Is the way you sit causing back pain?

By Robin Adams and the team at West Country Osteopaths. Originally published in CityPress magazine November 2011


There is plenty of advice on how to sit at your desk, with a consensus that it is best to keep your back straight, your screen at a suitable level to avoid neck pain, and your keyboard at a comfortable distance. The only issue which attracts debate is the position of your hips and knees.


The goal of a good sitting position is to achieve a neutral position of the spine. That is neither bent forwards nor backwards and affording a gentle lumbar curve (lordosis or lower back) and thoracic curve (kyphosis or upper back). This achieves the optimal position for joints and muscles to minimise fatigue. It also promotes good breathing and circulation, improving energy levels and encouraging better health. Good posture also promotes self confidence and a positive state of mind (more of that in another article)


For many years it was assumed that the ideal sitting position was with the hips at 90 degrees to the body. However, in the latter half of the 20th century, evidence has grown that a neutral sitting position is best achieved by lowering the knees beneath the hips, with the thighs sloping gently forwards and down. This allows the lumbar spine in the lower back to maintain a comfortable curve.


Any of the following seating solutions can be used to optimise your desk posture:


  • An office chair that allows the base to tilt forwards.

  • A saddle stool. These allow the legs to fall downwards into a riding position.

  • A kneeler stool. These also allow the legs to fall downwards, but put more pressure on the front of the knees which can be uncomfortable for some.


If you have got a tired back and shoulders you can take advantage of the West Country Integrated Health coupon below and get 40% off a restoring and revitalising massage.


If you have back pain that you think may be affected by the way you sit, the contact West Country Osteopaths on 01392 555111 for an appointment.