The Southeastern Spine Institute

Proper Posture When Seated

Proper posture doesn’t come naturally; you have to train your body to sit and stand “correctly.” Medical science has come a long way in the past few decades. Doctors and physical therapists at The Southeastern Spine Institute now know the postures that place the least amount of strain on your back and your connective tissues.

Because it’s relatively easy to see when someone isn’t standing up straight, everyone gets a lesson in standing posture. Correct sitting posture, however, often gets left out of the training because it is so effortless. You’re not fighting gravity so heartily when you sit.

But you can develop significant side effects from using improper sitting postures. Everyone is familiar with back, shoulder and neck pain that occurs after sitting for long periods of time without concern for posture. Other negative effects can include:

  • Increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease
  • Reduced circulation
  • Gastrointestinal difficulties
  • Headaches
  • Bad mood
  • Lower productivity

Invest in a Chair

It helps to sit in an ergonomic chair that supports your lumbar and adjusts to suit your height. An effective chair has levers to tilt the chair so your buttocks touch the back of the chair while your feet are flat on the floor with your knees bent comfortably. It has lumbar support for your lower back that adjusts for both depth and height. The back should have adjustments for angle and height. The ideal seat is sufficiently padded and covered with a cloth material.

These tips can help you maintain a healthy back when you’re seated:

  • Keep your back straight with your shoulders back
  • Maintain evenly distributed weight between both hips
  • Put feet flat on the floor with knees slightly above your hip level
  • Adjust chair height so that your arms are in a straight line, nearly parallel to the floor
  • Keep your head facing slightly forward, in line with your core
  • Shift positions slightly every 30 minutes
  • Make small adjustment in your chair throughout the day

Sit Down, Stand Up

It’s not healthy to sit for more than an hour without standing up. Allow your circulation to move through your body as you stretch your back and legs. Walk around for a few minutes. Follow these tips to train your body to sit, stand and stay pain-free:

  • Turn your entire body when pivoting in a chair that swivels or rolls
  • Move to the edge of your chair before standing and use your legs to stand, without bending
  • Stretch smoothly in a back bend after sitting for long periods of time