There is a relatively high probability that, when you are at work, you are predominantly sitting down: of 41.5 million people employed in Germany, more than half spend their working day mainly in front of a screen. People spend up to 11 hours per day sitting down . All the more important to adopt the correct posture, don’t you think? What exactly this entails and what the best posture is for your back will be revealed in this fascinating article.
Sit up straight!
How many times have we heard that phrase already? As a child. As a teenager. And finally, as an adult. Sitting up straight is the ne plus ultra for your back, isn’t it? Of course it is – if you sit up straight, you’re safeguarding yourself against all manner of back pain. Every child knows that…don’t they? Again and again, it is astounding how long it takes to drum persistent myths out of people’s heads.
So just to be clear once and for all: there isn’t just ONE correct posture. Full stop .
Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is misinformed. This is because countless studies have now been able to prove that ANY sitting position you assume for too long without interruption has the potential to trigger pain and discomfort. By implication then, every sitting position is healthy and safe for your back, as long as you don’t stay in it for too long [2,3,4,5,]. Why is that the case?
The right posture maintains your PH value
Everywhere in your body there are smalls sensors in your tissue. Including in your back. Theses sensors check whether everything is OK so far and, if there are changes in your tissue, they can send messages to your brain. A certain type of these sensors reacts to chemical changes in your tissue. For example, a change in your PH level .
You may know about this value from your skin. If the PH value of your skin is right, then it offers a splendid barrier against external invaders. However, the PH value isn’t just important for your skin, but also for all types of tissue in your body. It also plays a role in the fasciae and muscles in your back .
If you stay in the same position for a long time, no matter whether it’s lounging on the sofa or sitting in front of the PC at work, fluid is pressed out of the tissue in your back. This lowers your PH value. That means the tissue in your back becomes acidic . This small change can cause your sensors to send danger signals to your brain: If your brain grades these signals as dangerous, it can give the command for back pain .
Fidgeting helps against back pain
It isn’t just one definitive correct posture that will prevent your back from getting into a state, but rather the constant shifting between all different postures imaginable. From lounging around, a relaxed lean, strolling around, standing, lying down through to exemplary sitting up straight. Anything goes. Everything is healthyfor your back. The more variety the better. Just think back to your childhood .
Fidgeting (which is often criticised) is socially acceptable again, is considered to be exemplary behaviour for your everyday working life, and prevents your back from getting into a state .
Your next posture is the right posture
Even great writers and thinkers like Einstein and Goethe already knew that “comfortable furniture hinders mental ability.” These two were known to use standing desks to jot their genius ideas down on paper. However, the following also applies when standing for a long time: stay active and change your position. Just like with a desk chair, you should get away from and go back to your standing desk time and time again. To achieve this, stick to the following formula during your work day :
50% sitting, 25% moving, 25% standing, and shift positions slightly at least every 20 minutes.
The “right posture” for everyday life at the office
Changing positions, active breaks and plenty of movement. That is all well and good, but how are you to implement this concretely into your sitting-based and, most certainly, often stressful work day? To make things a bit easier for you, we have come up with 8 simple yet highly effective tips for how you can make your work day more active, and how to promote dynamic sitting. Because everything is always better when working together, you’d best grab your work colleagues and try out these tips as a team. Think of it as teamwork for your backs.
8 simple tips to get the best posture
Let’s get started! :
- Why not conduct your next team meetingstanding up or take a short walk with your boss whilst discussing your next action steps
- Put on your headphones and you’re all set to conduct your next phone conferencestanding up or whilst walking – and it works just as well
- Today, avoid using liftsand escalators all day
- Have you currently got a tricky problem to solve or have reached a critical point in your project? Why not stand upand continue mulling it over whilst on your feet
- Startand end your work day with movement (cycle or walk to work, get off the bus or underground one stop earlier, park your car further away etc.)
- If you have to use the toilet, use the one that is furthest away, perhaps even on different floor?
- During one day, try out all of the sitting positions that you can think of one after the other
- You forget, despite your high enthusiasm, that you should keep moving around? Here are a few ideas for how you can keep reminding yourself again and again:
- Write yourself small colourful notes(à la “fetch a glass of water”) and pin them clearly visible to your workstation
- Put objects in the office that will encourage you to move about more (e.g. a Pezzi Ball, small dumbbells or a fasciae roller)
- Buy our 8clip: It is adapted to your individual posture patternand, by emitting a gentle vibration on your neck, reminds you on a regular basis about that urgently required moving around. Work on your Office Fitness with the 8sense app and receive movement tasks tailored to you and specific corrective exercises (like the 8sense Upright-Challenge)
Important to note:
This article contains general recommendations only and must not be used for self-diagnosing or self-treatment. It is not a replacement for visiting your GP.
 Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft für Haltungs- und Bewegungsförderung e.V., Wiesbaden (2018): Gesundheitsrisiko Sitzen!? Zehn erstaunliche Fakten und was wir daraus lernen können. unter: https://www.agr-ev.de/de/gesundheitsrisiko-sitzen [aufgerufen am 14.08.2019].
 Slater, D., Korakakis, V., O’Sullivan, P., Nolan, D., & O’Sullivan, K. (2019). “Sit Up Straight”: Time to Re-evaluate. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 49(8), 562–564.
 Womersley L, May S. (2006): Sitting posture of subjects with postural backache. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. Mar-Apr;29(3):213-8.
 Sorensen CJ, Norton BJ, Callaghan JP, Hwang CT, Van Dillen LR (2015): Is lumbar lordosis related to low back pain development during prolonged standing?Man Ther. 2015 Aug;20(4):553-7.
 Zemp, Roland; Fliesser, Michael; Wippert, Pia-Maria; Taylor, William R.; Lorenzetti, Silvio (2016): Occupational sitting behaviour and its relationship with back pain – A pilot study. In: Applied ergonomics 56, S. 84–91.
 Moseley, G.; Butler, D. (2017): Explain pain supercharged. The clinician’s manual. Adelaide: Noigroup Publications.
 Yamato, T. P., Maher, C. G., Traeger, A. C., Wiliams, C. M., & Kamper, S. J. (2018). Do schoolbags cause back pain in children and adolescents? A systematic review. British Journal of Sports Medicine, bjsports–2017–098927.