Standard sitting posture - good for techniques but not for the body??

Ergonomics and Posture for Classical Guitarists, Aches and Pains, Injuries, etc...
Luis_Br
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Re: Standard sitting posture - good for techniques but not for the body??

Post by Luis_Br » Fri Dec 04, 2015 6:32 pm

I think with proper tools we can make the guitar adapt to our body and not the opposite.
Problems sometimes have more to do with dynamics and internal relaxation than simply the outside positioning. Standing up helps the back if you keep moving, changing supporting leg and so on, generating dynamics to constantly change tension position, avoiding too much stressing in the same points all the time. There is also a natural tendency to keep better back posture while standing up, since we need to get good overall balance not to fall down. An important Alexander technique's exercise is to constantly exchenge between sitting and standing, and learn from both perceptions to improve each other posture. We can also achieve good dynamics to the back while sitting with proper deep breathing. Good breathing generates a lot of dynamics to the back, thorugh constant expansion and contraction of all vertebra spacing, constantly relieving tension spots.

ronjazz
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Re: Standard sitting posture - good for techniques but not for the body??

Post by ronjazz » Mon Jan 11, 2016 12:51 am

One should attempt the standing position with a strap even if only for practicing; it will double your productivity. Any break from sitting with the guitar will be beneficial to most players. Here's an interesting side result: if you practice standing, and perform sitting, the guitar will feel very secure in performance, and the player will actually move a little more, which is good.
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robert e
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Re: Standard sitting posture - good for techniques but not for the body??

Post by robert e » Mon Jan 11, 2016 4:24 pm

I don't think anyone's mentioned chairs yet. The standard chair is designed to fight standard classical guitar posture.

FYI I'm coming back to classical guitar studies after decades away from it, determined to do things "right" this time, so I've done a lot of reading and inquiring recently into fundamentals like posture--in this forum and elsewhere around the web, in books, and face-to-face with doctors and musicians. Here's what I've gleaned about sitting and chairs:

The standard chair is designed to push you back and lean your upper body against the back. Using such a chair for standard classical posture means fighting that design, an unstable balancing act that constantly stresses the lower back. Ideally, for guitar posture, the chair seat should be tilted slightly forward rather than backward, as in the chairs used by orchestra musicians, which distributes one's weight between the seat and legs. This goes double for those of us with lower legs shorter than the standard 18" chair height.

I think it was a delcamp member who cleverly took the back (and arms) off an office chair so that they could sit on it "backwards", with the seat now tiliting forwards!

The next best thing is a flat seat, as in a piano bench or stool. On such a seat, Abel Carlevaro recommends sitting not in the center but close to one side (right for righties, left for lefties) so that the foot that's on the floor can be placed further back, under the respective shoulder, giving the back some support.

Carlevaro also agrees with what Nick C said about twisting as the other source of back stress. It seems natural to nestle the waist of the guitar on the raised thigh and then wrap oneself around it (as Segovia taught), but this twisting motion is not good for the back. It's much better for the back to keep the shoulders parallel to the hips, and then to position the guitar to fit. This puts the lower bout against the front-right (or front-left for lefties) of the torso, under the plucking arm, and the neck will be angled a bit forward. The butt of the guitar should then be more or less flat against the thigh on the plucking side. [Unfortunately,] this puts the back edge of the waist on the other thigh, with most of the weight of the guitar on it, which is going to be uncomfortable or outright painful, so a towel or cushion or guitar support will be wanted there.

Finally, I've been watching youtube videos of accomplished guitarists, and I notice that some of them use a footstool, but with the guitar shifted toward the plucking arm, so that the bouts of the guitar rest on their thighs, with the waist now between the legs. This seems more common among flamenco guitarists, but it is another way to reduce twisting of the back, though some will feel cramped in this position.

Good luck!

Edit: This is probably more than you want to know, but I'm told that our hips aren't designed to let most of us make a less than roughly 90-degree angle with our legs and back, at least not in a forward direction. In order to make a more acute angle, we need to either angle the leg out to the side (one effect of Nick's and Carlevaro's suggested posture), or bend and/or twist the lower back (which can cause back pain over time). [It's also why guitar supports can be more ergonomic than footstools.]

AndreiKrylov

Re: Standard sitting posture - good for techniques but not for the body??

Post by AndreiKrylov » Tue Jan 12, 2016 1:33 am

ronjazz wrote:One should attempt the standing position with a strap even if only for practicing; it will double your productivity. Any break from sitting with the guitar will be beneficial to most players. Here's an interesting side result: if you practice standing, and perform sitting, the guitar will feel very secure in performance, and the player will actually move a little more, which is good.
+1

AndreiKrylov

Re: Standard sitting posture - good for techniques but not for the body??

Post by AndreiKrylov » Tue Jan 12, 2016 1:34 am

AndreiKrylov wrote:
ronjazz wrote:One should attempt the standing position with a strap even if only for practicing; it will double your productivity. Any break from sitting with the guitar will be beneficial to most players. Here's an interesting side result: if you practice standing, and perform sitting, the guitar will feel very secure in performance, and the player will actually move a little more, which is good.
+1

Kalli

Re: Standard sitting posture - good for techniques but not for the body??

Post by Kalli » Wed Jan 13, 2016 3:49 pm

I am also a returning guitarist and want to do things right this time. I have been playing since June and I can't find an optimal sitting position so I bought a cheap keyboard stool. It is more comfortable but a bit high for my legs so I am using a footstool at its lowest position and an ergoplay support. I am also experimenting with leg positions and all the while trying to get good positions for right and left hands.

Thank you Robert e for your post. Will reread and see what I come up with.

AndreiKrylov

Re: Standard sitting posture - good for techniques but not for the body??

Post by AndreiKrylov » Wed Jan 13, 2016 5:03 pm

Kalli wrote:I am also a returning guitarist and want to do things right this time. I have been playing since June and I can't find an optimal sitting position so I bought a cheap keyboard stool. It is more comfortable but a bit high for my legs so I am using a footstool at its lowest position and an ergoplay support. I am also experimenting with leg positions and all the while trying to get good positions for right and left hands.

Thank you Robert e for your post. Will reread and see what I come up with.
some scientific evidence regarding "Standard sitting posture"

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6187080.stm

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-19910888

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guitarrista
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Re: Standard sitting posture - good for techniques but not for the body??

Post by guitarrista » Wed Jan 13, 2016 5:58 pm

AndreiKrylov wrote:
Kalli wrote:I am also a returning guitarist and want to do things right this time. I have been playing since June and I can't find an optimal sitting position so I bought a cheap keyboard stool. It is more comfortable but a bit high for my legs so I am using a footstool at its lowest position and an ergoplay support. I am also experimenting with leg positions and all the while trying to get good positions for right and left hands.

Thank you Robert e for your post. Will reread and see what I come up with.
some scientific evidence regarding "Standard sitting posture"

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6187080.stm

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-19910888
Well, that reference to a conference paper just compares sitting straight to basically having your upper body at 45 degrees to the back. Other studies show that completely lying down (supine, or horizontal like in bed) is the position putting the least strain on the back. Conversely, standing up straight is as "bad" or worse than sitting straight. Not sure what we are supposed to conclude from this - I am not going to play my guitar lying in bed (at least not in front of an audience) :-)

In any case, I would strongly caution anyone against changing what is comfortable for them because of a news reporter's interpretation of a single conference paper presented within a specific and limited context.
Last edited by guitarrista on Wed Jan 13, 2016 6:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Standard sitting posture - good for techniques but not for the body??

Post by guitarrista » Wed Jan 13, 2016 6:06 pm

A couple of years ago I changed to a modified flamenco posture - basically switched to having the right leg on up a footstool, instead of the left; the legs position is a mirror image of what the standard classical posture is. So the guitar is on my right thigh(*). After playing like that for a while, switching to a standard guitar posture seems very awkward - I feel that the fretboard moves way too much away to the left and I can feel myself twisting trying to adjust. So personally I feel better centered and with no twisting using the modified flamenco posture.

(*) However, its body is not parallel to the plane of my upper body, but rather at about 45 degrees with the fretboard sticking away.
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Lawler
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Re: Standard sitting posture - good for techniques but not for the body??

Post by Lawler » Wed Jan 13, 2016 6:17 pm

I found this article interesting, and in line with my own experience with back pain in the past.

http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsod ... -back-pain

Cao Nguyen

Re: Standard sitting posture - good for techniques but not for the body??

Post by Cao Nguyen » Wed Jan 13, 2016 6:28 pm

guitarrista wrote:A couple of years ago I changed to a modified flamenco posture - basically switched to having the right leg on up a footstool, instead of the left; the legs position is a mirror image of what the standard classical posture is. So the guitar is on my right thigh(*). After playing like that for a while, switching to a standard guitar posture seems very awkward - I feel that the fretboard moves way too much away to the left and I can feel myself twisting trying to adjust. So personally I feel better centered and with no twisting using the modified flamenco posture.

(*) However, its body is not parallel to the plane of my upper body, but rather at about 45 degrees with the fretboard sticking away.
I like this position, much better for the back than the standard position. However, the guitar is not as stable and you need to keep it in place with the right hand, which results in limited mobility. This position works much better with a guitar support so the right hand can move around more freely.

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Re: Standard sitting posture - good for techniques but not for the body??

Post by guitarrista » Wed Jan 13, 2016 6:38 pm

Cao Nguyen wrote:
guitarrista wrote:A couple of years ago I changed to a modified flamenco posture - basically switched to having the right leg on up a footstool, instead of the left; the legs position is a mirror image of what the standard classical posture is. So the guitar is on my right thigh(*). After playing like that for a while, switching to a standard guitar posture seems very awkward - I feel that the fretboard moves way too much away to the left and I can feel myself twisting trying to adjust. So personally I feel better centered and with no twisting using the modified flamenco posture.

(*) However, its body is not parallel to the plane of my upper body, but rather at about 45 degrees with the fretboard sticking away.
I like this position, much better for the back than the standard position. However, the guitar is not as stable and you need to keep it in place with the right hand, which results in limited mobility. This position works much better with a guitar support so the right hand can move around more freely.
I appreciate that it may not work for others - I have found a position where it is very stable without any mobility issues; I don't have to squeeze with my right arm, or anything like that, to keep it in place.
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Re: Standard sitting posture - good for techniques but not for the body??

Post by guitarrista » Wed Jan 13, 2016 6:50 pm

One thing which seems to be missing from the discussion on back pain and strain is that exercising so that one's muscles are properly conditioned/developed compensates for any differences in strain between different postures. In North America, a lot of people have lower back pain not because of a particular posture at work, but because they lead a very sedentary and exercise-free lifestyle overall (thus typically have very weak back muscles). To me, the most useful advice to sedentary people is not how to give their muscles even less to work with (by adjusting to almost lying positions etc.), which likely leaves them even more atrophied, but to increase exercise and therefore build up their muscles through progressive overload and recovery. This would have the effect of minimizing and eliminating back pain in many cases, as the muscles would become strong enough to support the spine and the body. Of course, all that applies more in a preventive sense - if one already has severe back problems, don't go out and start squating with 300lbs.
Konstantin
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AndreiKrylov

Re: Standard sitting posture - good for techniques but not for the body??

Post by AndreiKrylov » Wed Jan 13, 2016 7:17 pm

guitarrista wrote:
AndreiKrylov wrote:
Kalli wrote:I am also a returning guitarist and want to do things right this time. I have been playing since June and I can't find an optimal sitting position so I bought a cheap keyboard stool. It is more comfortable but a bit high for my legs so I am using a footstool at its lowest position and an ergoplay support. I am also experimenting with leg positions and all the while trying to get good positions for right and left hands.

Thank you Robert e for your post. Will reread and see what I come up with.
some scientific evidence regarding "Standard sitting posture"

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6187080.stm

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-19910888
Well, that reference to a conference paper just compares sitting straight to basically having your upper body at 45 degrees to the back. Other studies show that completely lying down (supine, or horizontal like in bed) is the position putting the least strain on the back. Conversely, standing up straight is as "bad" or worse than sitting straight. Not sure what we are supposed to conclude from this - I am not going to play my guitar lying in bed (at least not in front of an audience) :-)

In any case, I would strongly caution anyone against changing what is comfortable for them because of a news reporter's interpretation of a single conference paper presented within a specific and limited context.
certainly people should do what they feel the best for them.
Sitting straight or whatever...
But,
how did you come to "scientific" conclusion that sitting straight with guitar is the same as standing for your body and your back?
or that standing even worse?...

By the way there are thousands of scientific "papers'" now available which compare sitting and standing as the way to do things very favorably to standing.

I agree with your idea from another post that exercising is good, and yes it is good to exercise and be in a good shape for every guitarist, but at the same time why not to do what is by definition lot easier for our bodies - to keep guitar on strap and to play standing?
our bodies are very suited for standing and walking, but not to sitting in very artificial and inconvenient pose with guitar... and people do it more because of the cultural , historic custom rather than from any convenience and rational logic... nobody would even talk about it in a case of electric guitar or even acoustic guitar...people stand with guitars and do basically the same physical activity, yet somehow classical guitar playing is possible only by sitting?
Why?

Again , please continue to do what you like as you like it.
maybe you are young and have a good strong bones etc. - great for you!
but for people like me, not young with bad back - sitting with guitar is not an option.
Just for short periods maybe , but not for long time necessary for work.

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Re: Standard sitting posture - good for techniques but not for the body??

Post by guitarrista » Wed Jan 13, 2016 7:45 pm

AndreiKrylov wrote:
guitarrista wrote:
AndreiKrylov wrote:
some scientific evidence regarding "Standard sitting posture"

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/6187080.stm

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-19910888
Well, that reference to a conference paper just compares sitting straight to basically having your upper body at 45 degrees to the back. Other studies show that completely lying down (supine, or horizontal like in bed) is the position putting the least strain on the back. Conversely, standing up straight is as "bad" or worse than sitting straight. Not sure what we are supposed to conclude from this - I am not going to play my guitar lying in bed (at least not in front of an audience) :-)

In any case, I would strongly caution anyone against changing what is comfortable for them because of a news reporter's interpretation of a single conference paper presented within a specific and limited context.
certainly people should do what they feel the best for them.
Sitting straight or whatever...
But,
how did you come to "scientific" conclusion that sitting straight with guitar is the same as standing for your body and your back?
or that standing even worse?...
There is a paper by the same guy whose conference paper was referenced in the bbc piece, where they compared standing to lying. The main variable here is gravity and its effect on spine compression depending on how the spine aligns with gravity's direction (so in a way these papers are not presenting anything which is not obvious). This is why sitting straight and standing are not much different from THAT point of view. But of course I don't mind you standing with your guitar. My point is that it is silly to draw big conclusions from these spinal stress papers - I prefer to move around and stand tall - it might mean more compression compared to lying down, but I also develop stronger muscles that can more than support the difference. And, as you said, we are made for standing and walking upright - with the muscle adaptation to go with that.
Konstantin
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1982 Anselmo Solar Gonzalez

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