You Don’t Really Need to Sit Straight

Back pain is not caused by improper sitting or standing, as a group of physical therapists recently explained in a magazine article . We often talk about the posture as if it were something we need to do correctly, but the evidence for back pain doesn’t tell us this.

In fact, they say, it’s normal for your posture to change from person to person, and it’s safe to slouch if you’re comfortable. Rather than trying to maintain one “correct” posture, you may be better off moving as much as possible, staying active and repositioning as needed. Sitting isn’t necessarily bad for you, but giving up exercise is probably bad.

Myth busting extends to fitness too: lifting things doesn’t always require the perfect neutral spine, as in the textbooks. The authors write, “Preferred lifting styles are influenced by naturally changing curvature of the spine, and recommendations for posture or core strengthening are not based on evidence.” (Strengthening your core can help you lift more weight, but that’s a whole different discussion .)

The recommendations in their article are primarily for other healthcare professionals, so they are not considered specific medical advice for you and me. If you are concerned about your own health, seek appropriate professional help. But it’s good to remember that everyday tasks like sitting and lifting weights aren’t inherently dangerous.


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