The term was first used to describe Kate Middleton’s “zig-zag” sitting posture with her legs angled opposite her trunk (sometimes with the ankles crossed) while maintaining an upright posture with shoulders squared. It’s popular among royals because it supposedly looks more flattering when being photographed. Princess Diana and Meghan Markle have also been photographed using the “Duchess Slant.”
As a chiropractor, I cringe when I see this posture being used - these women are sitting for long periods of time in a position that can be harmful to the biomechanics of the spine and pelvis. Let’s break it down:
It creates an un-level foundation.
When you are sitting in a chair, you should always focus to have even pressure exerted on your ischial tuberosities (these are the bony bump you have on each side of your buttocks. In yoga class, you may hear these referred to your “sit bones”). When sitting with your legs angled to one side, it creates an un-level foundation for the pelvis, causing and uneven shift of weight to one side of the body. This uneven shift of weight causes the body to try to compensate for these imbalances, which can cause biomechanical problems down the road.
It causes rotation in the lower thoracic spine.
To create the illusion of longer legs, these women angle their legs to the side and downward, causing them to have to rotate their trunk upright to create the illusion of proper upright posture and squaring of their shoulders. Because the lumbar spine (those are your 5 lower spinal segments) does not allow for much rotational movement, the majority of this rotational force will get distributed to your lower thoracic spine, and can cause pre-mature wear and tear in this area. Our psoas muscles (or hip flexors) also attach here, and any disruption in the motion segments can lead to an imbalance in tone in the very important muscles, along with our other postural and support muscles connected to the spine in this area.
The health of our spinal column is responsible for transmitting all of the information between our brain and body. Any disruption in the normal motion of our spine can lead to an interruption in this communication, which can lead to degeneration in our spine, and degradation of our health. Check out our blog post and video, A Beginner's Guide to Chiropractic, to see how chiropractic can help address the health of your body by improving the health of your spine.