Between the hunched back, raised shoulders, and craned neck, sitting at a computer can promote some seriously poor posture. The spine (in humans, at least) has three curves: the inward curve of neck (cervical curve), the outward curve of the upper back (thoracic curve), and the inward curve of the lower back (lumbar curve). Prolonged sitting can cause the lower spine to collapse like an accordion, causing the vertebrae to unnaturally press togetherMove to improve your health: the research behind static postures. Valachi, B. Dentistry Today. 2011 May;30(5):144-147.. Whereas ideal posture usually keeps the curves of the spine aligned and the back muscles strong, prolonged, slouched sitting over a desk can put extra pressure on the spinal discs and cause chronic painSedentary lifestyle as a risk factor for low back pain: a systemic review. Chen, SM., Lie MF., et al. School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Australia. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health. 2009 Jul;82(7):797-806.Evidence of health risks from occupational sitting: where do we stand? Marshall, S. and Gyi, D. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2010 Oct; 30(4):389-391..
So what’s a better way to sit? Keep the shoulders down and back, chest high, feet flat, and crown of the head reaching upward. Those three normal back curves should be naturally present when correctly seated. To help keep the lower back’s natural curve, try using a rolled towel or pillow for extra support.