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What is the best way to sit?

Article by: HealthTimes | Leon Straker, Curtin University

Many people spend most of their waking hours sitting – at home, commuting and at work.

Particularly when we’re sitting for long periods at a desk, there are a few things to keep in mind.

How should we sit?

There is not just one way of sitting. Different ways of sitting will place different physical stresses on our bodies, and variety is good.

To work out if a posture is “good” or not, we can assess it based on several things:

  • The amount of muscle activity required to hold the position

  • The estimated stress on joints, including the discs between the vertebral bones of the spine

  • Whether the joints are in the middle of their range of movement or near the extreme

  • The amount of fidgeting people do

Option 1: Upright sitting

A key component of upright sitting is that the feet can comfortably rest on a surface, whether the floor or a footstool.

This position also makes it easy to adjust posture within the chair and change posture to get out of the chair. It is important that the arms hang down from the shoulders vertically with elbows by the trunk, unless the forearms are supported on the work surface. The head should be looking straight ahead or little downwards.

This posture is useful for common office tasks such as working on a desktop computer.

Option 2: Forward sitting

The defining feature of this posture is that the trunk is angled forward, and the arms are rested on the work surface. Allowing the thigh to point down at an angle may make it easier to maintain an inward curve in your lower back, which is suggested to reduce low back stress.

For a time special chairs were developed to enable the thigh to be angled downwards, and usually had a feature to block the knees, stopping the person sliding off the angled seat base.

By perching on the front of an ordinary chair and resting your elbows on the work surface, you can use this posture to provide variety in sitting.

Option 3: Reclined sitting

The defining feature of the third option is the trunk is angled backward, supported by the chair’s backrest. Back muscle activity is lowest in this posture, as some of the upper body weight is taken by the chair.

This position may reduce the risk of fatigue in the back muscles and result in discomfort. But sitting like this for hours each day may result in the back muscles being more vulnerable to fatigue in the future.

If you are experiencing any back pain, call us at 9793 3119!

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