Sitting Comfortably

Is There Any Way to Make Seated Work Less Demanding on the Back?
One of the top Spine Biomechanist in the world stated this in his book, “Low Back Disorders,” that sitting is not the best thing to do for your lower back. McGill documented sources showing the increased risk of disc herniation in those who perform sedentary jobs characterized by sitting.
“Prolonged sitting is problematic for the back. Unfortunately, this fact seems to be rather unknown in the occupational world. Those recovering from back injuries who return to modified work are often given “light duties” that involve prolonged sitting. While such duties are perceived as being easy on the back, they can be far from it… This is the result of a misunderstanding of sitting mechanics.” “Strategies to Reduce Back Troubles During Prolonged Sitting

We have developed a three point approach for reducing back troubles associated with prolonged sitting:

  1. Use an ergonomic chair, but use it properly (very few actually do). Many people think that they should adjust their chair to create the ideal sitting posture. Typically, they adjust the chair so that the hips and knees are bent to 90° and the torso upright… This may be the ideal posture but for no longer than 10 minutes! Tissue loads must be migrated from tissue to tissue to minimize the risk of any single tissue accumulating microtrauma. This is accomplished by changing posture. Thus an ergonomic chair is one that facilitates easy posture changes over a variety of joint angles. Many workers continue to believe that there is a single best posture for sitting and are reluctant to try others. This is, of course, unfortunate, as the ideal sitting posture is a variable one. Many employees need to be educated as to how to change their chairs and to the variety of postures that are possible.
  2. Get out of the chair. A rest break must consist of the opposite activity to reduce the imposed stressors. The recommended break that we have developed involves standing from the chair and maintaining a relaxed standing posture for 10 to 20 seconds.  The person then raises the arms over the head and then pushes the hands upward toward the ceiling. By inhaling deeply, one will find that the low back is fully extended. In this way, the person has taken his back through gentle and progressive lumbar extension.
  3. Perform an exercise routine at some time in the workday. Midday would be ideal but first thing in the morning is unwise. A general back routine correcting weaknesses would have significant effects to improving lower back issues. Consult a competent fitness professional to determine the most appropriate regimen for your specific back issues.