sitting posture

How good is your sitting posture?

Postural advice given by Physiotherapists is one of the most common strategies used in combatting back pain. More of us than ever spend large parts of our working days sat at desks in front of computers, driving cars to get us to our computers or even worse, going home after work to watch TV or sit on ipads all night as well.

My patients are definitely more aware of this problem so the information is clearly getting out there. This is in no small part due to the work of occupational health departments (those guys that come out to do your workplace assessments or car assessments). Unfortunately what normally greets me is a glassy eyed look and occasionally a groan of despair. ‘I’ve been through this stuff’ they tell me. ‘You don’t need to go through this again’!

Well even if they have been through it and they actually listened and did what they were told, it still begs the question: ‘how do we know what the best posture is’?

Recent research done at the University of Limerick, asked a number of Physiotherapists in four different countries (Ireland, England, Germany and the Netherlands) which one of nine sitting postures (ranging from completely slouched to sitting bolt upright) they considered to be the best sitting posture.

Of comfort was that 85% of Physiotherapists picked one of two postures. Perhaps more interesting however  was that those postures were quite different! One of the biggest influences on posture chosen was the Physiotherapist’s country of practice. A neutral sitting posture was considered better in England and Ireland, whilst Physiotherapists in Germany preferred the more upright sitting posture. Quite why these differences between nations should be there is unknown.

So things aren’t as clear cut as one would maybe think!

In conclusion I would echo the authors thoughts that if you can sit somewhere in mid range (not fully upright or slouched), where your muscles aren’t working like crazy, you can reach everything you need to reach without stretching too far and you don’t sit still for too long, then you’re somewhere near a good posture.

If you or anyone you know is either suffering from low back pain or would like a postural assessment, please contact us to have a physiotherapy assessment, contact us here.

O’Sullivan et al, What do Physiotherapists consider to be the best sitting spinal posture? Manual Therapy, 2012, 17, 5.