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Sitting Pretty: Protect Your Back

Something as routine as sitting can cause back strain if the movement is not done right. Here are some tips to help protect your back as you sit.

When sitting down, follow these steps:

  • Make sure you can feel the chair behind you with your legs.

  • Place one foot slightly in front of the other.

  • The stomach muscles should be tightened as you bend from the knees, keeping your back straight.

  • Grip the armrests of the chair, or the sides of the seat if there’s no armrest.

  • Bend your knees while using your legs instead of your back to lower yourself into the chair.

  • Scoot your buttocks to the back of the chair until you’re in a comfortable position.

Man sitting in chair, holding the seat

While sitting, you should:

  • Keep your feet flat on the floor and don’t cross your legs.

  • If necessary, place your feet on a small footrest so that they are fully supported.

  • Use a pillow or other type of support behind your lower back or between your shoulder blades as needed.

  • If you must sit for a long period of time, reposition yourself now and then. You can also reposition the chair.

  • Get up from the chair several times an hour to move around and stretch. For instance, once an hour stand, stretch, put your hands on your lower back, and gently arch backward.

Online Medical Reviewer: Louise Cunningham RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Raymond Turley Jr PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer: Thomas N Joseph MD
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2021
© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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