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Sitting Posture and Back Pain

Man in office with back pain

While sitting is unlikely to be the root cause of low back pain, it can aggravate your symptoms if you’re already experiencing discomfort. If you find that your back is aching after spending a few hours at your desk, there are two things to consider-the way that you sit and how much time you spend sitting without a break.

How to Maintain Good Sitting Posture

  • Keep your keyboard close to your body. If you have to reach too far for the keyboard, it will force your body into a slouch. That places additional tension on your spine.
  • Have your feet supported on the floor or on a footrest. This will relieve pressure in the nerves on your legs and back.
  • Sit all the way back with your spine supported by the chair. When your back muscles are supported by the chair they are able to relax.

When to Take a Break

  • Try standing up at least once every hour. Those of us who work in an office environment spend 65-75% of the time sitting. Standing up and walking around your floor can be a great way to release pressure from your back.
  • Better yet, take 5-minute breaks every hour to get up and move around. A recent study showed that taking 5-minute breaks every hour and participating in moderate intensity activities such as brisk walks, can improve your mood, boost your energy and has no negative impact on work performance.

If you make these adjustments and you find that your symptoms continue, consult a physical therapist who can work with you to identify and address any underlying issues. Getting an ergonomic assessment with a qualified professional can also help you find the best, most comfortable workstation layout for your needs.

Hector Lozada, physical therapist

Héctor Lozada is the clinical supervisor at the HSS Onsite Physical Therapyand provides backstage physical therapy to performers of various Broadway musicals. He received a Bachelor degree from the University of Puerto Rico and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Boston University. He completed an orthopedic residency program at HSS and is a board-certified specialist in orthopedic physical therapy. Hector has practiced in New York City for the last 18 years.

The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.