How should I sit up in bed?
April 24, 2011 2:28 PM   Subscribe

How should I sit up in bed?

I've recently become rather more aware of my terrible posture. I have been actively trying to combat it with appropriate posture when I'm sitting at my desk and when standing and walking.

However, I have always read a lot in bed and often use my laptop in bed. I tend to lean back with pillows under my back (so it is at 45 ° to my straight legs) and then have my upper torso and neck vertical while reading.

I can't imagine for a second that that is a a healthy posture. I suspect years of doing this is why I have really tight hamstrings and can't even lift my legs straight up more than 30°. But I can't figure what a healthy posture sitting in bed would be.

Anyone have any suggestions?

PS don't sit in bed is not a helpful suggestion - I've read in bed ever since I was a child and there is nothing on earth that is going to stop me doing it, I just want to do it in a way that is better for my back.
posted by inbetweener to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I have a pretty crappy back, but I've been told that I have good posture. Almost all of my reading and leisure computer time is spent in bed. Using pillows, I generally lie down so my body is somewhere between a 120-160 degree angle. My head, neck, shoulders, and back are always inline, and are always supported with pillows. I just tried to configure myself how you describe, and holy crap that's uncomfortable. You should probably stop doing that.

You may also want to consider adding some light stretching to your daily routine.
posted by phunniemee at 2:55 PM on April 24, 2011

Maybe this would help? A couple of people I know use these on a regular basis with no complaints.
posted by JesseBikman at 3:56 PM on April 24, 2011

I have one of those bedrest pillows that JesseBikman referred to. It works pretty well at keeping you at a good angle and not putting too much pressure on your back, but I find that it really helps to put a pillow under my knees when I use it. Less stress on my lower back. YMMV.
posted by garnetgirl at 4:17 PM on April 24, 2011

Best answer: Bad posture comes from not exercising the posture muscles (mostly deep inside the torso). There's a certain bare-minimum of full-body movement you're not getting and that's what's causing your bad posture. We moderns spend so much time being sedentary that our bodies accustom themselves to the lack of physical demand, and this introduces crookedness and dysfunction which result in weakness & pain. The less we move, the less we become capable of moving, iterate. If you were strong enough to hold your body up straight, you would.

Personally, I recommend The Egoscue Method to people with posture issues. Because your bad posture is affecting your breathing, your digestion, your lymphatic system, the sinovial fluid in the spinal column, etc. all of these basic functions are designed to work in a body that is moving and twisting and turning on a daily basis, with the squeezing and moving of the body acting like a pump.

Here's an interview with Pete Egoscue that lays out his experience and his method. The top two books of his I recommend are The Egoscue Method and Pain Free. PF is the choice if you've got ongoing, chronic pain. TEM is more an overall look at the three major kinds of bodily misalignment we fall into and how to address them. If it's within your budget, there might be a clinic nearby.

Sitting up straight in be will not solve your posture problem. It about strength and functionality and above all movement, not how to be sedentary better.

Best of luck.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 4:34 PM on April 24, 2011 [6 favorites]

Anything that makes the back and spine straight is best. Can you sit with your back to the wall on the bed?

That said, your hamstrings being tight is a different matter, and for most folks comes spending a lot of time sitting in chairs or driving. Light exercise and stretching will help there, at least.
posted by yeloson at 11:29 AM on April 25, 2011

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