Dynamic or Active Sitting: Importance For Wheelchair Users

‘No prolonged sitting’ is a general health recommendation for all. The human body is not meant to be in a sitting position for very long. It adversely affects our bodies and health in many ways. Doctors recommend people to get up from their chairs and move their bodies every now and then. But, what about wheelchair users? Be it professional responsibilities or personal needs, wheelchair users spend the major part of their waking hours sitting in their wheelchairs. And for most of them getting up is either impossible or very tough and painful. This is where the concept of ‘dynamic sitting’ or ‘active sitting’ comes into the picture.

Although most wheelchair users follow the rules of dynamic sitting knowingly or unknowingly, it is important to stay informed. When you know what science recommends, you will stay mindful about adopting the habit.

What is Dynamic Sitting and Why Should You Adopt it?

The term ‘dynamic sitting’ aka ‘active sitting’, simply means not staying in the same posture for long. It is recommended to change your sitting position at least four times per hour to prevent long sitting hours from generating issues like back pain and pressure sores.

As mentioned above most wheelchair users do this even unknowingly. This is because prolonged sitting causes pain and discomfort. Wheelchair users frequently change their sitting position to make them comfortable. But, some wheelchair users may not do it. For example, people with complete spinal cord injury lose their sensation, and thus they may not be able to feel the burning sensation or discomfort caused due to prolonged sitting. This makes them prone to pressure sores. This is the reason every wheelchair user needs to be mindful of changing positions even when they don’t feel discomfort.

In the process of ‘dynamic sitting’, the attempt is to keep the upper body straight and in the right posture as much as possible while constantly altering the sitting position.

This might sound simple, but it is not so simple for people in wheelchairs, especially those who don’t have the upper body strength to sit straight or change position. But it is a necessary thing that needs to be adopted by wheelchair users as soon as possible.

Improper sitting leads to poor posture and back pain, and in the absence of trained back muscles, the stress on the back increases to the extent of affecting the vertebral column (causing issues like scoliosis). It may also lead to issues of muscular imbalances, pressure sores, and chronic back problems.

Advantages of Dynamic Sitting

Dynamic sitting comes with a wide range of benefits for wheelchair users. Obviously, you prevent the issues we discussed above but there are more advantages:

  • Relief of musculature and intervertebral discs
  • Natural strengthening of the core muscles due to tension and relaxation
  • Performance improvement
  • Metabolism stimulation
  • Support of nutrient supply of musculature and intervertebral discs
  • Sufficient circulation of muscles
  • Prevents stress on musculature and posture disorders
  • Increased blood flow in the lower body parts
  • Proper body alignment

Tips for Dynamic Sitting

The general rule of thumb is to change the sitting position every 20 minutes. This change includes slight alterations, like changing the position of the torso. If you are comfortable shifting to an office chair while working, it may give you additional benefits as they have an adjustable backrest, unlike wheelchairs. The adjustable backrest enables wheelchair users to take different sitting positions and shift their weight from right to left buttocks as often as they want.

Now, let us have a look at some techniques you can adopt to make dynamic sitting a habit.

  • Rolling the Neck and Stretching Your Back – By rolling the neck you can relieve tension from your neck and head and the stretching of the back eases the tension on your spine.
  • Changing the Leg Position – Changing the position of your legs is also a recommended step in a dynamic sitting. If you are sitting with your legs in a normal position, you can switch to sitting cross-legged. You can also alter the position of your legs while sitting cross-legged every 30 minutes or so.
  • Circle The Hips And Pelvic Area – If your hands and upper-body strength allow, you can lift your hips a little and move them around pretending to use a Hula Hoop. This will relieve stress from your buttock muscles and pelvis.
  • Stretch Your Arms – It is also recommended to clasp hands together and stretch your arms over your head while the palms face up as high as possible. This a great way to relieve tension from your spine.
  • Rolling Your Feet – If you have muscle strength in your feet you can roll your feet as well. This is also considered helpful.

Remember to mix and match the position-changing techniques to allow every stressed part of your body to relax while you sit for long hours. You might have noticed that you were sometimes unknowingly doing one or the other thing. Now, adopt the habit of dynamic sitting mindfully.

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"Dynamic or Active Sitting: Importance For Wheelchair Users." Wecapable.com. Web. February 6, 2023. <https://wecapable.com/dynamic-active-sitting-importance-for-wheelchair-users/>

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"Dynamic or Active Sitting: Importance For Wheelchair Users." (n.d.). Wecapable.com. Retrieved February 6, 2023 from https://wecapable.com/dynamic-active-sitting-importance-for-wheelchair-users/

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