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Which sitting positions should I avoid? You could say that every sitting position is bad, but it's hard to agree with it completely. We can sit in many ways and each of them is different, so in this case we can talk about the lesser evil phenomenon. There are certain sitting techniques that do a great deal of harm to our body. Learn the tricks that slightly reduce the negative effects of sitting positions.

We can't avoid sitting, so it's important to know what to do to reduce the effects of a sedentary lifestyle. A 2012 study published by the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity shows that people spend an average of 64 hours per week sitting, 28 standing and only 11 walking / moving.

This gives you at least 9 hours of sitting each day, with an average of 5 hours 41 minutes sitting at a desk (source: British Psychological Society, 2012). This was research from five years ago, but what does the research say today? Among other things, there is no good sitting position. And what to do with it when at least half of our day passes while sitting?


  1. Sitting position - the latest he alth risk
  2. What exactly is the risk of continuous sitting?
  3. Sitting position - don't sit this way
  4. Sitting or standing position?
  5. Sitting position - move
  6. Sitting position - exercises behind the desk

Sitting position - the latest he alth risk

There is no good seated position, any seated position is bad! - the headlines of posts on the Internet, the inscriptions on memes and numerous scientific studies are shouting at us. There is more and more saying that sitting is bad and must be avoided, but on the other hand … we sit for at least 50% of the time a day!

We sit while eating a meal, driving a car, in the subway, reading a newspaper, talking over coffee with a friend, in college, at a desk at work, playing with a child … you could go on and on like that.

This is still a small problem compared to those who have a sedentary job - then such people sit 80-90% of the time a day! What does the research say? That sitting for too long increases the risk of death by up to 40%!

We often don't realize it, but assumingthat our day starts at seven in the morning, we get in the car and go to work for an hour, then spend at least 7 hours behind the desk, get in the car again and go home for an hour, and then eat a meal, talk at the table, go to watch TV on the couch and so on - it turns out we sit around 12 hours on average! And our day lasts 14 …

Today we sit more than we move, and our body is made to move - every ankle, every joint, muscle, ligament is designed to move, not to rest. Of course, rest is also important, but it aims to regenerate our body after being active. When there is not much of this activity, and we just sit or lie down, our body changes beyond recognition!

What exactly is the risk of continuous sitting?

First, our spine - the skeleton of the whole body and its most important part. When we are standing, the pressure on the vertebrae is 100%, when we sit straight on a chair - 140%, and when we sit hunched over, which is the most common, and especially when we are tired at the end of work - 200%!

In addition, our core muscles weaken and are unable to maintain optimal stability and load evenly when we stand or begin to move. Further changes include lower respiratory efficiency and unfavorable arrangement of internal organs - perpetually compressed and immobile diaphragm, pressure on the large intestine and pelvis, lack of space for the lungs and many others.

What's more, the sitting position can permanently tense and relax our muscles - and consequently weaken them because both too tense and too loose muscles can be immobile and weak.

When we sit down, the quadriceps muscles shorten and the gluteal muscles and biceps thighs lengthen. The rectus abdominis muscle shortens and weakens, because the sitting position does not require it to be tense, and our spine bears an unimaginable weight - especially its lower part, which in this position takes all the work on itself.

The shoulder blades move apart and the chest "dips" inward so that I can bend over the desk. It suffers from too much tension in the lumbar spine and our shoulders, which are in an uncomfortable position.

In addition, immobile knees, often still in the "leg to foot" or cross position, are just the beginning of building future injuries and neuralgia.

Long-term and frequent lack of exercise also causes complications and negative effects such as:

      • problems with the circulatory system and heart
      • high risk of musculoskeletal diseases and permanent posture defects
      • decreased activity of the central nervous system
      • weight gain; fat deposition, muscle slackening, cellulite formation
      • diabetes
      • pains, often radiating
      • contracture of the flexor muscles of the hip, knee and shoulder joints
      • poor work of internal organs that are not stimulated by the work of muscles
      • lower bone density

Scientists have found that sitting today is the same as smoking at the end of the 20th century! On the other hand, the lack of physical activity makes the frontal lobe of the brain responsible for sharpness, perceptiveness, emotions and remembering - the hippocampus - dies faster and is less efficient. So what to do? We advise you later in the article!

Sitting position - don't sit this way

First, eliminate negative habits! Avoid the following positions at the desk:

      1. Don't slouch. Humping deforms the entire position of your spine and exposes you to painful tensions and muscle strains.
      2. Do not sit far away from your desk. This position forces you to flex your thoracic spine and move your shoulder blades apart. This can lead to problems with the shoulder, cervical and thoracic vertebrae and result in headaches.
      3. Do not move your buttocks away from the backrest. This will destabilize the vertebrae in your spine, and all body pressure will go to your pelvis and lower vertebrae.
      4. Don't lean your elbows on the desk. You will stretch the paraspinal muscles too much and shorten the abdominal muscles, hip extensors and chest muscles. Don't shut up!
      5. Don't sit too long with your feet on your feet. This position restricts blood from reaching your thighs, causes varicose veins, and closes your hips.
      6. Avoid crossing your legs. This position causes uneven tension in the knee joints. The outer structures of the knee stretch and the inner structures shorten.
      7. Don't sit on one side for too long. This leads to constant curves, tensions, and uneven stretching of individual muscles. If you already like to sit on one side, shift this position to the other side and stay in it for the same amount of time. Still, you should avoid long-term curvatures.
      8. Do not bring your knees inward. Such a long-term position disturbs the functioning of the knee joint and in the future may increase the predisposition to its dislocations or injuries. Knees directed inwards stretch the inner part of the joint: ligaments, strings, tendons and the VMO muscle - that is, the head of the quadriceps muscle responsible for 50% of stabilization of our knee.

Sitting position or positionstanding?

It's best to alternate between this and the time! Research from 2015 showed that the productivity of employees who are seated is much weaker compared to those who change positions frequently. Researchers from the University of Syndey decided to check whether working shifts while standing and sitting will help increase employee productivity.

It turned out that the polls conducted among call center companies showed that the change of position is of enormous importance in the case of measured efficiency! The study showed that the productivity when working alternately standing and sitting increased by 38%!

In contrast, a team of researchers from the University of Texas, led by Gregory Garrett, conducted a similar study, providing employees with desks suitable for sitting and standing work. After a month, their productivity increased by 23% in relation to people who still worked only sitting. After another five months, this difference increased to 53%. Productivity shown was measured from successful calls per hour.

And how does standing work affect our body? Again, let's look at the percentage figures: when we stand, the pressure on our joints is 100%, and when sitting, depending on the position, two or three times more!

Scientists inform that standing in a neutral position puts less strain on the spine and hip joints, and this position alone forces the muscles to exercise more, activates the muscle pump that allows you to maintain proper blood circulation throughout the body. Moreover, when standing, we feel less fatigue and tiredness. Already 15 minutes of standing is enough to speed up metabolism and wake up the body within an hour.

What's more, when we stand, our nervous system gets a clear signal to be active. It increases the level of energy, we start to think better, we are more open and creative. Research by Public He alth of England reports that an office worker should spend a minimum of 2 hours standing or walking.

Interestingly, in Scandinavia, people started working standing up in the 90s. Today, all of Western Europe is moving away from sedentary work to work that is standing or one that allows you to move freely. Fortunately, in our country, corporations and smaller companies are starting to implement the trend from the West.

You can find adjustable desks for work more and more often, and many Polish manufacturers of office furniture introduce modern furniture for standing work. What's more, there are many gadgets on the market that increase the comfort of work, e.g. handles that raise the monitor with the keyboard or Stand Up - platforms with manual adjustment.

Itemsitting - move

Each of us knows what the theoretical sitting position looks like - the bottom should be brought to the end of the chair, shoulder blades tightened, ribs pointing down, elbows resting in line with our waist, knees slightly apart, slightly pointing to the sides recessed chin and torso slightly tilted back.

Only who of us sits like this all the time we work? In a few minutes our brain will take care of the thought processes that are more important to it and forget about the correct sitting position. However, the habit of sitting correctly can be developed just like any other habit!

Our brain is very economical - it doesn't burden itself with additional tasks if it doesn't have to. When we sit and have support for the back and elbows, the body reads it as an undemanding position and our muscles and joints simply stop working.

If we focus on sitting upright - we will hold this position for 5-10 minutes, because the cerebral cortex is about to start working on thought processes such as counting, reading, writing, etc. A good way to to prevent laziness, there is a timer set to beep every 15 minutes!

It may be difficult at first, but later we get used to it and changing the position to the correct position or simply - changing the position - will become our he althy habit.

Another great way is to move around your desk frequently or get up from your desk. For this, you can also set a timer every 30 minutes or every hour and do some simple exercises behind your desk.

An even better idea is to move from a sitting position to a standing position if you have an adjustable desk at work, or you can make a phone call while walking around the company or just standing.

The last idea is to just get up from your desk and go to the toilet, make a cup of coffee, go outside, whatever to wake your body up. The point is to just remind your nervous system every few or several dozen minutes that your body is moving, not just sitting. Then the whole body will benefit from it, not only the joints and muscles.

Sitting position - exercises behind the desk

Do your desk exercises every hour, but you can also do them more often - the more, the better!

      1. Drag. Cross your arms around the nape of your neck and point your elbows firmly outward. So hold on for 10 seconds and do a few repetitions
      2. Tilt and stretch once to one side once to the other. Rest on your elbow and stretch your arm firmly upwards. Repeat several times per page.
      3. Rock your pelvis sideways and back and forth.You can add your favorite music to it, thanks to which you will do this exercise for longer, and at the same time you will relax and cheer yourself up!
      4. Make the torso twists. Bring your hands together as in prayer and alternate your torso bows. Do a dozen or so repetitions.
      5. Tuck your buttocks. Squeeze your buttocks with all your strength, keep them in isometry for about 10 seconds and relax. Do 10 of these repetitions every 15 minutes.
      6. Squeeze the roller between your legs. If you don't have a roller, it could be a ball, thick book, or bag. Make 10 strong shorts.
      7. Raise your legs alternately. Straighten your legs at the knees and lift alternately one time and the other. Try not to rock your pelvis to the sides and keep your abdomen tense.
      8. Raise your knees up. When you lift one knee up, press the other leg firmly into the ground. Do a dozen or so repetitions.
      9. Tighten your stomach isometrically. Keep your abdomen tense for a minimum of 10 seconds.
      10. Pull your shoulder blades together. Bring your shoulder blades closer together and try to work in this position as long as possible.
      11. Tilt your head. Do it back and forth and up and down.
      12. Work with your hands. Clench your fingers and relax them - do 10 such repetitions.
About the authorMałgorzata Kośla She is a qualified fitness instructor and certified personal trainer. Since childhood, her greatest passion was sport - she played football and basketball. Then a new love came - dance, especially dancehall. He likes to sweat at the gym and relaxes in yoga and meditation sessions. He is constantly expanding his knowledge about training and a he althy lifestyle. What besides sports? He runs a store with natural cosmetics and he althy food, writes his own blog ( and deals with copywriting.

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