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Best Sitting Posture? We can help you!

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Best sitting posture is a common question amongst patients suffering postural pain. How to sit properly to prevent back pain with advice on back pain relief exercises and best office chair selection.

Do I sit right Doctor? Our bodies were not designed to sit down for long hours, but somehow modern life requires the vast majority of the global population to work in a seated position.

bad sitting posture

In 2006, a study conducted at Woodend Hospital in Aberdeen, Scotland found that a 135 body-thigh angle sitting posture was demonstrated to be the best biomechanical sitting position as opposed to the 90 posture which most people consider normal.

The study involved the use of a “positional MRI machine ” which allowed patients freedom of motion, such as standing or sitting, during imaging. Patients assumed three different sitting postures: slouched, upright (90) and reclined (135). Note that the reclined position was achieved by tilting the seat forward so that the hips were higher than the knees but the torso remained perpendicular to the floor.

The MRI machine was used to observe the effects these postures had on the spine, specifically, the intervertebral discs. Of the three sitting postures, the 135 trunk-thigh appeared to cause the least amount of strain on the lumbar spine. The worst seated posture is the forward bending or “slouched” position, like hunching over a desk, followed closely by the 90 posture with a straight back and legs parallel to the floor.

When sitting at a 90 trunk-thigh angle, your knees are level with your hips and thus your abdominals are required to work extra hard to keep you straight. If you try sitting in this way, you will notice your abdominal and hip flexor muscles contracting against the force of gravity wanting to push your torso into a more reclined position. Soon, you will become tired and slouch forward.

sitting posture

lumbar spine mri

The 135 trunk-thigh angle posture is a guideline only. A reasonably obtuse angle allows the user to sit in a chair, with the seat tilted downward slightly and the feet flat. This provides enough of a reclined position to relieve spinal stress without sliding out of the chair.

best sitting posture

lumbar mri scan

In a healthy spine there are three natural curves. When looking at someone from the side you should see a concave curve at the neck, a convex curve spanning the chest and mid-back, and another concave curve at the lower back known as the lumbar lordosis.

lumbar lordosis

An increased lumbar lordosis puts excess pressure on the lower back because it shifts the body’s centre of gravity posteriorly onto the less weight-bearing structures of the lumbar spine – the facet joints. Increased pressure on facet joints causes general pain, stiffness and restricted movement in the lumbar spine.

poor sitting posture
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bad mri posture

Back pain is a leading cause of work-related disability, much of which can be attributed to long periods of sitting. Slouched sitting has a terrible effect on the intervertebral discs, simply put, it causes them to dry out. If the discs are not properly hydrated, they reduce in height and can potentially encroach upon the surrounding nerves exiting the spinal canal. More commonly, this occurs in the lumbar spine leading to conditions such as sciatica and generalised lower back pain and stiffness.

To combat low back pain read my earlier post on back pain relief exercises. Further to that, find a chair that can be adjusted to open up the hip angle. This is a chair with the ability to tilt the seat forward and encourage this natural posture. Alternatively, visit Ergoport in North Sydney to inspect a great range of ergonomic chairs and other furniture.

Sadly, today we are more static than we are mobile. We sit in a chair all day, sit on our way to and from work, then sit and watch television before going to sleep. We were made to be mobile, not static, and as I’ve always said,

“It doesn’t matter what direction, just keep moving!”

*DISCLAIMER: This discussion does not provide medical advice. The
information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and
other material contained in this discussion are for informational
purposes only. The purpose of this discussion is to promote broad
consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not
intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis
or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other
qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding
a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health
care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay
in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog.

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