.. dead serious.
This is the story of how a butt cushion changed my life.
If you work a desk job OR decorate your cookies sitting down like me, you might be familiar with lower back and/or hip discomfort. And that’s just one part of it, you probably have repetitive movement injuries in your hands (maybe some carpel tunnel), and your neck might be kinked. A lot of us (including myself for a long time) will brush this off as “part of the gig”. That’s not a healthy way to operate, but that’s the reality many of us exist in… something not unique to our industry 😉
I frequently get asked about what I do to combat the posture discomfort and ergonomics when we decorate cookies, and I don’t have an answer for everyone, but I do want to share what’s helped me.
It’s a simple solution – a portable ergonomic butt cushion. I got mine from Amazon. I used to experience sporadic pain deep in my hip socket (and it would always alternate sides), about a year after I started my desk job in 2011. Around 2014, I saw a lot of doctors- from GPs to chiros. We even took Xrays and ultrasounds to try to figure out what could be causing this pain.
It got so bad that sometimes, I could barely walk- it felt like my brain could not tell my legs to take a step, in fear that it would trigger the sharp pain. While there wasn’t a lot of walking in the office at the time, I still moved around often to collaborate with people, and it affected me – to the point where I had to let some people know how hard it was for me to get around on certain days; pretty embarrassing and uncomfortable- I had no specific thing I could call it.
A few different chiros ended up giving me the same insight – whatever weird shit was going on in my body, my hip pain was a result of the combination of horrible sitting posture, twisting my legs when sitting (not just crossing… I was doing like, pretzel twists.. apparently, flexible joints, *shrug*), sitting at an angle, leaning. The pain would also be increased the week before my period. So many parts of our body is connected and there’s still so much we don’t know about it – to this day, we’re not really sure what’s causing the pain beyond a combination of horrible posture and PMS making it worse.
… 25 year old me was unwilling to believe that at this young age, I had weird body shit going on. In other aspects and in general, I’m perfectly healthy and average. I’d spent thousands of dollars and a lot of time going to appointments + suffered through a ton of additional pain from the chiro that all lead ultimately to them telling me that I *needed* to find a way to better my posture or else this is going to come back.
But sitting/standing ergonomically, being consistent about it, stretching more and walking more etc. wasn’t really a priority at that time in my life. So I sought out other solutions like doing specific myofascial release techniques and etc. Nothing really helped- and everyone was right, the pain would always return every month or two.
The silly part about sporadic pain is because it comes and goes- if you live a fast pace, busy life, it doesn’t bother you until it’s bothering you, and at that point, it’s too late. You deal with it, and make a temporary change. When things get better, you revert back to your old habits and that cycle repeats.
I was teaching a cookie decorating class in 2019 (if you’re doing math, I’ve been hurting for 5+ years now.. on and off, and one of my students had a cushion with her to class (what a good idea, seriously). It wasn’t fancy- a pillow of sorts and had some foam. She told me that it gave her comfort when sitting, and that it relieved some pain in her back and hips. She said it helped with her posture, and that’s all I needed to hear.
Could something as simple as a butt cushion alleviate some of the pain I was experiencing?
I consulted google, and stumbled upon MANY butt cushion options on Amazon. Within 5 minutes I’d ordered an ergonomic memory foam cushion and it was in my hands 2 days later. I simply picked one with around 4.5 stars and honestly didn’t really have high hopes.
No one is perfectly symmetrical. In reality, in addition to being uneven from just… life… we’re uneven from the positions and activities we do on the daily. Our posture has an impact on how we feel, how mobile we are.
For me, sitting is the thing that messes me up good. Contrary to what a lot of people assume, I don’t bake all day. In actuality, I rarely bake- most of my time is spent writing – planning, business docs, emails, copy for products, website, communications with other people. Content creation and editing. Most of my day is spent sitting in front of a computer, probably hunched over. And before this, I decorated cookies at scale and also worked a desk job, so arguably, my posture was even worse.
But the moment I started using a butt cushion every day whist working or decorating – I had no hip pain. It forced me to sit a certain way: more even, legs spread comfortably and even helped me sit more upright, engaging my core with less hunching over. It took some getting used to.
In the first year, I’d use it on and off- I always reverted back to my old habits when I wasn’t using the cushion, most of the time not realizing until just 30 minutes have past and I’m so lopsided in my seat that my body alerted me to stretch or move to get rid of the discomfort. This discomfort would almost always turn into pain the next day, and I’d deal with 3 days of pain before I give in and realize I should just keep using the cushion.
Am I saying that a butt cushion is going to be the cure all for everything? Absolutely not. Is this medical advice? Heck no. But for around $50, if you can alleviate some discomfort from your job or something you spend a lot of time doing—why NOT? (it goes without saying this is only if you are in a position where you can… I recognize that not everyone can.)
I’ve been using a butt cushion consistently, and in year 2, my pain was a rare event. Am I “cured”??
Just a few weeks ago (fast forward: April 2022), I thought to myself “my body feels GREAT. I haven’t had pain in like 6 months, fuck the cushion, I’m a strong person. I’m gonna decorate withOUT it. I refuse to be held captive by a butt cushion”.
… of course, my pride got the better of me, and before I knew it, I was back in my pretzeled position for a few stretches of computer work and decorating. Twisted and hunched. Immediately the next day, I had regrets. I broke my 6 month pain-free streak.
BTW- I’m not paid to tell you about this butt cushion. And I wouldn’t have said anything at all, if I didn’t “relapse”. And I feel so strongly about it that I took the better part of my day to write this, because if I can help just 1 more person to get them a little relief, it will be worth it. If you want one, check out your options on Amazon. The one I specifically own is THIS. It’s been 2 years since my initial purchase, and I just got myself a replacement as the cushion has worn down quite a bit from continued use. You can also check out ergonomic saddle stools, for those who want a more permanent solution for their workspace.
Also, I cannot understate the important of movement and some kind of consistent exercise (it doesn’t have to be anything hard core)- activities like walking, or making an effort to get up every hour could make a huge difference.
If you have a access to healthcare, I really, REALLY urge you to discuss your discomfort with someone. No one should be suffering pain if they don’t absolutely have to. Wishing you a happier, more ergonomic working/decorating <3 . If you have any additional tips, drop ’em in the comments, would love to hear from you!