We’ve all been told to ‘sit up straight’. But what is good sitting posture? Does slouching cause pain? Here, we take a look at the facts.
Good posture when sitting at your desk is considered a cornerstone of ergonomics. The message that bad posture causes back pain is so deeply ingrained that a huge industry of ‘posture correctors’ has developed. But our assumptions about a link between ‘poor posture’ and chronic pain are being eroded.
What is good posture?
Slouch away! It’s becoming more evident that ‘poor’ posture isn’t linked to long-term pain. Rather, it’s the length of time we stay in one posture when sitting, whether it’s good or bad, that’s likely to affect us. In the short-term, this can be due to over-exertion and decreased oxygenation of muscles while they hold us in one place. Over extended periods of time, our bodies’ actual structure will respond to the habitual strains we put on it. Ten percent of our skeleton is remodelled each year, and it will be rebuilt according to the demands we place on it. So if you slouch for ten hours a day over ten years, your body will gradually rebuild itself to better fit that position. And since our lives are increasingly sedentary, this is worth watching out for.
What should I do to protect against ‘posture pain’?
The main message is, keep moving. Move regularly – at least every half an hour. Take five minutes to run up the stairs or do a few lunges. Change where you sit or how you stand. If you desk-work, adapt with a height-adjustable desk (or a pile of books!) so you can keep shifting. Swap from sofa to floor and back in the evening while you watch your favourite show.
Chronic pain is more closely aligned with weakness, lack of mobility and poor proprioception. Regular activity can protect you. Try a three-times-per-week programme of strength and flexibility. It will be a better investment in your future health than a plastic posture corrector.
Get advice from your therapist
If you have any further queries, please contact the team at Woodside Clinic on 01582 608400 or 01525 372447.