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Is Sitting On a Stool Bad For Your Back?

Is Sitting On a Stool Bad For Your Back?

You may have heard that stools can be a good alternative to office chairs, and you’re wondering if they’re good for your back.

Or if you’ve sat on a stool before, you may have noticed that your back started to ache or hurt after a while, and you’re wondering why this happens.

After all, stools have no backrests, so surely they’re not as supportive as chairs.

This raises the question: is sitting on a stool bad for your back?

We have found that sitting on a stool is good for your back!

With no backrest, you are forced to sit up straight using your core muscles.

This forces you to have good posture, puts less pressure on your spine, helps reduce tension and pain in your back, and makes your core muscles stronger.

Why is it Good for Your Back to Sit on a Stool?

You might think that sitting on a stool would be bad for your back since stools usually don’t have backrests to keep you sitting up straight.

But that’s not true!

a man is sitting straight on a stool to work

Sitting on a stool is good for your back in many ways because stools don’t have backrests

This means your back has to do all the work – which isn’t a bad thing!

Without a backrest to rely on, your spine and pelvis will automatically assume the most neutral position, the natural S curve, which puts the least amount of pressure on your spine.

The natural S curve is the best position for good posture since it encourages a straight and flexible back – not slouching, or stiff as a board.

In this position, you will reduce any tension or pain caused by bad posture, and you will be less at risk of musculoskeletal injuries.

Another benefit of your back having to do all the work is that it leads to stronger back muscles!

Since you’re forced to sit up straight without any external help, your core muscles – those in your back, abdomen, thighs, and pelvis – are all exercised, which makes them stronger over time.

And by actively using your muscles to keep your back straight, you also develop muscle memory, which helps you maintain good posture even when in chairs.

Are stools better than office chairs for posture?

In short, yes! Stools are better than office chairs for posture.

This may not be the answer you were expecting, but it’s true!

a stool vs an office chair

Because they don’t have a backrest, stools force you to assume good posture since that’s the least stressful position for your back.

And since they encourage active sitting, stools help develop the muscles needed to support good posture. With stronger muscles, you can maintain good posture for longer periods of time.

In comparison,  have backrests that let you lean back and have your spine be supported by an external force.

This often encourages you to slouch, since you rely on the backrest to do all of the work and relax your core muscles completely.

If you use chairs regularly, your core muscles could become weak from infrequent use, which will make it even harder for you to maintain good posture.

Why does sitting on a stool hurt your back?

If you’ve noticed that sitting on a stool hurts your back, there are 4 possible reasons: weak core muscles, fatigue, improper sitting, or spinal problems.

When you have weak core muscles, it is harder to support your back without a backrest. So, even with active sitting, you might still have bad posture which leads to back pain.

To fix this, you can try exercises specifically for strengthening your core muscles, like the one below:

Back Pain Core & Back Strengthening Exercises - Ask Doctor Jo

When you have fatigue, you most likely need to take a break from sitting on a stool.

Active sitting is great for your posture, but the constant exercising of your muscles will eventually wear them down – even if your muscles are strong!

To fix this, take a break by walking around or sitting in a different chair.

When you sit improperly, you can hurt your back no matter what you sit on or how strong your muscles are.

To fix this, you can follow the steps listed below for sitting properly on a stool.

When you have spinal problems, your back may hurt even when you have good posture and strong, rested muscles.

To fix this, we recommend visiting a chiropractor or other medical professional.

How to sit on a stool without back pain?

How to sit in a stool without hurting your back

If you think you’re sitting improperly on a stool and that’s what’s causing your back pain, then it’s time to learn how to sit properly!

To sit on a stool without back pain, you can follow these easy steps:

  • Sit down in the middle of the stool.
  • Check that your knees are slightly below your hips.
  • Sit up in a straight, neutral position. You shouldn’t be slouching or overarched.
  • Position your ears over your shoulders.
  • Use your side abs to relax and lower your ribs.
  • Relax your shoulders.

And of course, try to take a 5-minute break for every 30 minutes you sit.

Stand up, walk around, stretch, or sit in another chair so that your muscles don’t become fatigued!


Sitting on a stool isn’t bad for your back. Without a backrest, your spine is forced to follow the natural S curve to lessen any pressure, tension, and pain in your back.

Stools are better than office chairs when it comes to posture since they force you to sit up straight and actively exercise your core muscles.

If your back hurts when sitting on a stool, you might have weak core muscles, active sitting fatigue, bad posture, or spinal problems.

To sit on a stool without back pain, make sure your knees are below your hips, your back is straight, your ears are over your shoulders, and your ribs and shoulders are relaxed.

We hope this article helped you understand how stools affect your back and posture!