Sitting Sucks - FIT Human Performance

Sitting Sucks


July 26, 2015 –Sitting

As I sit here at my computer to write this I find myself getting lazy; head falls forward and low, shoulders rounding out, legs falling outward and feet not flat on the floor. A review of this posture:

  1. Forward head: skull rolls forward and down placing stress on the cervical vertebra or lordotic curvature of the neck, creating an impingement and eventual neck pain.
  2. Shoulders rounding: gravity and a round rib cage make it easy and comfortable to allow the shoulder girdles to protract (slump forward.) Thus, the abdominal wall bulges out, thoracic spine rounds, and direct pressure is placed on the lordotic curvature of the lumbar (low back) spine creating an impingement and eventual low back pain.
  3. Legs falling outward: as the torso begins to collapse the direct pressure and possible tissue impingement (belly fat squishing against the legs), it becomes much more comfortable to slightly separate the legs and again increase the forward lean. Yikes!

Not completely a lazy action when we learn that the longest muscle in your body called the Sartorius, which originates in the low back and travels all the way to the medial or inside of the knees. If the Sartorius is “tight” this is actually drawing the femur or legs outward and away from proper posture … not your fault.

  1. Feet not flat on the floor: if they supinate or turn out then again this increases forward leaning and that horrible posture. If they turn inward, the adductors (muscles of the inner thigh) are getting shorter creating an impingement and eventual knee pain.

Keeping good posture with the right body mechanics while sitting may depend on what kind of back support you have with the chair and or desk you are using. When you are sitting without any support for your back you should sit up straight with your torso balanced over your hips. The height of your seat should allow your upper legs to rest parallel to the ground or slope slightly towards the floor at your knees. You never want your knees higher than your hips.

A comfortable range for your leg to torso angle is 90-105 degrees. This keeps everything open so blood and fluid flows freely. Placement of the feet should be whatever is most comfortable and positions should change periodically. If you are leaning back slightly or have a short back rest then your feet should be flat on the floor in front of you. If you are leaning forward then you can tuck them in underneath the seat. Using an angled footrest can be beneficial if you are more reclined or have short legs.

If you have a short back support (one that does not support your shoulder blades) then a slight reclined position may be possible for short periods. Short backrests are more helpful in keeping you sitting upright than they are leaning against. They do prove themselves beneficial when stretching your back however.

If you have a full backrest (one that extends beyond your shoulder blades) then you can recline with good support and good posture. When reclining, even if it is just a little bit, your hips need to move forward and your lower legs should open up at the knees so your feet are more forward.

Working at a computer or typing is best supported with a slightly reclined sitting posture with the back at about 105-120 degrees from the floor. A full backrest on the chair supporting your lumbar and shoulder blades is needed as well as a setup where your hands, elbows and shoulders are not raised excessively and your head is at a comfortable angle.

After all of these things are taken care of, and you are simply conscious of the behavior of proper sitting … sit up straight, look directly forward, feet flat on the floor and stabilize your core (suck it in!) … go ahead, try it! Proper posture feels better now doesn’t it? And don’t forget to stretch and keep a glass of water on your desk too.

In good health,


I’ve only got one wrinkle, and I’m sitting on it.” – Jeanne Calment