When Austin orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Barbara Bergin encourages women to Sit Like a Man, or S.L.A.M., she is not teaching girls to be less ladylike. Rather she is urging them to adopt a more relaxed approach to sitting, much like a man does. (No crossed legs!)
Bergin explains that S.L.A.M. is the natural way for everyone to sit. Cavewomen most likely sat this way, followed by women wearing long skirts later on throughout the centuries. Women did not sit with legs together and crossed until shorter skirts were introduced.
Bergin is addressing a very real problem seen throughout three decades of practicing medicine. About 90 percent of her patients with pain under their knee caps or along the outside of their hips are women. Every day she sees about two to three women for knee cap pain and the same number for hip bursitis.
Women’s lower extremities are mechanically aligned in a way which rotates the femur inward and knees into a kind of knock-kneed position, so alignment is partly to blame.
Making things worse, girls are taught to sit ‘like a lady’ with legs together or crossed.
Little can be done to change leg alignment, so Bergin focuses on what her patients can change – how they use their legs.
“I’m not suggesting you S.L.A.M. constantly. I still think it’s best to keep legs shut when wearing a skirt and in the presence of men. It’s just proper and ladylike. But 90 percent of the time, sitting like a man is fine, and certainly better for your health,’ she said.
Dr. Bergin’s book “Sit Like a Man” hits shelves next year.