Is it Safe for Your Back and Neck to Sit in a Reclined Position?

June 15, 2021

seating reclined

Back discomfort is one of the most common types of job injury and ultimate disability. Back pain in the workplace is often caused by poor posture or simply long hours sitting in a low-quality chair. A good, well-designed chair can either make or break your health.

There are many recommendations on how to sit in an office chair in the most ergonomic position. However, the ideal height for a screen to meet your eyes, an upright posture with feet flat on the floor, shoulders loose and relaxed, elbows even with keyboard and mouse surface, and the ideal height for a screen to meet your eyes are all critical aspects of that posture.

But what if everything you thought you understood was incorrect? What if the ideal ergonomic posture for your job is not sitting upright? It may be more likely than you realize.

What You Need to Know and Do to Recline Ergonomically

To avoid potential pain and other concerns, you must follow the other biomechanical best practices of ergonomics if you are going to sit reclined. Anyone who pays attention to ergonomics is familiar with the first tip. Maintain a flat foot on the ground. 

Body posture necessitates assistance. Some seats allow you to recline at a 135-degree angle, while others do not. When you are reclining, you will need a chair with the right amount of support, including a lumbar pad or pillow that can support your lower back and the natural curvature of your spine.

Short of standing, leaning back at this position is better for you than almost any other situation. Gravity pulls you downhill; therefore sitting at a 90-degree angle causes gravity to pull straight down your spine. This might put a strain on your spine and cause your vertebrae to collapse. 

The reclining position gently stretches your back muscles without overstretching them, relieves compression on the spine, and is typically more comfortable and soothing than other positions. With reclining seating, you should be aware of two other positions: your arms and your neck and head.

You have numerous options for your arms. You can utilize a keyboard tray that is about the level and position of your hips, and possibly even suspend it across your lap using an accessory. This makes it possible to reach and use the keyboard without having to strain. Stretching puts pressure on your shoulders and makes sitting in a reclined position more difficult.

The usage of a split device is another alternative. There are ergonomic keyboards that are split along the center, allowing you to place each half where it is most comfortable for your particular hand. An example would be something like this. When coupled with an ergonomic mouse or trackball, interacting with your computer may be a lot more pleasant.

You will need a headrest to support your head and neck. The last thing you need is to strain your neck by looking at your screens with your head tilted. Keep your neck in alignment with your spine with a headrest, and your gaze will be thrown upwards. Place your displays in a clear line of sight, possibly slanted down to make them easier to see.

Finally, we should include what we just discussed, but it bears repeating: your chair needs lumbar support. It does not matter if it is a lumbar cushion, a pad, or an adjustable bulge; as long as it is adjustable and rigid enough to support your lower spine, it does not matter.

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Reclined Seating

In an office context, ergonomic reclining might be difficult, especially if space is restricted. You are already halfway there if you have a nice chair that adjusts in a reclining position and can lock in place.

Your lumbar support should be adjusted. There should be no space under the curvature of your spine and your lower back should feel supported. Pick up an ergonomic lumbar pillow if needed for extra support. A chair with a lumbar pad that changes dynamically as you lean backward is perfect since it protrudes just enough in both positions to support your lower back without being in the way.

Crossing your legs is not a good idea. Keep your feet flat on the floor once more. Crossing your legs puts your body under a variety of biomechanical stressors, the most prevalent of which are located around the pelvic and lower spine. 

When you cross your legs, your hips twist and are no longer aligned with your shoulders. Your spine is twisted because of this. Crossing your legs with your knees open might increase the stress on your hips. If you hold the posture for long enough, both types of pressure can cause pain in your hips, back, and neck.

To support your head and neck, adjust your headrest. You are not in a good reclining position if you have to elevate your head to see your screen or use your computer in any other way. Your headrest should support both your head and your neck, with additional support under your head to prevent your neck from becoming too stressed. Make sure your screen or screens are adjusted to make them easier to see when you are reclining.

Other Things You Can Do Besides Sitting and Reclining Your Chair

Consider standing for the day. Just because reclining is preferable to sitting upright does not mean it is the only posture you can occupy during the day. Standing is more beneficial to the body than sitting, and movement is preferable to standing. You will be better off if you can alternate between sitting and standing every hour or two during the day rather than choose one or the other.

If you want to stand more, you will need a standing desk. Maybe FlexiSpot’s Comhar All-in-One Standing Desk Glass Top - 48" W will do you good. You will also want to learn how to stand comfortably, and you will probably want to invest in an anti-fatigue mat to stand on. Other accessories are also an option.

Final Words

Stretching should be done regularly throughout the day. Standing up and stretching regularly is a good practice no matter what your general seating position is. Stretches for your back, shoulders, arms, and legs are recommended. 

The best option is still to move. Transitioning from a reclining 135-degree angle to a standing posture, with stretches every hour, a change every two hours, and even treadmill motion, can all be beneficial. Just be careful not to overwork yourself.

Consider seeing a physical therapist if you are already suffering from back pain, neck discomfort, shoulder discomfort, or pain in other sections of your body that may be traced back to your posture. 

They can assess and modify your seated posture, as well as provide you with stretches and other pain-relieving techniques. Check out FlexiSpot right now for more ergonomics-related topics and goods!

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