Cary Orthopaedics physical therapist, Arek Kierpal, PT, explains how a simple understanding of good sitting posture and sound workplace ergonomics will go a long way towards minimizing unwanted back and neck pains.

Back pain and sitting posture

In simple terms, back and neck pain caused by prolonged sitting is usually from poor posture and/or excessive intervertebral disc pressure. There are other causes, but these are the most common.


If you suffer from increasing back and neck pain while sitting, here are some simple strategies that can help

  • Maintain good sitting posture by ensuring you maintain a good lumbar lordosis (the natural curve in your lower back) every time you sit. Some chairs have built-in lumbar supports, like in modern cars and most office chairs. If yours doesn’t, you can use a simple lumbar roll.
  • Lumbar rolls and supports come in several configurations, and it doesn’t matter which one you use as long as it’s comfortable. You may even use a rolled-up towel.
  • Avoid sitting for long periods at one time. If you sit for hours every day because you have a desk job, make sure you periodically get out of your chair or alternate between sitting and standing. This is where a variable height or standing desk is handy, as seen below.
  • In a broader sense, exercise consistently for back health. There are several great exercises that will improve spinal strength, flexibility and posture. In combination with good sitting posture, this will reduce back pain significantly.

A good workstation design involves following some basic rules to minimize back and neck pains

  • Maintain the natural curves of the spine by using a lumbar roll.
  • Sit close to your desk to avoid long reaches and hunching.
  • Position monitor at eye level. If the monitor is significantly below eye level, and you are therefore looking down, this puts excessive strain on the neck.

lumbar-supportKey takeaways

  • Use a lumbar roll when sitting to create proper sitting posture easier.
  • Use a variable height desk to alternate between sitting and standing, or at least have a break from sitting every 45 minutes.
  • Have your laptop/computer screen at eye level to avoid looking down.
  • Keep your head positioned over your torso, not in front.

Spine physical therapy in Raleigh

Cary Orthopaedics Spine Center is the region’s only dedicated orthopaedic spine practice. As a part of our comprehensive capabilities, we offer complete diagnostics and spine-specific physical therapy, enabling your doctor and therapist to closely collaborate on your personalized treatment plan for the fastest road to recovery.

Your spine is a delicate and complex network of bones, joints and muscles that are different any other part of your body. Unlike general physical therapy, Cary Orthopaedics’ spine-specific physical therapists are specially trained to provide rehabilitation for spine conditions and injuries. Contact us to learn more about how physical therapy and proper ergonomics can help to ease your back pain.