Relax! Why sitting up straight is not good for your wellbeing


Health and safety officers have long peddled sitting up straight – with your wrists, elbows, hips and knees at 90-degree angles – as the optimal way to avoid overuse and other strain related injuries.

First Move Office is a new injury-prevention programme debunking this postural myth. It empowers employees to take control of their workplace wellbeing and avoid the aches and pains that come with sedentary work.

Founder of Provention and qualified Physiotherapist, Alison Richmond, says, “I have never been an advocate of sitting up straight at a desk. Our bodies aren’t designed to sit upright in chairs and type all day. We need to move frequently and use different postures throughout the day in order to function optimally.

“The straight, upright posture is our natural - therefore comfortable posture when we stand upright. For some reason we’re told that we need to maintain the same posture when we’re seated at our desks for prolonged periods of time. However, the natural curve of the spine changes when we’re in a seated posture. So the upright posture that was comfortable while standing creates tension if maintained when seated.

“I recently worked with an Occupational Therapist who was continually advocating the sit up straight posture with wrists and elbows at 90 degrees.  However, she was actually experiencing ongoing pain from working at the computer and recognised she could not maintain this so called ‘good posture’.  Some simple changes to a more natural posture alleviated her pain. This is because sitting is a passive posture. The muscles need to be relaxed and supported by the back rest of the chair, not forcibly held upright.  Of course there is nothing wrong with perching on a chair with no back support for short periods but if it’s for an extended time we need support so the muscles can relax.”

“Maintaining the correct seated posture is so important for people who have sedentary jobs. To help employers help their staff, I have developed First Move Office. This is an injury-prevention programme that is designed to help people find safe, comfortable and sustainable working postures. It also focuses on the importance of regular movement and changes to postures during the day, as well as providing effective implementation strategies.”

Find out more about our First Move Office programme.