PATIENT EDUCATION:  Sitting Posture #2

The vast majority of our patients sit at desks for their 8-10 hour workday. They tend to present with neck and upper back pain due their jobs. But why is this happening?

Sitting posture can have a significant impact on the body as a whole. Often, it is a hip restriction that prevents proper sitting posture. In the image below, the postural compensations (kyphosis, forward head posturing) are a result of the hip being unable to reach 90 degrees of flexion. This is required in order to keep the spine in neutral.

However, many people develop poor sitting posture during their teen years by slumping or lounging in chairs where their hips never reach 90 degrees or above. Others develop hip hypo mobility due to poor furniture design: most chairs and couches are too deep where the back is not supported in an upright position so the person ends up leaning backwards (hip < 90 degrees flexion) in order to have their spine supported.

Physiologically, several pathologies may be contributing to this long term dysfunction. The person may develop posterior soft tissue shortening: gluteus maximus and hamstrings primarily. S/he may also develop contractors of the joint capsule that will prevent the hip from moving to 90+ degrees. Skilled therapy services are required to identify which, if not both, of the conditions are affecting overall posture and the symptoms associated with it.