Is sitting posture important and how to improve it for a healthy back?

Megan Smith
 min read

Is sitting posture important? How many times have you been admonished as a child to sit up straight?

Is sitting posture important and how to improve it for a healthy back?Most seats are poorly designed and unsuitable for the average person. The backrests are generally tilted backward, not allowing you to lean back without being slouched and cramped.

The seats are fixed and of a fixed height, but not all users are the same size.

As a whole, bad sitting posture is encouraged through inadequate seating. By sitting down properly and encouraging back health, our breathing, bones and muscle will benefit from the only thing that is a given in today’s world: sitting down.

Read on to learn how we can get rid of our back aches and pains without sacrificing comfort with just a little bit of awareness and a dash of knowledge.

Is sitting posture important? Introduction

Most chairs are unsuitable for an average person. As a result, small and medium-sized children have difficulty reaching the ground with their toes and cannot find a comfortable position.

Leaning backward, they don’t have proper back support, leaning forward, their backs are arched!

The taller children are too tall for the tables and desks and have to bend forward to write or eat.

Look at the children who keep fidgeting in the adult chairs because their backs are not supported. They are like an adult sitting with their legs dangling over the edge of a table.

Try it and you’ll quickly understand that you can’t support your back properly and blood is pooling in your lower legs. It is very uncomfortable.

Teenagers, who are getting bigger and bigger, are often completely collapsed in their seats, with a complete relaxation of the back muscles.

They often complain about their backs, even though they are young, well-nourished, not “deficient”, and do not perform any particularly manual labor, and can even considered to be athletic.

It’s a bit of a shame and we often wonder what the future will bring if they already have back problems at this young age.

A slouching posture is harmful to the human body

In fact, our deep sofas do not help either even though we may consider them comfortable.

We have the same posture as the oldest patients in nursing homes who slip in their chairs to the point that they are sometimes forced to tie them to the back with a sheet!

But in this slouched position nothing can work:

  • The back is compressed, the intervertebral discs compressed, the muscles relaxed, the circulation diminished. There is therefore an increase in vertebral compression.
  • The circulation is bad, all the blood is in the lower legs, the diaphragm does not pump to bring the blood up.
  • Digestion is poor because the stomach and intestines are cramped. The stool does not move in the belly, there is no massage, no circulation, the abdominals are distended. There is an increased risk of constipation.
  • Breathing is limited to a small up and down movement of the top of the sternum.

In short, slouching is really bad for your back!

Attempts to compensate

Observe attempts to compensate.

Women tend to cross their legs. Unconsciously they restore an angle of less than 90 degrees between the upper thigh and the spine, which allows them to straighten without arching.  But if you want to straighten up, it is much less tiring for your back.

If the meeting is informal, men are often leaning forward, elbows on knees, which is not a bend but a stretch. It is a good position for the back but it is closer to a four-legged position than a sitting position!

A good sitting posture

The back should be stretched without tension allowing for free abdominal breathing.

This is what the Egyptian-style seat achieves, a straight back, a seat not too deep so that your back can be supported without having your calves pinched at the front of the seat, thighs at 90 degrees to the trunk.

No chair in our house fits this posture, let alone sofas, except for the adaptable wooden chairs with adjustable legs.

In the old days, schoolchildren had desks and benches, which meant they had to be forward but not arch their backs on their tables.

How do I ensure a good sitting posture?

Ideally you would sit in a slight forward leaning position and if you’re tall enough, put your elbows on the table.

If you are too short for the chair, place a small bench or some phone books under your feet, bring your upper body forward, and forget about the backrests.

If you are weak, elderly, or a nursing mother, place a cushion between your upper back and the backrest (and not in your lower back).

Place another cushion on your knees to support your chest, or just a high enough cushion on your knees and lean on the cushion just under your chest. Like this, you are carried forward, not backward, without effort to hold yourself up, but without collapsing backward.

While in such a position. take note of your breathing, and you will also understand if you are stretching or not.  Remember how good it feels maintaining a well stretched position the next time around.

Tip: Check our top plus size furniture guide for comfortable and ergonomic chairs.

How to stretch at the office

If you feel tension in your upper back, move your chair back and rest your forearms on the table. Place your forehead on your hands, make your back as hollow as possible by trying to bring your spine as close to your belly button as you can.

It is impossible to arch in this position, since the angle between your thigh and your spine is less than 90 degrees.

The pelvis must be pulled backward and the back must not be arched or rounded.

Breathe for a few minutes in this position.

You can then do the opposite and aim to round or arch your back as much as you can, as opposed to the hollow back stretch as described above.

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Upper back, neck and shoulders

The upper back is the usually the place where you feel tension the most.

An incorrect posture often results in unnecessary hunching forward.

Read on for some quick and easy exercises to increase flexibility in your upper back, which at the same time will help tone your back muscles. This is often overlooked, yet is critical as these are the muscles constantly fighting gravity to allow us keep straight.

Upper back stretching

Round back (for relaxation)

Leaning forward, hands on knees, fingers toward the body, slightly round the lower back and push yourself up toward the ceiling, neck relaxed, elbows forward.

Hollow back

This one is to fight against dorsal kyphosis, more commonly known as a hunchback. Without arching, always press your legs on the seat, place your hands behind your buttocks and straighten up by arching the top of your back but without letting the bottom arch.

Fight against a strained back

Flat back

Sitting at the edge of the seat, push the ischia (pelvic bones on which we sit) into the seat, and at the same time, push the top of the head towards the ceiling.

It helps to imagine your head is being pulled up by a string on top of your head, resulting in a very upright and well-aligned posture.

Do both simultaneously and push the two ends as far apart as possible without relaxing or arching.

You should feel the back stiffen, become solid, and feel your lower abdominals harden. You extend your upper body as much as possible.

Is sitting posture important: Conclusion

Sitting posture is often ignored, and yet with most of us sitting down all day, it is probably one of the postures we should pay the most attention to.

The way we sit affects our breathing, spine, muscles and that is reason enough to be careful to sit properly.

Related post: How to fix a sedentary lifestyle and reasons to fight this disease

About Megan Smith

Megan has been fighting overweight and her plus size since her teenage years. After trying all types of remedies without success, she started doing her own research. Megan founded PlusSizeZeal.com to share her findings. She also developed various detailed buying guides for plus-size people in order to make their lives easier and more comfortable. Read More