When you hear the phrase “bad sitting posture”, what image comes to mind? If you visualize a person hunched over their keyboard or slouched way down in their chair, then you’d be correct. However, bad sitting posture doesn’t just mean obvious things like slouching.
While all of us sit, very few of us actually have good posture when doing so. Especially for desk workers who sit for long stretches of time, sustained bad posture from common sitting positions can result in health problems like lower back pain and tension headaches. Proper equipment such as an ergonomic office chair and workstation can definitely help, however, fixing bad sitting habits and developing good posture is important as well.
Here are some common problematic sitting positions and how to address them.
Hunching or Slouching
There are many reasons why people hunch or slouch, however, it is often seen when individuals are working at a desk. While sitting in a hunched, round-shoulder manner is habit for some, if your computer monitor, keyboard, or office chair is situated too high or too low, it encourages you to push your head forward and scrunch up your shoulders and arms. Slouching also compresses your spine and exacerbates back pain.
Be more aware of your posture as you work, such as setting up a reminder to keep your shoulders down and back. To encourage yourself to sit upright and avoid hunching over, place a towel roll or lumbar cushion at your lower back.
Crossing Your Legs at the Knee
While this position is ok for short periods of time, it can be problematic if done for too long. Most people will uncross and recross their legs naturally, but a busy desk worker often gets stuck with one leg essentially pinning the other down. After an extended period of time, this can cause not only your leg to painfully “fall asleep”, but the unbalanced position of your hip can strain your pelvic muscles and put pressure on the sciatic nerve that runs through your leg.
Try to break the habit by sitting with your legs uncrossed and doing stretches that help keep those hip muscles from tightening up. Train yourself to sit with both feet flat on the ground (or on a foot rest), since it keeps your posture more balanced.
Sitting With One Leg Tucked or Up
Whether you like placing one leg under your body or pulling it up against your chest, both of these positions are not ideal for hours on end. With one leg tucked up and one leg down, your hip is rotated in an unnatural position. This can inflame the sacroiliac joints in your pelvic region, cause lower back pain, and shorten the hip flexors, which makes you more susceptible in the future to losing your balance and falling.
Avoid sitting this way by keeping your legs down and focusing on a neutral position, where your body and spine are aligned in a natural lumbar curve. Do exercises to strengthen your hip muscles and stability.