ProPhysiotherapy’s Points For Correct Sitting Posture

Many of our patients report of problems that relate to how they sit – tightness at the tops of their shoulders, neck pain and headaches, pain between their shoulder blades and lower back pain, amongst others. If you feel pain, tightness or stiffness during or after sitting and you spend a lot of your time behind a desk, in a car or travelling by train or aeroplane then the chances are the way, or amount of time you spend sitting is a problem.

A few simple pieces of advice and education on setting up your desk can make an enormous difference.

Our patients tend to say sitting is uncomfortable after a while, whether 15 minutes or an hour, or that they just feel a bit achy at the end of the day. Really, this is not surprising – too much of any one position or movement can make you feel uncomfortable. Run for too long and you will get sore legs, stand for too long and you will get sore feet, carry something for too long and you will get sore hands. So our first piece of advice is simple – move! Changing position will give your body a break. A good goal might be to stand up for 5 minutes continuously every hour to give your body a chance to avoid being hunched over a desk or slouched in your aeroplane seat for too long.

People can forget that their chair is a support for them. Years of prompting to sit up straight can mean we try too hard to pull ourselves up. If you try to hold yourself upright for 8 or more hours a day, your neck and upper back muscles will fatigue and it’s no wonder they might feel achy. Similarly, constantly reaching forward with your mouse hand or poking your chin forward takes the weight of your head and body away from the support of your chair, putting the postural muscles in your neck and upper back at a mechanical disadvantage. This means they have to work really hard to support you – just like carrying a heavy weight at arms length instead of close to your chest. Once again, the muscles fatigue and can be painful or feel tight.

correct desk posture

How to Get the Most Support out of Your Chair

  1. Make sure your feet are supported by the floor, or a foot stool if necessary, and your thighs are flat to the surface of your chair as opposed to having your knees sagging down or pushing up towards your shoulders. This will prevent you sliding forward into a slumped position or creeping forward onto the edge of your chair.
  2. Both of the above mean your lower back doesn’t get any support. Ideally, you want your lower back in contact with the back of your chair. If your chair isn’t quite the right dimension for you, you may need a small lumbar support to maintain a little curve in your lower back.
  3. Lower back support means your shoulder blades and upper back should easily be able to relax into the chair. The back of your chair should be upright and come up to the top of your shoulders.
  4. Your chair should have arms or you should have it set to an appropriate height to allow your shoulders to hang straight down and have your forearms supported by your desk, keeping your shoulder blades neither hunched nor sagging.
  5. If, with all this support, you feel like your chin is poking forward a bit, then try to gently bring your chin towards your voice-box and lengthen the back of your neck. This is a subtle movement, so if you think you’re working really hard – do less!

foam rollingWhen you follow these tips, many of the muscles around your neck, shoulders and back simply don’t have to work as hard to keep you upright in sitting. You’ll also keep your joints in the middle of their range, which tends to be more comfortable. This means your muscles won’t get as tired and you should not get as much pain, tightness or stiffness.

If you’re not quite sure of any of the above, or getting pain anyway despite implementing these changes, then you might need some exercises to get your postural muscles stronger or some hands-on treatment to help with any joint stiffness or muscle tension while you change your sitting habits.

Give us a call on 020 8879 1555 or email enquiries@prophysiotherapy.co.uk so we can help you sit properly and without pain!

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