Like most folks I spend a lot of my day at a desk writing chart notes, reviewing MRI imagining studies, and the myriad of things I need to do during my work day as a chiropractic physician. So here are some helpful tips about why our backs start to bother us when we sit for long periods of time, and also some helpful tips on how you can achieve a perfect posture while sitting at your desk and hopefully prevent your back from bothering you!
The reality is that when you sit for too long it can cause your low back muscles and hip flexors (the muscles that allow you to lift your knees and bend at your waist) to become short and tight.
If you slump over in your desk chair all day it makes your abdominal muscles lose tone and can cause your gluteal muscles (also known as the buttocks) to become overstretched and weak.
Prolonged sitting can also result in an anterior (or front) tilt, which is a shortening of the hip flexor muscles. When you move from a prolonged sitting position to an upright one, the shortened hip flexors inevitably pull on the muscle attachments of the lumbar (low back) spine, and this can cause an anterior shift in the hips. This often puts an unwanted strain on the lower back, exaggerates the lumbar curve and potentially can cause a bulging or herniated disc.
If you do have to sit for extended periods of time, maintaining good posture is the most important thing you can do! Chronic slouching or leaning to one side, even if these positions make pain subside, are bad habits that often lead to back pain. Sitting in a chair with good low back support is definitely important.
If you are going to be sitting for a long time try to rest your feet on a low stool. Whenever possible switch sitting positions and get up and walk around a bit throughout the day. This will give your muscle groups ‘physiologic’ rest and improve their function.
Here are 8 simple moves you can do throughout the day while you are sitting to reprogram your body to sit correctly and with good posture. Your back will thank you so give them a try!
8 Tips For Perfect Desk Posture
- Sit back in your chair. If you can’t sit back, support your low back with a lumbar roll, rolled towel or small pillow.
- Don’t lean forward and sit on the edge of your chair. This will cause your low back to arch, your head to drop forward and your shoulders to round.
- Drop your shoulders and keep them relaxed, so it doesn’t look like you’re wearing them as earrings.
- Keep your arms close to your sides.
- Make sure your elbows are bent 90 degrees.
- Stretch the top of your head toward the ceiling, and tuck your chin in slightly.
- Keep your upper back and neck comfortably straight by rolling your shoulders back and tucking in your tummy about 20 percent.
- Place your feet flat on the floor, pointing them forward so your knees are level with your hips. If necessary, prop up your feet with a footstool or other support.
So there you have it! Eight easy tips for you to follow on your pathway to good posture!