Sitting up straight can feel like an impossible feat. I'm constantly slouching while I work, and it seems like as soon as I correct my posture, I find myself nearing a 45-degree angle again. Constant posture vigilance is impractical when I'm focused on my job (or just scrolling through Twitter), so I continually let myself fall back into slouching. It's my default position — my resting pose. And it leaves me with a perennially sore back.
I've tried a few techniques to help snap me out of this bad habit. I go to yoga classes, I try to keep it so both of my shoulder blades are touching my chair back at all times, and I write reminders to sit up straight on Post-it notes on my desk. So far, none of those strategies have had a lasting effect (though I'm sure the yoga classes could if I went more consistently). Then, I got a Purple seat cushion, and it's never been easier to avoid hunching over my desk.
Perhaps better known for its mattresses, Purple makes a variety of seat cushions, from one that's specifically designed for lumbar support to one that's meant for portability. I opted for the Royal seat cushion. At $79, it falls somewhere in the middle of the Purple seat cushion price range (which starts at $39 for the portable and lumbar-support cushions and goes up to $129 for the "Ultimate" cushion). Besides improving my seating posture, my new cushion has made sitting down all day for my desk job significantly more comfortable.
But first, how does a seat cushion make you sit up straighter?
Purple cushions come in grid patterns — or they look like large, purple waffles, depending on how hungry you are. The grid shape collapses into itself to help accommodate your pressure points, and makes sitting comfortable even if you've, say, left your phone in your back pocket (guilty). This pattern helps distribute your weight evenly across your seat, and lets extraneous pocket items like cell phones sink into the cushion instead of poking into your behind.
I get antsy throughout the workday, especially because I spend so much time sitting down. The cushion also keeps me from constantly shifting around in my seat — instead of stiffly perching on top of it, like I do on my cushion-less chair, I'm relaxing into it. Not only does this accommodate for items left in my pants pockets, but it's also good news for my sit bones. They start to feel pain after balancing throughout the long workday atop a hard surface. The Purple cushion, made of hyper-elastic polymer, means I don't have to balance on those bones.
Plus, the edge of my seat no longer cuts off the circulation in my legs. Because the Purple cushion has give, it doesn't obstruct my blood flow. All of this helps keep my back and hips in line, making it much easier to maintain good posture.
Something to be wary of with this cushion is that it's not exactly light. While the Portable cushion weighs only 2.75 pounds, that's still adds up if you're carrying it around in a bag with your lunch and other work gear. My Royal cushion weighs 5.4 pounds, so the most I move it around is from one hardwood chair to the other in my kitchen (where I did the majority of my sitting when I worked at home for the past year). However, transporting a 2.75-pound cushion in your car is hardly an inconvenience.
I also wish I could mold my cushion to be the exact shape of my chair. As it is, my cushion hangs off the edge — more of an aesthetic issue than anything, but still something that would be nice to be able to tailor. That being said, different Purple cushions come in different dimensions, and the Royal is the third biggest of seven varieties. And admittedly, I didn't measure my chairs before buying.
Different jobs require different amounts of sitting. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics' most recent data, people who worked in office jobs (like lawyers, human resource managers, accountants, and software developers) spent somewhere between 75 and 90% of their workdays seated. Professional drivers sat for over 82% of their time on the job.
If you fall into any of these job categories, I fully suggest giving a Purple seat cushion a try. Enduring pain in your sit bones, tail bone, and legs all day while hunching over your laptop (or steering wheel) isn't worth avoiding the relatively small cost of adding daily comfort to your routine. My seat cushion has made sitting through the workday a much more pleasant exercise, and thanks to its effect on my posture, it's also improved my time spent standing up.