Perching: the new way of sitting, research suggests

office sitting

Do you happen to sit the whole time at the office? Perhaps you are so entangled in your project you don’t even notice that you’ve been sitting in the same painful position at your computer for more than three hours. What are you supposed to do in this situation?

Today, many businesses are taking steps to develop healthier company cultures for their employees by implementing workstations with dynamic seating. For instance, they’ve seen active chairs and standing desk tools as a solution, allowing employees to focus better and save more energy.

After reviewing a revolutionary study from the University of Waterloo’s Kinesiology department, we’ve decided to tell you how perching appears to be the ideal posture for lower back pain. While perching seems to be a relatively emerging posture for deskbound employees, the science of its advantages has already inspired all categories of innovative chairs that support the posture.

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What is perching anyway? 

Perching encourages moving whether you sit at a standing desk or a regular desk. In a perched posture, your pelvis is leaning slightly forwards, opening the chest and hips, allowing a more neutral posture overall. Contrary to what you might have heard, perching isn’t referring to a full sit nor to full stand – researchers consider it the excellent medium between standing and sitting. In more clinical terms, perching is known as a series of trunk-thigh angles, where the lumbopelvic angles are considerably distinct from standing or sitting.  

What are the benefits of perching?

Sitting too long at your desk increases your risk of heart disease, poor posture, obesity, circulatory issues and even death from deep vein blood accumulations. An ideal way to keep yourself safe from these health problems is by using a perch chair and standing more. And that’s where perching intervenes, placing your spine in a neutral position- reducing unsupported superfluous weight in weaker spots along the spinal column and reducing back pain. Perching engages the core and opens the hips, which is a vital relief from lower back pain. It’s a relief posture that can restore the strength once lost sitting for years in a typical office chair.

What the science behind perching says? 

The revolutionary study from the University of Waterloo shows how perching is a more tolerable posture than standing or sitting for those accusing lower back pains as it enables a neutral spine posture.

Mamiko Noguchi, a Biomechanics and Kinesiology researcher say that posture is considered a leading cause for lower back pain and perching beyond certain degrees can improve that.

What’s more, the research studied each posture supported by each type of chair to determine the seat angle that places the lightest weight on the spine.

As the hybrid posture of the perch chair was lighter on the back than both standing and sitting, the research team suggested a “hybrid” type of chair to those with LBP. One capable of supporting your body in hybrid perch-like posture from sit to stand.

A Desk Setup that Promotes Dynamics 

 A 2016 study published in Applied Ergonomics showed how some of the most popular working postures such as standing, sitting and perching affected the low back. They found standing without support places a lot of stress on the back, while perching is the least damaging for the back. Each of these postures has a back and forth, though, between low back pain, productivity and discomfort.

With that in mind, a desk setup has to be dynamic by design supporting you constantly through every posture, from stand to perch. You can also create your own makeshift perch by using a rolled towel and placing it on the edge of your current chair. Try to sit your hip bones square right on the towel wedge to experience your first perch. Now, with your pelvis leaned forward, opened hips and your spine supported in a more neutral posture, how does your back feel? How does it affect your productivity and your mood? Does this new posture seem to engage your core or open your chest up at all?

The splendour of any posture that is a combination of standing and sitting is that a hybrid posture allows more movement freedom. You’ve probably noticed how the simple act of sitting becomes so inherent that it encourages more sitting as it’s too static and comfortable—even standing without the general support of a proper chair weakness the body, forcing you to return to the chair.

Sitting and standing are both sedentary postures that lead to fatigue, pain, and soreness and stiffness in the first place.

Perching changes the game entirely. Your muscles are engaged, you get to be more aware of how your body feels, so adjusting your position won’t be a problem. Finally, it brings you to your ultimate goal – to change your position as often as you need and as natural and comfortable as possible while at the same time keeping your body in motion. And this is a huge benefit since movement is one of the basic elements needed to eliminate the pains related to desk work. In simple terms, movement reduces swelling in the lower body, intermittent rest of the musculature, and allows movement in the spine, which reduces spinal load and overall fatigue.

Perching allows you to move through position, which is ideal. You can switch from sitting, standing, leaning to perching and every comfortable posture between. Dynamics allows us to tune into how our body feels and make the proper adjustments to our daily routine. Gone are the days when you had to put your full weight on the stool and feel exhausted from sitting – now perching permits office workers to save this energy while improving focus regardless if they choose to work from a standing or a regular desk.

When you perch in, you move through postures, easily, comfortably, and naturally as this movement is the gist to keeping the body feeling good.