Sitting for long periods has been shown to cause a variety of health issues and even early death. But like most of us, you’re probably not going to stop sitting, so if you must use a chair, you should at least do all you can to protect your body. One easy and so-cheap-its-ridiculous way is by using an ergonomic seat cushion. Even though people spend far too much time sitting, somehow, most of the things we sit on aren’t very comfortable or well-designed to support healthy posture. Chairs tend to squeeze the hips, mis-align the pelvis and spine, and practically force you into either lounging or slumping. Ergonomic office chairs are one solution for those stuck with long hours at a desk, but these can be expensive, and they don’t help for other situations like sitting in a car, at home, or in public places. Ergonomic seat cushions, on the other hand, are inexpensive, portable, and provide a significant boost in comfort and support in a variety of settings. They offer a ton of health benefits in a tiny, easy-to-use package. What benefits, you ask? Read on and be amazed.
Benefits of Seat Cushions
Ergonomic seat cushions make it easier to sit with good posture, which in turn helps your body develop a better natural posture (the kind you don’t have to think about). Having good innate posture makes you less prone to chronic pain and increases energy and focus. It makes you feel happier and more confident, and it gives you a more attractive appearance. It even helps you age more gracefully, so when your friends are using walkers, you’ll still be strutting your stuff.
Less compression on your hips, spine, and tailbone
Poorly designed seats put too much pressure on your hips and tailbone, or coccyx, which can cause pain and fatigue. This can even lead to spine and joint issues that impact your quality of life. A good seat cushion will redistribute that compressive force and protect your body from the usual wear and tear.
That compression from typical seats also restricts blood flow in your pelvis, legs, and back. This means your tissues and muscles don’t get as much oxygen as they should and have a hard time getting rid of metabolic wastes. This makes you tired and causes pain. It also makes your heart work harder to pump your blood around, which lowers your cardiovascular health.
Blood isn’t the only thing that needs to move through your pelvis and abdomen. Another negative effect of all that compression is poor digestion, which can mean anything from constipation to heartburn to IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). You probably shouldn’t have eaten that last slice of pizza anyway, but since you did, the least you can do is give your belly some room to do its thing.
If you’re going to sit for any significant amount of time, you might as well be comfy. Everyone knows that quality memory foam feels great, as it conforms to your exact body shape while giving you proper support. And when you combine that luxurious squishy-but-firm quality with an ergonomic seat cushion design, you get pure delight for your heinie. (But you should still get up sometimes.)
With better posture and circulation and less pain, you’re bound to feel more energized and less distracted. You may be surprised how much more you get done when you use a supportive seat cushion, and you’ll still have energy for life outside work (I know…what’s that, right?).
Types of Seat Cushions
Tailbone and Pelvis – the most common type of seat cushion goes under your buttox to support your tailbone and pelvis, giving you an ergonomic base to sit on. Lumbar – lumbar support can also be beneficial for people with low back pain, and can help with posture by maintaining the curves in your back and the rotation of your hips, keeping you from slumping.
Cheap seat cushions can be made of standard foam, which is better than nothing, but not ideal for long periods of sitting. For the best support and comfort, you’ll want to look for something made from memory foam or gel, or a combination of the two. They’re both made of the same basic material, called viscoelastic, but gel provides better heat dissipation, although it tends to be more expensive and more prone to breaking down.
How to Get the Most Benefit From a Seat Cushion
When using an ergonomic seat cushion, sit with your feet planted on the ground and your hips rotated slightly back. Avoid slouching or crossing your legs. Get up to stretch and move frequently, every 20-30 minutes or so. This will keep your muscles and other tissues from tightening and freezing into the seated posture. We’re made for movement, so keep building movement into your day, even if you do have to sit some of the time. To take it a step further, alternate between sitting and standing at work by using a height-adjustable desk or desk converter. This will give you ideal comfort for both sitting and standing with minimal effort to switch between the two. Sitting may be the new smoking, but not all sitting is the same, and with proper support from a high-quality seat cushion, you can feel better doing it and reduce the negative impacts. How has using a seat cushion helped you? Tell us in the comments.