Do You Experience Back Pain While Sitting at Your Desk?

Members of today’s workforce sit for most or all of the day while at their job. It doesn’t matter if you’re a government contractor in McPherson Square, a lawyer on K Street, or federal employee in Downtown DC, chances are you spend most of your day in a seated position.

With all this time spent in a seated position, proper work station ergonomics can make the difference between being comfortable and experiencing headache, neck pain and lower back pain throughout the day.

Over the next few weeks we will be looking at improving your posture and workstation ergonomics.

Here are some suggestions for improving your seated posture.

What Positions Does Good Seated Posture Involve?

Good workstation ergonomics begins with proper seated posture. The goal is to maintain a neutral spine position while seated.

Foot Position

To begin, make sure you have both feet squarely on the floor. If you are under five feet, five inches tall (5’5”), you may need to place a box or stool under your feet to achieve this position. If you sit with just the tips of your toes on the floor or are able to “swing your feet” your low back will experience increased muscle tension which could lead to a muscle strain.

Low Back Position

Your low back should be supported by a pillow tucked in the small of your back which is just above the belt line. This support will allow the low back to avoid falling into a bent or “slouched” position. By placing the pillow behind you it will allow your pelvis to tilt forward and keep your low back in a neutral position.

Shoulder Position

Now that you have your feet squarely on the floor or box and a pillow behind your low back you should notice that your shoulders have naturally begun to relax and retract. Your shoulders should be pulled back and down. Think of it as trying to pinch your shoulder blades together or trying to put your shoulder blades in your back pockets. Your shoulders should not be rounded forward towards your computer.

Head Position

With your feet secured, low back supported, and your shoulders back and down it’s time to make sure your head is where it needs to be. The ideal position for your head is to have the center of your ears above your shoulders with your chin pointing downwards and not forwards towards your computer. The majority of people slouch at their desk and when you slouch your head position becomes problematic. The slouched position leaves your head and chin jutting forward and this puts maximal strain on your neck muscles.

These improvements to your seated posture may not be easy at first. Most individuals sit with a slouched posture and have for years. However, being aware of small improvements can have big effects.

Next week we will look at evaluating how your desk is set up.

As always, please feel free to email me at with any questions or topics you would like to see discussed in this space, give me a call at 202-733-5604, or schedule an appointment to come meet with me in person and discuss a personalized treatment plan.

Talk to you soon.

Dr. Rosenberg

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