Correct sitting technique

Most people sitting for prolonged periods will eventually adopt a poor posture. When people sit in a certain position for a few minutes, the muscles that support back become tired, and relax. The body sags and this results in the slouched sitting posture.

If people maintain a slouched sitting posture for long enough, it will cause overstretching of ligaments. Thus pain will arise when we have been sitting in certain positions for prolonged periods. Once the slouched sitting posture has become a habit and is maintained most of the time, it may also cause distortion of the discs contained in the vertebral joints. Once this occurs movements as well as positions will produce pain.


People with sedentary office jobs easily develop back problems as they often sit with a rounded back for hours on end. If you are a sedentary worker, you may go through the following stages of gradually increasing back problems unless you follow the postural and exercise advice given on GlobalSpine.

At first you may only experience discomfort in the low back while sitting for a prolonged period of time, or on arising from sitting. In this case overstretching of soft tissues causes the pain and it takes a few seconds for these tissues to recover. At a later stage you will find that on standing up you have more pain, and must walk stooped for a short distance before you can straighten up fully. Now it is likely that some distortion has occurred in one of the lumbar discs: prolonged sitting has led to minor distortion of the affected disc, which needs a few minutes to recover. Finally you may reach the stage when you experience acute pain on standing and are unable to straighten up at all. In this case there is major distortion in the affected disc, which cannot regain its normal shape quickly enough to allow pain-free movement. Whenever a movement is attempted, the disc bulge increases the strain on the already overstretched surrounding tissues and this causes severe pain in the low back. In addition the disc bulge may pinch the sciatic nerve, which may lead to radiculopathy.

To sit correctly you must:

  • Sit up with your back straight and your shoulders back. Your buttocks should touch the back of your chair.
  • All three normal back curves should be present while sitting. A lumbar roll can be used to help you maintain the normal curves in your back. If you do not use a back support or lumbar roll, you should:
    - Sit at the end of your chair and slouch completely.
    - Draw yourself up and accentuate the curve of your back as
    far as possible. Hold for a few seconds.
    - Release the position slightly (about 10 degrees). This is a good
    sitting posture.
  •  Distribute your body weight evenly on both hips.
  •  Bend your knees at a right angle. Keep your knees even with or slightly higher than your hips. (use a foot rest or stool if necessary). Your legs should not be crossed.
  •  Keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • Try to avoid sitting in the same position for more than 40 minutes.
  •  At work, adjust your chair height and workstation so you can sit up close to your work and tilt it up at you. Rest your elbows and arms on your chair or desk, keeping your shoulders relaxed.
  • When sitting in a chair that rolls and pivots, don’t twist at the waist while sitting. Instead, turn your whole body.
  • When standing up from the sitting position, move to the front of the seat of your chair. Stand up by straightening your legs. Avoid bending forward at your waist. Immediately stretch your back by doing 10 standing backbends

Next: Importance of Good Seating