Updated: Jul 20, 2021
Written by Adele Ang
Many patients have been told that they need to sit with ‘a neutral spine’ with perfect posture to not experience back or neck pain. Unfortunately this advice is often taking to extremes which can result in more persistent pain. It is not uncommon to see people with persistent back pain who sits with their spine rod straight at all times. The high muscle tension these individuals generate whilst seated usually results in them feeling even more back pain and stiffness. More often than not, it is important to reduce protective bracing and guarding of muscles to reduce back pain and unfortunately by advocating a neutral spine with sitting at all times, typically increases back pain over time. The advice to sit with a better posture only provides temporary relief but results in permanent back pain and stiffness. How then shall a person sit to not have back pain? Ideally relaxed, with a variety of postures, and of course, standing up and moving often. I had a patient once told me that the solution is to drink lots of water so that you have to make a trip to the toilet. A standing desk could also help and they are much more affordable these days. Hence the best sitting posture, is the next one, which is different from the previous one. So if you tend to cross your right leg over left all the time, change it around, or if you find yourself leaning to your right constantly due to shifting your mouse, change it over to your left hand. If you are not sure how you sit most of the time, get a colleague to do sneak photo shots of you at work without you knowing. You may be surprised how slouched or extremely tensed and erect you sit most of the time. Just remember variety is the spice of life. Keep changing and moving, and your neck and back will thank you for it.
This article is first published in BodyMAP.
About the author
Adele Ang is a registered physiotherapist, a pain coach and the founder of Bodymap Pte Ltd. She created the Bodymap Pain-Coaching Systems (BPS) which combines physiotherapy with pain coaching to provide a complete and holistic approach to help people with persistent, ongoing pain.