Nowadays, you may have to sit in a chair for 8 to 10 hours in a row while doing your work at a desk.
Staying still for all of those hours can be a struggle, and sitting up straight can be even more challenging, especially since it’s much easier to slouch into a comfortable position!
After a while, you may notice that you can no longer sit up straight in a chair – either because you automatically revert to slouching or because it hurts to sit up straight at all.
But why is this? We’ll find out in this article.
Table of Contents
Why can’t I sit up straight in a chair?
If you can’t sit up straight in a chair, you probably have bad posture caused by odd positions and slouching.
Although bad posture like slouching may feel more comfortable, it actually puts more strain on your muscles, joints, and ligaments. Meanwhile, good posture lessens the pressure on your joints, prevents fatigue and pain, and decreases strain on muscles and ligaments.
But there’s no need to worry! If your only problem is bad posture, then you can retrain yourself to have good posture.
And if you find it hard to have good posture, this may be because you have weak muscles in your back, neck, and core.
These muscles are all used to keep yourself erect when sitting, and they need to be strong to prevent you from slouching.
If you think this is the case, you can make your journey to good posture much faster by exercising these muscles and building up their strength.
Why does it hurt to sit up straight?
If it hurts when you try to sit up straight, you may have a more serious problem than just bad posture.
Although bad posture is most likely the cause of your pain, good posture will not be able to cure your pain completely!
Pain when sitting up straight occurs because of two main issues: tight muscles and unaligned vertebrae.
If you have tight muscles, you will most likely feel pain in your lower back and hamstrings when you try to sit up straight.
If you have unaligned vertebrae, you will most likely feel sharp pain along your spine, or feel like something’s not moving into place when you sit up straight.
How do you sit straight in a chair?
To sit straight in a chair, you will need to develop good posture. The best way to do this is through both imagery and positioning.
The first step to good posture is imagining it. This may sound strange, but it does work!
Imagine the following to help yourself find your natural good posture:
- Think of a single, straight line connecting your ears, shoulders, and hips.
- Imagine a rope pulling you up from your head, making you sit straight.
- Envision sitting on the bottom of your pelvis, with your tailbone far away from your seat.
- Imagine yourself as a graceful ballerina, trying to maintain good, relaxed posture – not as a stiff soldier.
If this still doesn’t get the job done, you can position yourself strategically to maintain good posture.
Follow these simple steps to set yourself up for good posture:
- If your chair is soft or deep, sit on the hard edge of your chair.
- Sit up with a straight back.
- Relax your shoulders, but make sure they’re not hunched or rounded.
- Plant your feet firmly on the floor and don’t cross your legs. Adjust your seat height if necessary.
- Keep your knees lower than your hips, at about a 120 degree angle. If your chair is too short for this, elevate yourself by sitting on top of something firm.
- Look straight ahead, with your eyes over your shoulders. This prevents overextension of your neck.
- If you need to turn, turn your body in the chair rather than twisting at your waist.
- If you need to get up, use the strength of your legs and don’t bend forward at your waist.
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How do you lessen the pain of sitting up straight?
To lessen any pain you feel when sitting up straight, you will have to stretch tight muscles and realign your vertebrae.
How do you stretch tight muscles?
If you have tight muscles, you will need to stretch them.
Typically, if it hurts to sit up straight, your hamstrings and lower back are the muscles that need to be stretched.
To stretch your hamstrings, you can follow these easy steps:
- Put your ankle on an elevated surface.
- Bend your leg at the knee.
- Flex your foot towards you.
- Hinge at the hip towards your knee but keep your back straight. Do NOT round your back since this might worsen your pain.
- Repeat on the other side.
To stretch your lower back while sitting at your desk, you can follow these easy steps:
- Tuck your chin in and arch your back for the cat pose.
- Hold the cat pose for 5 to 10 seconds.
- Straighten up, push your chest outward, and extend your head back for the cow pose.
- Hold the cow pose for 5 to 10 seconds.
- Alternate between the cat and cow poses at least 5 times.
How do you realign your vertebrae?
If you need to realign your vertebrae, practice good posture.
The only difference here is that you need to do so GRADUALLY.
This means don’t suddenly go from slouching to a straight back. Instead, move yourself towards a straight back by increments.
So if you’re slouching forward at a 45 degree angle, you could slowly move towards a 90 degree angle by adjusting your position by about 5 degrees each day or each week.
And if stretches and gradual adjustments still don’t work, you may want to visit a chiropractor.
If you can’t sit up straight in a chair, it’s likely caused by 3 things: bad posture, weak muscles, or unaligned vertebrae.
If you’re having trouble sitting up straight in a chair, you most likely have bad posture.
If it hurts to sit up straight, you may have tight muscles or an unaligned vertebrae. If you have weak or tight muscles, you can stretch and exercise them while you should visit a chiropractor if you have unaligned vertebrae.
To sit up straight in a chair, imagine a cord pulling you up to a gracefully straight posture. Relax your shoulders, keep your feet on the ground, and make sure your knees are lower than your hips.
To lessen the pain of sitting up straight, stretch your hamstrings and lower back, and gradually adjust your posture.
We hope this article helped you sit up straight!
My name is Vance, and I am the owner of To Ergonomics. Our mission is to improve your workflow by helping you create a supportive and welcoming environment. We hope that you’ll find what you’re looking for while you’re here.