Why is Sitting Upright so Uncomfortable?

A woman sitting straight in an office chair
A woman sitting straight in an office chair (Source: Unsplash)

Working in front of the computer screen for long hours in an upright position makes me usually tired.

It is tough to maintain an upright posture without getting hurt in the back. 

Generally, sitting upright feels uncomfortable because it doesn’t let our muscles relax. The position usually attempts to straighten the natural curves in the back, and it isn’t straightforward to maintain. 

proper  posture at work
Proper posture for sitting in an office (Source: Pixabay)

However, our work life requires us to sit in the same position for a long time. This article will provide some critical information about the upright sitting position. 

Read on to know more about whether sitting in an upright position is good for you or not. 

Why is Sitting Upright so Uncomfortable?

Sitting upright requires a lot of work from our muscles. It feels uncomfortable to sit in an upright position after a significant amount of time. It is because our forces do not have the privilege to relax. 

Sitting upright requires the natural curves in our back to be straight. This position is tough to maintain and may not be helpful for long-time seaters.

Usually, sitting involves the flexion of the hip joint. During that time, our back remains steady.

The natural and anatomical curves in the spine become equivalent to perfectly straightening the spine. 

The main aim of sitting upright is not to make your spine straight but to create a better posture. 

Sitting upright for a long time makes your joints get stiff. As a result, the muscles will shorten, leading to tightness and stress.

Back ache
Backache due to prolonged sitting (Source: istock)

Swelling and pain in the joints are considered a symptom of Rheumatoid Arthritis. 

A study on variable sitting positions was conducted with 22 healthy volunteers to determine which positions are best and worse for our backs.

The volunteers were instructed to sit in one of three positions: slouching, upright and relaxed.

Spinal angles, spinal disk height, and movements were all measured.

The researchers discovered that the upright position (90 degrees) induced the maximum movement in the disks, while the relaxed position (135 degrees) caused the least movement in the disks.

In other words, the upright position is harmful to the back, but the relaxed position is beneficial.

Anatomy of Spinal Cord
Anatomy of Spinal Cord (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

If you want to avoid the complications of sitting in an erect position, you can always try some tips and tricks to lessen the discomfort. 

Is Sitting Upright Good for you? 

From an early childhood age, we try to maintain our position correctly. Many people always consider sitting up straight the best position, especially at work. 

However, it is essential to know whether sitting upright is suitable for your physical health or not.

According to the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy research, there is nothing such as a correct posture, and the differences in posture are a fact of life. 

Moreover, the research also suggests that no evidence proves that incorrect posture causes lower back pain. 

Meanwhile, the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) has also found that the ideal position for sitting at a desk is a 135-degree angle- leaning back. 

Furthermore, the study analyzed that sitting upright at a 90-degree angle causes strain on the spine.

Therefore, it is much better to adopt a sitting position with slouching and sitting upright. 

Active sitting
Active sitting in an upright position (Source: Wikipedia)

At the same time, most people consider sitting up straight despite some of its disadvantages. There are some significant reasons behind this reason. 

1. Improves the Appearance 

You appear taller and more confident when sitting upright on your desk. Usually, our body posture reflects us as a person.

A person sitting up straight at his office desk can provide an excellent impression to the eyes of onlookers.

According to the study about “Body Posture Affects Confidence In your Thoughts”, our posture can affect how we think about ourselves.

If we sit up straight, we convince ourselves by our posture. 

Moreover, the study also says people who tend to sit upright are more productive rather than people who choose to slouch or bend over. 

A visual representation of right and wrong sitting positions
Illustration of correct and wrong sitting position (Source: iStock)

2. Improves the Muscle Tones 

Sitting upright trains our muscle tones and increases our strength to a great extent.

Strengthening the core muscles will improve your muscle tone and posture simultaneously. 

If you get tired after sitting in the upright position for more than 20-30 minutes, know that your muscles have become weak.

You can always try on some simple exercises to get relief. Once you have control over your posture, your level of balance will also improve. 

3. Improves the Level of Concentration 

Sitting up straight improves concentration by improving breathing, decreasing depression, and increasing self-confidence.

A study made by the San Francisco State University has found that students who sat up straight in class did better at Mathematics.

Moreover, the students claimed that they could concentrate well when practicing a good posture. 

When you sit up straight, you will feel more confident, resulting in better concentration. Similarly, a good posture also helps you increase your energy level. 

concentration of a man in office
Improves Concentration (Source: istock)

4. Improves your Breathing 

It can sound unfamiliar to many people out there, but our posture has to do with our respiratory system.

Usually, leaning over for a prolonged time causes our lungs to compress. As a result, your body and brain receive less oxygen. 

A study published in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation archives says that people who sit slumped over have much lower lung capacity than those seated in a wheelchair. 

Therefore, sitting upright will help you distribute the oxygen level evenly. It will ensure the oxygen flow in an adequate amount to your brain. 

Improves Breathing (Source: istock)

5. Lowers Mental Stress 

People having mental stress, anxiety or depression usually tend to slouch over. It is prevalent to see a depressed person sit in this manner. 

A study made by Linda Wasmer Andrews: Good posture may ease symptoms of depression has found that when people suffering from mild and moderate depression were requested to sit up straight, they felt more energized and confident. 

A work stressed man
A man stressed with work (Source: istock)

Sitting upright does not entirely work like a medication or a therapy.

However, it makes people more alert and engaged in what they do. Therefore, when you are down, sit upright and lift your spirits. 

6. It Improves Digestion

Did you know that? A proper sitting posture can aid in digestion.

Incorrect sitting posture can lead to digestive issues such as acid reflux and heartburn, as well as irritable bowel syndrome.

Your stomach and intestinal walls must contract through a series of coordinated movements called peristalsis in order for your digestive system to function properly.

Anatomy of digestive system
Anatomy of digestive system (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

This process allows our food to move through our digestive system, delivering nutrients to keep us energized.

It is naturally slowed when you sit up straight, but when poor posture is factored in, it nearly comes to a halt.

 A study was done by the National Library of Medicine to determine the effect of body posture, upright vs supine, on gas load transit in the intestine.

The study concluded that body posture has a significant influence on intestinal gas propulsion: upright transit is faster than supine transit.

How do you Sit Upright Comfortably? 

A good posture requires you a lot of patience and consistency. You may find it difficult to sit upright initially because it requires quite an effort.

However, with regular practice, you can ace the art of good positioning. 

The following  steps are essential and most crucial to consider while sitting in an upright position comfortably: 

  • To sit comfortably, it is essential to adjust your office chair to your required height level and help you attain a good posture. 
  • Moreover, always make sure that the armrests don’t directly hit the desk. Instead, they slide in. 
  • Check the desk height by either standing or sitting. All you have to do is rest your forearms on it and raise or lower them unless you can feel the weight come off from the shoulders. 
  • Make sure your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Moreover, your hips can be open about 120 degrees. 
  • Always keep your feet flat on the floor. If your feet do not reach the bottom, you can adjust the height of your chair or place a footrest. 
  • Place the mouse near your keyboard so that you do not have to stretch, increasing the risk of strain in the neck and shoulder.
Ergonomic sitting posture
Ergonomic Sitting Posture (Source: Pixabay)
  • Maintain a slight gap between the back of your knees and the chair, and place your ankles in front of the knees.
  • Keep your forearms and knees parallel to the floor and relax your shoulders. 
  • Make sure to avoid crossing your legs when you are seated.
  • Hold the elbows at the sides, creating an L shaped in the arms. 
  • Do some stretching exercises at specific intervals for your shoulders, neck, and back. It will help you ensure flexibility and achieve strength. 
  • Get out of the chair and move around for some time to relax your back muscles. Sitting for prolonged hours makes you slouch more. Therefore, if you feel your shoulders are dropping, walk around for a while. 
  • Always choose a chair that allows you to keep your feet planted on the floor.
  • Avoid straining your neck for a long time while looking at the screen of your computer. 

Read more: How long should you sit in front of a computer?

Watch the video below to get more ideas about the best way of sitting at your Workspace.

Final Verdict 

Sitting in an upright position may be very complex for you in the first place. However, you can eventually achieve the correct position at work with consistent effort and balance. 

As discussed in this article, sitting in an upright posture has specific pros and cons. Therefore, it is usually up to the person whether they want to maintain the position or not. 

Always consider the level of comfort while trying any position at your work desk.

If you feel comfortable sitting upright, have strong muscles, and do not get tired quickly, you can choose it without any doubt. 

However, sitting in an upright position for aged and older adults with certain health complications is not possibly suited.

The best thing about sitting upright is that it makes us appear bright and taller and makes our abdominal areas more defined. 

If you have a good posture, you will likely attract people towards you. Moreover, you can always pass on a good impression in the eyes of the onlookers.

You may be interested in reading about sleeping while sitting on the chair.

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