showing the progression from good posture to bad posture while sitting

The Sitting Situation

After being diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis I've become more aware of my postures and time spent seated. Even though I start with my back straight and my feet touching the floor as recommended, I end up sliding off the chair or folding my legs in the least recommended position. Consequently, this has become a little stressful since most of the things I do on a daily basis require sitting: the lectures at school, Zoom meetings, eating, driving, and of course, studying.

Student life = sitting life

As a medical student I find myself spending most of the time at home, libraries, coffee shops or wherever there are chairs and good internet in order to catch up with academic responsibilities. Between studying, preparing case discussions and/or class projects, minutes become hours without realizing that I haven't stood up from the chair after all that time. It's ironic that even though there is scientific evidence of all the chronic health problems associated with sitting for prolonged times, we still do it in order to learn and help others with these health issues in the future.

My body gets stiff

With that in mind, and also knowing the importance of physical activity, especially in people with inflammatory diseases like mine, it is inevitable not to think and worry about the time spent on a chair. It has become sort of worrisome thinking of all the strain and pressure being added to my joints that are already going through their own inflammatory process. When I forget about the time that has passed while seated, my body reminds me of it when the back pain or stiffness starts to kick in. At this point, it's too late and I know I'll probably be in discomfort for quite a while.

I'm learning to include movement

In order to be more aware of this sitting situation, I've been forcing myself to stand up frequently between study sessions and stretching, walking around or doing any other physical activity that doesn't include sitting in a chair. I have also integrated new equipment to use while seated such as lumbar support pillows that have come in handy by helping me maintain a better posture and easing my back pain. Laptop stands have also been of great utility since it forces me to keep my neck straight, alleviating any neck stress and hunching.

To be honest it hasn't been easy to decrease the amount of time spent seated. I am currently studying for my second medical board exam which means lots of upcoming time sitting on my desk. I made a new study schedule that includes exercise and moving around every certain amount of time. With this new routine hopefully I will not have to wait until my back pain or stiffness starts bothering me and giving me the hint that it's time to rise up and move.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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