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The Best Office Sitting Posture for a Pain-Free Day

Are you using the best sitting posture when you are at your office?

When you sit upwards of eight hours a day, it’s hard to sit right!

Why does this matter?

A correct sitting posture helps you avoid pain, especially when you sit at a computer for long hours each workday.

We know that too much sitting is bad for your health, increasing your risk for heart disease and diabetes, but an incorrect sitting posture can also be harmful, leading to back pain and a strained neck. The bottom line is that there is a best sitting posture for long hours at the computer. Here’s what you need to know:

Your sitting posture assessment

Give me your best 2 p.m. slouch. You know what I’m talking about. You’ve been at your computer for hours, and so your shoulders are starting to slump. Your back is curved outward, and your head weighs heavy on your neck. Your feet are no longer flat on the floor and your arms aren’t at a healthy 90-degree angle. You’re starting to plot a trip to the coffee machine for a midday  pick-me-up just to stay awake.

improve posture for back painimprove posture for back pain

Here’s the deal: This sitting posture puts pressure on the discs in your spine and forces the muscles in your chest to tighten. It makes your upper back curve and causes muscle tension and stiffness. Incorrect sitting posture can worsen lower back pain caused by a herniated disc and lead to pinched nerves. In short: Bad sitting posture can cause back pain.

How to improve your sitting posture

I can’t emphasize this enough:
If you sit a lot, you need to find the best sitting posture to avoid or reduce back pain.

Here’s how:

  1. Feet on the floor, feel grounded down through your feet to help get long through the spine. This first step is essential to give good posture. If your feet don’t hit the floor, put your feet on something like a footstool.
  2. Sit up in your chair with your back straight and your shoulders down and wide. Not unnaturally back, like someone’s holding you back while you try to run forward. That increases tension, which leads to pain. Think stacked as in ears over shoulders over hips, and make sure your shoulders are relaxed.
  3. Your butt should touch the back of your chair.
  4. Keep your spine lengthened through the back of your neck and your chin soft.
  5. Distribute your body weight evenly across your hips so that you are resting on your “sit bones,” the two ischial tuberosity bones located in your tush.
  6. Bend your knees, but don’t cross them, keeping your feet flat on the floor with you’re a 90 degree angle between your legs and your knees pointed towards your third toe. Your knees should be slightly lower than your hips, so tilt your seat accordingly.
  7. Your forearms, wrists, and hands should be nearly parallel to the floor.
  8. Keep your elbows close to the body and bent about 90 degrees. The closer everything is towards your center of gravity, the less strain on your neck and shoulders.
  9. Position your computer screen so that your eyes are level with where you’re looking. This is important, because if you tilt your head just two inches forward, it adds weight to the head and therefore, strain on your neck. In fact, your head weighs 12 pounds, but when you bend forward just two inches, it can feel like 32 pounds. (Ahem, texters? Pay attention.)
  10. Pick a good ergonomic chair with proper lumbar support and the right seat width and depth for your body. If it tilts too far one way or the other, you can add strain to the body, so be sure to have an ergonomic assessment to find the best chair for your body.
  11. Remember to breathe! Down into the  belly, wide into the waistline, and into the low back for the best core and spinal stability and a calm clear mind.

What not to do for good sitting posture

That’s not all. While there are plenty of tips to sit well, keep in mind these “don’ts” of sitting posture:

Don’t lean forward toward your computer. That puts pressure on your lower back.

Don’t lean backwards. That can cause you to slump, putting pressure and strain on your back. To find the sweet spot between too far forward or backward, rock back and forth and then land in the middle and stay there.

Don’t overarch your back.

Don’t twist at the waist in your pivoting office chair. Turn your whole body.

Don’t forget to slide to the front of your chair before you stand up.

Don’t sit more than 30 minutes. Get up, move around, stretch, and breathe!

Don’t slump. If you find yourself sinking into a slump, use a lumbar roll between your lower back and the chair for support.

Don’t forget to breathe. Good belly breathing can help you avoid aches and pains.

A good chiropractor can improve your posture. At the Urban Wellness Clinic, we use the Active Release Technique® to treat muscle tension or pain caused by incorrect sitting posture. We use progressively deepening stretches to break up adhesions, stretch scar tissue, and revitalize circulation and movement.

We also perform ergonomic assessments and workshops for the best sitting posture in the office. We visit companies for Ergonomic Lunch and Learns to talk about the benefits of good posture and the consequences of bad posture.   

We can teach you good belly breathing techniques through Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS) breathing exercises that help reset bad breathing patterns. DNS breathing is diaphragmatic breathing that involves expanding your ribcage and into the abdomen, like we did as babies. Shallow breathing, on the  other hand, causes you to overuse your chest and shoulders, causing tightness and pain, including headaches. That’s why breathing is an important part of your optimal sitting position.

Here’s the deal: We can assess ergonomics in your office, teach good posture techniques, and perform chiropractic techniques to ease pain. If you are concerned about your sitting posture, contact us today. Call us at 212-355-0445 or email us at We’re here for you!