? In other words, your singer sings through a song with the accompaniment on their end and then you have the phrases you want to check for technique, rhythms, notes etc. Try standing and playing notes on the keyboard to give your singer what they need to start. Everyone’s dimensions are different so if your arms don’t reach, make it into some glute work for yourself and play the notes/chord in a squat 😁).


3. Can you begin each lesson with a standing physical warm up that you do too? No one is maxing out the amount of movement they do every day while we are on stay at home orders, so why not add in some extra and move along with your singer?


4. Look at how you are positioned when you sit: are you head on to your device, or are you turned to the left or right? Can you be head on or swap from one side to the other on alternate lessons?

5. Resist the temptation to crane toward the screen to reach your student – this is like wanting to reach your audience when you perform. Notice when you’re doing it and think about the hyoid bone gently moving back in your neck to help guide your head back.

6. Also, if you don’t have them, blue light blocking glasses will help your eyes/suboccipital muscles experience less strain. Or you can try switching up the settings of brightness and color on your monitor. Between lessons take breaks to look outside at the farthest away point you can identify. All the up close looking of screens means we need to balance with far away looking and let’s face it, nature is also a balm for the soul right now.

7. What are you doing in the rest of your day? More sitting on chairs and couches? Try floor sitting, schedule walk breaks, pull your bike out of your basement and dust it off, join me for a weekly movement class on Fridays. IF you can’t get onto the floor easily to sit, build up piles of pillows/blankets/bolsters to sit on.

If you are aching from sitting, try implementing some of these suggestions and you can also access these videos on my Youtube channel to get you moving in your studio:

When you DO have to sit…suggestions for small changes that bring big rewards

Ok, so sitting is a reality in our lives…can we make it work better for our body?

The most obvious solution is to sit as little as possible in your daily life – walk to do errands, walk your kids to school, take regular movement breaks at work.

But, when you have to sit, here are some things to explore:

Sit on the floor – there are a myriad of ways you can configure your body on the floor (I think I’ve sat in no fewer than 11 different positions as I’ve written blog posts this morning). The hardness of the ground lends itself well to making your body shift, which means lots of different joint configurations. It can take time to transition to floor sitting, so maybe start with only a few minutes on the floor a day and slowly add more so your body doesn’t hate you!

Sit on the floor when:

  • watching tv
  • talking on the phone
  • eating dinner (indoor picnic anyone?)
  • your kids are at the playground
  • playing with your kids
  • working
  • waiting at a child’s sports event or in a waiting room

I’m sure you can think of other places you can get your behind out of a chair and onto the ground. Please share in the comments!

Sit better: when you have to sit on a chair or some other raised surface try these suggestions to get you out of a tucked pelvic position

  • If the seat is bucketed (like in your car), fold a towel to fill in the bucket, bringing the seat level
  • Sit forward in a chair so you can sit on your sitz bones
  • Use something like sitonthewedge.com
  • If your legs are long, sit forward and drop one knee toward the floor
  • If your legs are short, put a block or a small step stool under them

You can view a video on how to sit better here.

Create an active standing workstation:

  • You can turn a box upside down on a desk that brings your computer to the right height.
  • Don’t just stand there! Put things at your feet – tennis balls to roll and step on, half foam roller for calf stretching, a cobblestone mat to step on (something like this one, or make your own in a boot tray filled with river rocks).
  • Take breaks from standing and move.

Create a low workstation:

  • Place your computer on a coffee table or other low desk
  • Lie on your belly (create a small bolster with a hand towel that runs across the front of your pelvis to keep your low back from getting crunched – it’s all unhappy from all that sitting, remember?) to write.

Are you still sitting there?

There were some pretty sensational headlines a few years ago claiming ‘sitting is the new smoking‘. These articles talk about research that links sitting with an increased risk for cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

The solution, offered at that time, was to get a standing desk. Even better than that, get a treadmill desk. Just standing isn’t a whole lot different than just sitting.

So, what is the deal with sitting and standing?

It isn’t an issue that you sit or stand. The issue is HOW MUCH and HOW OFTEN you are sitting and standing. When we assume positions over and over again, as we do when we sit, our muscles adjust to being a particular length. That length will limit your joint’s range of motion. Those limits create small changes that show up as aches and pains. Those aches and pains lay the foundation of much bigger issues down the line – osteoarthritis, pelvic floor problems, foot neuropathy and on and on and on.

When we sit, there are pressures put on parts of the body (the pelvis in particular when sitting) that create unhappy circumstances of rolling back onto your sacrum (think about slumping into your super comfy couch, or sitting in the bucket seats in your car, or just being so super bored in your latest department meeting) – we aren’t building bone in the hip joint, we are causing changes in the tissues of our glutes (hello, wide, flat butts), creating pelvic floor problems, and without glute strength, we’re over recruiting our abdominals to stabilize the spine.

When we stand we aren’t really using the body, we’re just staying in a relatively fixed position – I well remember my parents starting up their school year of teaching and the pain they remarked on in their body in the first few weeks as they went back to standing for extended periods of the day. Treadmill desks probably deserve their own post. There are benefits that will come from using a treadmill desk, but the mechanics of walking on a treadmill aren’t optimal for the body, so if we are really looking to make a difference in the body, walking on a treadmill won’t do it.

The hard reality is we aren’t meant to be still anywhere near as much as we are in our modern lives. We are built to move. There is no right way to sit, or stand, but there are better ways to sit and stand. Way that have us sitting and standing in as many different configurations as we can.

I do recognize that sitting is a part of modern life so in my next post we’ll talk about how to make shifts in your sitting habits that will bring positive changes to your body.

Vlog: How to Sit Better

Sitting is a reality in our modern lives. But, how much we actually need to do it is up for debate. I’m sure you’ve seen the headlines screaming SITTING IS THE NEW SMOKING in Huffpost, Forbes, NBC News and even Runner’s World. Most of those articles focus on the potential for earlier death due to increased disease rates brought about by our sedentary lifestyle….kinda depressing. And, hard to wrap our mind around when one doesn’t have type 2 diabetes or heart disease right now. But, what you might have right now is shoulder and neck pain or low back pain or maybe your knees hurt. All of these can be caused and aggravated by misaligned sitting posture. AND, all of these can impact how your voice is functioning.

I am definitely not an advocate of sitting more than we all need to, but the reality is our lives often require it – for instance, I spend almost 2 hours in the car one-way to get to Cambridge on a Thursday to teach voice. Then, I sit at a piano for most of the day. I do get up and down several times within each 45 minute lesson, but that’s a whole lotta sitting. If I’m not careful about it, I will end the day with a tension headache and my low back will bother me.

You may be at a choral rehearsal that requires you to sit, or you may have a job that doesn’t have the potential for a standing work station (here’s a note, standing isn’t automatically better, but more on that in another post). If you are sitting at work all day, sitting in your car to get to rehearsal and then wondering why your voice isn’t functioning optimally, switching up how you sit can make a big difference.

Basically, this post is to say, sitting isn’t great, but if you HAVE to do it, here’s how to do it better, so your immediate physical aches and pains might lessen, your voice will be freer and along the way you can start to make some choices about how to incorporate more movement into your day.

I made a little video tutorial on how to sit better. It doesn’t get into what to do when you have to hold your folder of choral music too, but I’ll do another post on that later!

Click on the link below to have a watch on YouTube and see how you can shift your sitting posture today.

How to Sit Better