Updated: Feb 10
Maintaining good posture and a healthy back requires a proper sitting position. For sitting, there is no one or single body posture that is recommended. It varies, and each person can change the angles of their hips, knees, ankles, and elbows to adjust their posture and sit comfortably. Sitting straight with your back and shoulders can avoid common back and spine problems like lower back pain and stiff neck.
But what causes someone to lose their proper sitting posture?
There are numerous reasons one may lose proper sitting posture, and we have compiled a list of five common causes of poor sitting posture that you can avoid or reduce in the future.
Though modern technology has benefited the human race in numerous ways, nothing is without drawbacks. Technology has drastically altered our lives, and unfortunately, these changes include excessive use of mobile phones, televisions, computers, and tablets. These devices have taken a significant toll on our health. For example, bending in awkward positions while using these devices can cause neck, back, and shoulders pain.
Tech neck is a term that describes overworking muscles while using phones, tablets, and computers, resulting in neck and shoulder pain, stiffness, and soreness. It is a common and growing problem in the current world. This is now commonly called text neck syndrome .
2. Muscle tenseness or weakness:
If you have a stronger or weaker muscle than the others, you are more likely to have poor posture. For example, if you have a weak abdomen due to insufficient exercise, your body will rely on your back muscles for stability, resulting in increased back pain.
If you've ever had an injury, you'll know that the muscles around the injury site spasm to protect the injured body part. Unfortunately, the constantly spasming forces can eventually weaken, resulting in a muscular imbalance that can affect your posture.
4. Poor footwear:
Wearing the wrong shoes can cause back pain. Many people are unaware of how much the shoes they wear can influence and aggravate back pain. This is especially true for women who enjoy wearing stiletto heels, which can throw their bodies out of alignment and stress the back, resulting in poor posture.
Extra weight around the midsection can pull the pelvis forward, causing spine misalignment and further pressure on your lower back, resulting in poor posture.
What is good posture?
Posture is the attitude assumed by the body either with support or as a result of the coordinated action performed by a group of muscles working to maintain stability. There are two kinds.
1. Dynamic posture:
It refers to holding your body while moving or doing something physical. Walking, running, or bending over to pick something up are all examples of dynamic posture.
2. Static posture:
It is a way of holding your body when you are not moving. For example, when sitting, standing, or sleeping.
Every individual must ensure that they have good dynamic and static postures. A good posture is essential for long-term health. Always keep your body in the right position, whether moving or standing still. Maintaining good posture can help you avoid pain, injuries, and other health issues.
A good posture will help your body,
1. Reduce your body's strain during physical movement and exercise.
2. Reduce the likelihood of joint, muscle, and ligament wear and tear.
3. Keep your balance while moving and exercising.
4. Reduce the possibility of muscle strain and overuse.
5. Better overall spine health.
Types of sitting posture
The way people sit is frequently a subconscious decision made while focusing on other things. A person's sitting posture is primarily determined by the type of sitting equipment they use, which includes
1. The office chair
2. An armchair
3. Ergonomic seat
7. Car seat
And the following are examples of sitting postures on this equipment:
1. Hunched forward
2. Slumped backwards
5. Slouching to one side
6. Perched on the edge of the seat
7. Upright, with or without lumbar support
8. One knee crossed over the other
9. Ankles crossed
How to achieve the best sitting position
1. Make sure your hips and knees are at about a 90-degree angle. You want this at a 90-degree angle because it means your legs aren't hanging off the edge, they're not up very high or low, and they're in an excellent neutral position, which will aid in preventing knee and hip pain. The angle can be a little different, but it should be close to 90. Lifting or lowering your chair to achieve the proper angle is always beneficial. You can also put something in your chair to raise it a little higher if necessary.
2. Make sure that your feet are flat on the floor. This can be difficult for shorter people, so get something like a stool to put your feet on, maybe a phone book, to ensure your feet are flat on the floor. Always keep your feet balanced on the floor and your hips and knees at a 90-degree angle. So if you're a little shorter and feel like you're not quite touching, it'll mess up your posture and cause much pain in the long run.
3. Make sure your back is in a good neutral position and that it's supported because if you have a chair that doesn't already have the support, you'll end up slouching to get your back into the chair, or you'll start hunching over, which causes a lot of pain in your neck, shoulders, and even your back. So having a nice and comfy back cushion helps put some support in there and often enables you to sit up straighter.
4. When working at your desk, make sure your arm isn't up too high or way down low. If you have to lean forward a little bit, that's fine; it's not going to change the degree there, but that's about the height you want. People sometimes have that extra shelf where their keyboard is, but that's where you want your height to be to keep that neutral position. So you want your elbows to be comfortable and neutral, usually around 90 degrees.
5. The last one is for your neck, which is also essential. There's a combination piece where you want your monitor to be at eye level, which will help keep your neck in a neutral position. So if you have your screens up, you have to look back, which strains your neck, and if it's down low, like a laptop or something, you have to look down, which gives you a text neck, which overstretched those muscles. So it should be at eye level if you're looking straight ahead. And if you can't do that, keep an eye on your neck posture throughout the day, and don't walk forward. And the best way to accomplish this is to perform a few chin tucks throughout the day. You want your head to be in that neutral position so that your chin is not down low or up high. Being in that neutral position will help you avoid a lot of back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, and even lower back pain because if you're not in that neutral position, you'll be putting a lot of pressure on your bottom, which will cause numbness and tingling down your legs.
Benefits of good posture
1. Increased confidence:
Research shows that good posture helps you take space and send signals to the brain. As a result, your brain produces more testosterone and lowers cortisol levels, making you feel calmer and more confident.
2. Improves energy:
When your body is in optimal alignment, everything tends to function better. Unlike poor posture, which causes fatigue and tiredness, good posture can help one perform better at work by keeping them focused and energized.
3. Improves your mood and reduces anxiety:
According to a 2018 study by NeuroRegulation, good posture can help relieve anxiety. Your body reduces depressive feelings by sitting straight with shoulders down, improving your mood and relieving anxiety.
4. Easier to breathe:
Slouching can cause lung capacity to decrease, resulting in shortness of breath. As a result, you may need help to focus and complete your best work. To make breathing easier, try to keep your body posture in a better position.
5. Reduced frequency of headaches:
Headaches are unpleasant, and did you know that poor body posture can cause frequent headaches? According to a 2016 study, taking breaks during the workday to do head and neck relaxation exercises resulted in significantly less muscle tenderness and headaches. The primary cause of frequent headaches is poor posture, which causes tension in the upper back, neck, and shoulders, resulting in headaches that manifest as throbbing pain in the base of the skull and occasionally the forehead.
6. Reduced injury risk:
It keeps our bones and joints in proper alignment so that our muscles can be appropriately used, reducing the abnormal wear of joint surfaces that can lead to degenerative arthritis and joint pain. Reduce the stress on the ligaments that hold the spinal joints together, lowering the risk of injury.
7. Productivity gains:
Posture has a significant and direct impact on productivity levels among coworkers. Through the studies provided below, it has been demonstrated time and again that proper posture can improve productivity, impacting society as a whole.
What sitting positions to avoid
1. Tilt the head forward to avoid neck injury
2. Avoid sitting without lumbar support to prevent back pain
3. To avoid neck and shoulder pain, work with your arms raised
4. Wrist flexion to avoid wrist pain and muscle cramps
5. To prevent shoulder and back pain, work with unsupported forearms
6. Shoulder raising or lowering
7. Keeping your elbows away from your body
8. Reaching for things always, especially when bending or twisting the back, is necessary.
9. Cramming thighs beneath a worktable reduces blood circulation
10. Not providing adequate body support or stability when sitting in a chair
12. Excessively arching the lower back.
13. Forward leaning without supporting bodyweight.
14. Reclining the chair's backrest more than 30 degrees
15. Swaying feet
In the digital age, we tend to spend more time sitting down. While this cannot be avoided, sitting incorrectly can lead to poor back health. However, by engaging in optimal activity, being aware of your posture while sitting, and following simple rules, you can self-correct and reap the benefits of good posture.
In addition, incorporating exercise into your daily routine, taking occasional breaks from your desk, and moving around from time to time can help with good posture.
About The Author: Dr. Surendra Patil
Dr. Surendra Patil, MBBS, Diploma in Orthopaedics, DNB - Orthopedics Surgery, is a dynamic surgeon with skilled hands well versed in various surgical procedures in orthopedics and exceptionally well-read in his chosen expertise. He is proficient in Arthroscopic Surgeries, Adult Joint Reconstruction Surgery, Accidents & Emergencies, Joint Replacement, Healthcare Management, and Healthcare in general. He is an experienced Medical Professional with a demonstrated history of working in the hospital & healthcare industry.