This is the first of three videos looking at how mindfulness can help you prevent pain in your back, legs and bum.
In this video, I am going to look at the process of sitting.
I have a question for you:
Do you find that after sitting for any great length of time you start to get a bit achy in your back?
If you do the chances are that the achiness is coming from what you are doing with your feet and legs. When you are sitting and working you are not normally thinking about what the rest of your body is doing. You are usually all ‘up in your head’ focusing in on what it is you are trying to do.
With mindfulness, you can start to pay attention to what is happening in your lower body to prevent pain.
What I mean by that is when you sit down at your desk next time, look down to see:
What are your feet doing?
And what are your legs doing?
The sorts of things to look for are:
Are your knees pressing together?
Are your legs rolling inwards?
Your toes pointing together?
Heels pressed out to the side?
All of these types of leg and foot positions are what are called ‘internal rotation’. That create a lot of tension coming up the inside of your thighs, into your groin and from there, into your back.
The opposite to all that internal rotation is sitting with your legs turned outwards, possibly with your feet rolled out or with your toes on the floor and your heels lifted. Those sorts of positions generate a lot of muscle tension coming up the sides of your leg, through your buttock and into your back.
Be mindful of how you are sitting
The way to prevent those aches and pains from happening is to be mindful of how you are sitting. In my experience, I have found the best sitting position for me to prevent pain is for my feet and legs to be aligned; that is, your feet, your knees and hips in a straight line.
Mindfulness Action Tip 1 to prevent pain
Next time you sit at your desk, look down and see if you are aligned. If you are not, bring your legs back into alignment to help prevent pain.
One definition of mindfulness is ‘to remember what it is you are trying to do, be present, here right now and remember how you are trying to act’. This is exactly what you can do by being mindful of what is happening with your legs.
One of the ways I have reminded myself to do this in the past is to give myself a little ‘mindfulness post-it note’. This is right on my desk, so it triggers a little reminder for me to be mindful of what I am doing as I sit down.
The other mindfulness ‘trainer’ I use is to write a few notes at the end of the day. Keep a little journal which reflects what you have been doing during the day. Note down whether you have got any aches, pains or stiffness going on.
Then you can think about whether the two things are related – is your discomfort related to how you have been sitting? Or perhaps to how long you have been in one position? When you know what is going on with your body, you can make a choice about doing something to prevent further discomfort from building up.
Mindfulness Action Tip 4 to prevent pain
One of the key things to look at to prevent pain, particularly backache prevention, is to ask yourself:
Do you have the right chair, set at the right height for you?
If you have a health and safety department in your business, then ask them to do a Work Station Assessment. If not, follow this link to the Health and Safety Executive website and look up ‘Work Station Risk Assessment’. It will explain the things you can investigate yourself to make sure you have the right chair for you to sit in. One that helps you get your legs and feet in the right position and keep them there all day long.
How to remain mindful
The other big tip I have is to start a regular meditation practice. It will help you remain mindful of what you are doing with your body during the day. It will also make sure that you are looking after yourself. Meditation is the most brilliant and powerful way that you can learn to be mindful. It also teaches you to keep applying that mindfulness to yourself all day long.
If you have any questions and comments on these action tips to prevent pain, please put them in the box below. For example, when you did a self-check on what your legs were doing, what did you find out? When you sat ‘in alignment’, did your aches reduce?
I look forward to hearing from you!
Further Reading for Pain Relief
Part 2 – Assess how you stand
Part 3 – Assess your own body
Achieve more calm in your day – Try my Nine Breaths for a Calmer Mind download