Ask the Ergonomist: Why is a Reclining Posture Good for My Body?

is reclining good for your body

Is reclining good for your body?

Did you know that research suggests that sitting up straight for hours at a time (i.e. when working at your home office) may lead to chronic back pain?

Contrary to what our mom told us, the best posture for your body is actually a slightly reclined posture. However, reclining today while working at the computer is nearly impossible because it increases the distance between our eyes and monitor, diminishing visual acuity while pulling our hands away from the keyboard.

As a result, we know that the majority of people assume a forward head, rounded shoulder (FHRS) posture. This type of posture wears on the discs and soft tissue supporting the spine. 

Below, certified professional ergonomist and licensed physical therapist Marc A. Turina establishes the three main benefits to reclined postures, and how you can achieve this healthful posture going forward. 

1. Similar to Standing

Did you know that standing puts the least amount of stress on the spine and its supportive musculature?

However, we certainly don’t want to stand all the time, especially when we’re working as standing for long periods of time can contribute to swollen feet, lower limb muscle fatigue, leg cramps, lower back problems as well as vein and cardiovascular problems. 

When we're sitting, a reclined sitting posture of 110-115 degrees is the best posture. This is because it’s more similar to the optimal standing position. To effectively recline while working at the computer, however, you need a complete ergonomic system which includes both a proper chair and a supportive desk. 

Done with neck and back pain while working? Contact us today for a complimentary ergonomic consultation.

2. Less Force on Spine

When we recline in our chairs, our spine is supported by the backrest. Research has consistently shown that somewhere between a 125-degree and a 135-degree recline best relieves the amount of stress through the interpretable discs.

However, without the support of a headrest, reclined angles of 110-115 degrees are optimal to maintain a correct line of sight with the monitor. 

Additionally, research continues to show that reclining postures pump nutrients into the intervertebral discs. This also reduces the load on the lumbar spine and paraspinal musculature through the transfer of upper body weight to the chair. Additionally, this can reduce forces on the lower back by as much as 20 percent.

This is extremely important, as continuous excessive force on the spine leads to:

  • early wear and tear,
  • degenerative disorders, and
  • possible surgeries. 

Is reclining good for your body? Done with neck and back pain while working? Contact us today for a complimentary ergonomic consultation.

3. Better Breath Support = Stress Relief

People with poor posture (rounded shoulders, tight pectoral muscles, forward heads) tend to have trouble establishing a good breathing pattern. Humans and animals take short, shallow breaths when they’re stressed or threatened.

This type of breathing, called shallow breathing, is opposite of abdominal breathing. We can do this for short periods of time when stressed, but we aren’t made to be on alert all the time. 

The typical consequences of long-term shallow breathing include:

  • Stress-related illnesses
  • Sleep disorders
  • Respiratory problems
  • Compromised immune systems
  • High blood pressure

With all this said, it makes sense that research continues to suggest that poor posture leads to these negative consequences as well as depression and anxiety disorders. 

However, assuming a health-positive posture leads to, “elevations in testosterone, increases in serotonin, decrease in cortisol, and increased feeling of power and tolerance for risk taking,” according to Dr. Kenneth Hansraj, chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine.

Done with neck and back pain while working? Contact us today for a complimentary ergonomic consultation.

It’s Time to Stop Sacrificing Proper Ergonomics at Home; You Need a Desk That Supports Your Reclining Posture 

“When we recline back in our chairs, our spines become supported by the backrest. This is actually a very good biomechanical posture for the spine. And a lot of research supports that reclined postures are optimal to relieve the amount of stress through the interpretable discs.” - Marc A. Turina, MPT, CPE

It’s true; when the constraint of desktop technology is removed, the vast majority of us prefer to sit in a semi-reclined or reclined posture. This is similar to the ones we assume while driving a car, chatting during casual conversations or sitting in our favorite chair in the living room.

So, why do we continue to hunch over and sacrifice our health while working?

Learn more about how NEXposture is revolutionizing the desk and chair relationship and take 15% off your first order + free shipping with promo code NEXPOSTURE15! We also offer a complimentary ergonomic consultation with every purchase, and a free 30-day return policy.