New Year's Guide to Sitting - Day 6 - Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

To kick off the new year, I’m sending out a daily email this week, focusing each day on a different type of chair or way we sit.  At the end of the week, I will launch my long-requested audio guide for sitting!  

How we sit is more important than what we sit on, but...if your seating is working against you, you’ll be on a uphill battle to sitting better.  

Each day this week I’m talking about a form of seating, some common issues with each one, and suggest simple solutions to help with the most common problems.  If you missed the previous days, check them out here on my blog

Day 6 - Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Today's topic is transportation.  I'll start with some suggestions for the local folks here in New York City (and other city dwellers) where many of us spend a lot more time on trains than the rest of the world.  Then I'll move on to cars and airplanes. 

Subway trains
In NYC, the seats tend to fall into two categories...

1 - The ones with the annoying dip/indent in part you sit on. (the orange and yellow ones)
2 - The seats with the bump on the back. (the blue ones)

The bump on the back is a sort of lumbar support, which I find very comfortable because, lucky me, the bump his my back in just the right spot, but heights and proportions vary so much that I hear more often than not from my clients that the bump hits their back in the wrong place.  The  other seats (the ones with the dip) are the ones that drive me crazy because I find my bottom keeps sliding forward.

What to do?  On the seats with the dip, I spend some time leaning back and then I switch to sitting on the edge of the seat for a little while and go back and forth.  I make sure to keep both feet flat on the floor to help prevent sliding. 

In regards to the seats with the bump on the back...If the bump hits your back in the wrong place, you could try sticking a scarf or sweatshirt behind you to fill any gaps.  If you don't mind carrying one, you could even bring a little cushion with you.  A cushion on the back is also helpful to reduce the depth of the seat if your feet don't touch the floor when you lean all the way back.

In the car
Car seats come in various shapes and sizes, as do we, so I'll just focus on a few main points...
1.  Leaning back on the headrest is fine, but make sure that it's not positioned in such a way that it's pushing your head and neck forward and down. (for drivers and passengers)

2.  Make sure you adjust the seat so that you can look straight ahead to see, you can reach the pedals comfortably, and hold the steering wheel without tensing/lifting your shoulders.

3.  Consider a seat or lumbar cushion if you find your lower back rounding.  A seat cushion like this one can help support your pelvis and lower back.

On the plane
When flying coach, many folks I know prefer the aisle seat for ease of getting up without disturbing your sleeping neighbor.  I do advise you to get up and move when in the air, but an advantage to the window seat is that even if the sit you're sitting on seems like it was purposely designed to be as uncomfortable as possible, you have the option of propping up a pillow and leaning against the wall.  I'll let you decide what to prioritize, but I just wanted to float that idea out there!  Otherwise a neck pillow, can help keep you more comfy when sitting up, especially when you fall asleep.

A few hours into a flight, I often start to feel some discomfort in my lower back and a feel an urge to move it around and fidget.  The fidgeting doesn't do much to help my lower back, so instead I do the following.  It's like a little meditation.  Your eyes can be open or closed.
1.  I sit all the way back in the seat with my bottom in the corner where the seat meets the back.  (Reclining the seat is fine.)
2.  Bring my awareness to the top of my head, to make sure that my head isn't slumping down.
3.  Place my feet flat on the floor
4.  Bring my attention to both of my hands and both of my feet.  Keep my attention on my hands and feet for about 10 minutes.  I make sure I'm not holding my breath and that I'm just putting my attention on the hands and feet.  I'm not tensing or moving them.  
5.  I relax and breath while maintaining this focus and resist the urge to fidget and move my lower back.
6.  Eventually I feel more relaxed and the discomfort dissapates.

Try it and see if it works for you!

Tomorrow I'll talk about sitting on the floor and I'll be launching my audio guide for sitting!