What is the Correct Sitting Posture?

C. Mitchell

Correct sitting posture is achieved by sitting up straight with shoulders back and spine erect, hips flush against the chair, and feet flat on the floor. In most situations, particularly when standing, the human body naturally adopts a posture that balances tension and keeps pressure off of the muscles and bones in the spine. Proper posture is not usually something people think about until they get it wrong—that is, until they begin to have backaches, headaches, or experience muscle fatigue. People who sit stationary for long hours, particularly when crouching into a computer monitor, are most at risk for incorrect posture. Often, sitting posture can be corrected by rearranging office ergonomics, adjusting the chair, and paying more attention to the spine’s orientation.

Having an erect spine is part of the correct sitting posture.
Having an erect spine is part of the correct sitting posture.

Doctors and chiropractors around the world agree that the correct sitting posture is achieved first by sitting up straight, as if standing, with shoulders back and chest out. The hips should touch the back of the chair, but the lower back should not: there should be a small hollow in the lumbar region of the lower back. In other words, the natural curves of the spine should be maintained. The feet should be flat on the floor.

Although ergonomic chairs can greatly improve posture, it's still important to take stretch breaks throughout the day.
Although ergonomic chairs can greatly improve posture, it's still important to take stretch breaks throughout the day.

It is generally easy to achieve the proper sitting posture when consciously implementing each step. It can be harder to maintain the position over time. Doctors recommend that people who sit for long periods of time use some sort of lumbar support tool to help the spine retain its curves while sitting. Lumbar support bars and pillows can be purchased, but a rolled up towel or t-shirt can have the same effect when placed in the small of back.

Posture support is perhaps most needed for people who spend long days at an office desk. The first thing to do when evaluating office posture or desk posture is to assess how supportive the work station is of correct sitting posture. If there is a computer on the desk, it is very important that the keyboard can be reached and the monitor comfortably seen from the correct posture position.

Many companies have ergonomics departments or specialists who can help individual employees assess how their workstations promote or detract from correct sitting posture. Achieving proper office posture can be as simple as adjusting the height of the desk chair, or adjusting the positioning or height of the computer monitor. An ergonomics specialist might also recommend a posture chair. Posture chairs are ergonomically designed to force the body into a correct sitting posture.

Adopting proper sitting posture can improve many aspects of daily life, and promotes spine health over time. Training the spine to sit properly can keep bones aligned, reduces the chance of arthritis, and can eliminate the backaches and muscular pain that come with poor posture. Correct sitting posture can take some time to get used to, but the positive effects over time make it well worth it.

Bad sitting posture can have long-term health implications for portions of the spine.
Bad sitting posture can have long-term health implications for portions of the spine.

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