by Joon Nah BScPT
updated July 16, 2020
Sit improperly for only a few hours a week and you can start getting back, neck, and shoulder pain. How many of us do this 40 hours a week at our jobs? And a few more hours at home evenings and weekends? It’s no wonder that poor sitting posture is one of the most common contributors to orthopaedic injuries and impairments.
Rather than just learning to sit “straight”, here are some tips to help you sit “right”.
1. Hips to the back of your chair
Move your hips as far back into the chair as they can go. This will allow your body to maintain full contact with the chair back, allowing the muscles that keep your back upright to relax.
2. Use a lumbar support
If your chair does not adequately cradle your low back curve (lumbar spine) with a built in support, then get one. Purchase a lumbar support or roll, and attach it to your chair to match the curve in your low back. The bottom of the lumbar roll should be approximately level with the top of your pelvis.
3. Thighs and forearms parallel to the floor
This means adjusting the height of your chair, if possible your desk, or using a support under your feet.
4. Work with your elbows at your sides
Don’t spend too much time reaching forward while you’re working. Sit close to your desk. Bring the keyboard and mouse closer to you, or better yet, use a keyboard tray installed to your desk.
5. Look straight ahead
This means keeping your screen at head level. This also means prolonged laptop use is out, unless you are able to prop it up to eye level and use a separate keyboard and mouse in line with your elbows.
Even if you’re sitting like you invented proper posture, it can take its toll if done too long. Build in to your schedule, a quick stand up and stretch every 15 minutes, and a 5 min walk around the office every hour, to combat stress and strain on your body.
Is an expensive chair necessary for good posture?
It should have the ability to adjust in enough ways to allow you to incorporate the above 5 tips. Anything more are just frills.
Joon Nah BScPT
Joon is an experienced and skilled physiotherapist with deep knowledge of orthopaedics, vestibular rehabilitation and concussion management. He has provided many ergonomic assessments and proper posture presentations to workplaces and employers across the Greater Toronto Area.
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