Are you sitting right or ruining your back?

The correct sitting posture to avoid back pain is simple enough to adopt –we list how to correct your posture to aid your back.

As a frequent sufferer of back pain, you’ve probably gone to several doctors without any appreciable effect. The fault may not necessarily be with the treatment plan, it could be with the way you sit!

Here’s a guide to the correct sitting posture:

* Get the right chair. The biggest culprit that causes back pain is the chair you sit in. Most chairs do not support the spine adequately, thus causing misalignment. The chair must be ergonomically designed to support the spine completely, moulding itself to the contours of the back. Place a cushion to support the lower back – this is the portion of the back that is in least contact with the chair.

* Ease yourself into the chair when you sit. Most people tend to thrust themselves into the chair instead of easing into it gently. The correct sitting posture is to hold the armrests of the chair, keep the buttocks slightly pushed out and ease yourself into the chair with your arms carrying most your upper body weight.

* Keep your back straight, but not tense. Once you sit in your chair, don’t relax into it such that your shoulders slump forward and your spine curves. So how to correct your posture when you’re sitting? Keep your back straight but not tense – keep the shoulders pulled back but not in a strict, ramrod way. Keep a large cushion that covers the lower and mid-back so that there is adequate support even if you slump after a while. Every half an hour, get up from the chair and walk around slowly with your shoulders pulled back.

* Keep your feet straight on the ground instead of crossing your legs. You are always tempted to sit back in your chair, only the upper back and shoulders resting on the backrest, and your legs crossed at the knees. It is certainly a comfortable position – but it is murder on your back! Correct your sitting posture ASAP – rest your back as much as you can against the backrest, and keep your feet on the ground. Keep your arms on the armrests as much as you can when you are not working.

* Do gentle stretches to stop the muscles and spine from freezing. You know the tingly feeling that creeps up your back muscles and spine when you’ve sat in one position for long. It slowly translates into pain which can make it difficult to even get out of your chair. Every few minutes, lock your hands together and stretch your arms straight up over your head. This releases tension from your shoulders and upper back. Or place your hands on your shoulders, elbows out, and swivel your upper body from left to right slowly. Stretching improves blood circulation and keeps the muscles from atrophying.