Written By Ellen Welter, PT, DPT, COMT, CN
Illinois began its stay home order on March 20th and we are now into the 10th week. Our jobs have moved from some movement to next to none, working on our computers and phones from our “home offices” have drastically changed our days. Sitting for the majority of the day may now be your normal. Sitting for prolonged periods of time in poor posture can lead to overuse conditions throughout the body, but most commonly in the neck, upper and lower back.
Good sitting posture:
- Sit with both your feet on the floor
- Sit with your knees at or below the height of your hips
- Keep shoulders relaxed, use arm rests for the forearms
- Keep head over the shoulders, as the head falls forward it places more strain on the neck.
- Keep elbows rested on desk or armrests at 90 degrees
- Screens should be about 20 inches from eyes (about arms length away), if it’s a large screen you may need additional space
- Screens should be about 20 degrees below eye level
- Sit with low back supported
Sitting postures to avoid:
- Slouching in a bed, soft chair or couch.
- This creates rounded lower back and places your hip flexors (iliopsoas) into a shortened position which can become painful.
- Crossing legs while seated – this can rotate your lumbar spine and if done for prolonged periods of time can irritate the facet joints or shortened/tight muscles
- Sitting in one posture for a prolonged period of time
- Sitting with the legs unsupported
Additional tips to improve your working space:
- Listen to your body: move when you need to move, stretch, take a break, your body will let you know when something doesn’t feel right.
- Be aware of your posture: reset your posture when you notice your upper back or lower back rounding, or your head falling forward.
- Move around every hour, even better go for a brisk walk. Stretch out lower legs: quad stretch, hip flexor stretch (can do in standing or in a lunge position), prone press up (lay on stomach and press up onto elbows or extend arms).
- Keep everything you need within arms reach.
- Look down with your eyes, not your neck.
- Use a phone headset, avoid using shoulder to hold phone.
Many people spend the majority of the day sitting. Sitting can be bad for your back health and posture. Nevertheless, knowing what good sitting posture is and making a few corrections can achieve good posture. In addition to having good posture, taking frequent breaks, stretching, and exercising can reduce chances of injury.
If you have difficulty sitting correctly due to tightness or discomfort, a skilled physical therapist can evaluate your posture and provide a treatment plan to help improve your posture.