Contrary to popular belief, sitting, which most people believe is relaxing, is hard on the back. Sitting for long periods of time can cause increased pressure on the intervertebral discs— the springy, shock-absorbing part of the spine.

You may find that if you have your chair too low to the ground, then the body will naturally tend to slouch. This is cured by raising the chair up so that your knees are in line with your pelvis or lower than your pelvis. If you tend to keep your feet underneath you rather than directly below the knees with your feet on the floor, this may cause tension in the body as well as encourage a bad seating position. In addition, it may be helpful to have the base of the seat either flat or slightly sloping forwards to help you keep a straight back. A seat base the slopes backwards, where your pelvis is lower than your knees, is conducive to slouching and it is very hard to maintain a proper posture in this position.

If your chairs don't offer good lumbar back support, then it is helpful to scan the body every so often to feel whether you are maintaining your natural curve in the lower back.  Leaning back on any chair is going to make you slouch to an extent. It's not too bad if the base of the chair allows you to push your base of spine under it, so your chair back helps to preserve the lumbar curve.  Also, it is best to avoid keeping bulky objects in your back pockets, as this is not only awkward, uncomfortable and potentially stressful when trying to sit upright, it also tends to encourage one to slouch more so that the thick wallet does not stick into your pelvis.

What do you need to look for in Ergonomic Seating?

An ergonomic chair must come with a hydraulic seat height adjustment. This is probably the single most import adjustment mechanism on a chair. It allows the user to adjust the chair so their feet can rest properly on the floor. Also a fully ergonomic chair must come with a built-in lumbar adjustment which can be adjusted by turning a knob on the side of the chair. Inadequate lumbar support places excess pressure on the spine. Remember, a lumbar support cushion properly placed behind the small of the back can help to accentuate lumbar support. The backrest should also have angle and height adjustments to achieve proper spinal alignment. The angle adjustment allows the user to adjust the angle of the back rest relative to the seat pan, as apposed to the tilt mechanism, which moves the seat pan with the backrest. When you change the tilt, the angle between the seat pan and the backrest stays the same.  Set the backrest angle so that your hip-torso angle is 90 degrees or greater. 


Some office chairs or stools are of the kneeling variety, depicted above. These may seem like the ideal solution to sitting at a desk with a straight back. The chair ensures that the knees are below the pelvis. This is good. However, with a regular office chair, the weight of the body is mainly carried on the buttocks and upper hamstrings, and partly on the soles of the feet. With the kneeling chair, the pressure is taken mainly on the knee caps and top of the shins and to a lesser extent on the tips of the toes if the feet touch the ground. The knee pad is there to minimize pressure but as you can see the effect is to push the lower leg backwards and and not up into the knee joint as it would be when standing. This is not ideal for the knee. Of course, short durations in such a chair may be acceptable, but all day regular usage may simply shift back problems to knee problems. In my opinion you are better off with a regular office chair, albeit one that is sufficiently wide/long and padded to accommodate your body shape, and one with enough adjustment for height and lumber support to allow for the 'perfect' sitting posture.

Sit in a chair with good lumbar support and proper position and height for the task. Keep your shoulders back. Switch sitting positions often and periodically walk around the office or gently stretch muscles to relieve tension. A pillow or rolled-up towel placed behind the small of your back can provide some lumbar support. If you must sit for a long period of time, rest your feet on a low stool or a stack of books. Don’t slouch when sitting.

Fellowes Professional Series Back Support
Fellowes Professional Series Back Support

Ideal for those who spend long hours in the office, the Fellowes Professional Series Back Support with Microban Protection helps reduce back pain by providing support where you need it most. ;

Fellowes Professional Series Back Support, Black (8037601)

I love, love, love, this office chair back support.

CostMad ® Super Comfort Mesh Lumbar Back Seat
CostMad ® Super Comfort Mesh Lumbar Back Seat

By giving your back a little extra support, you could help improve your posture and enjoy more comfort in your seat. Lumber Back Support is the simple way to help align your spine when sitting, as well as allow cooling air to circulate. Simply slip Sit Right over the back of your chair and you'll instantly feel the difference.

CostMad ® Super Comfort Mesh Lumbar Back Seat Sit Support System Pain Relief for Office Chair Seat etc with Elasticated Positioning Strap and Mesh Grill

It works great. I use it on my computer chair and my back hasn't hurt since.

Lower Back Pain Relieving Gel Seat
Lower Back Pain Relieving Gel Seat

Now there's a way to sit comfortably through those endless meetings, long flights and overtime sporting events.

Lower Back Pain Relieving Gel Seat

This item is very comfortable and does improve long sitting sessions.