Posture & Pain: Combatting sitting

Pain and posture is one of the more divisive topics in the world of strength and conditioning. 

Pain is extremely complex and multi-faceted and I think this quote sums it up nicely: 

“Posture May Not Cause Pain, But Improving Posture Can Help to Decrease Pain”.

Your static postures during sitting, standing, and walking are a product of your cumulative movement throughout the day. Our bodies are built to adapt to the positions and activities we take on most frequently”. Over time these positions become the “norm” for your body. (physical therapist Chris Leib)


Firstly what we have to look at are what are the problems that we encounter when we sit at a desk all day. Generally speaking, tightness/shortness in the hip flexors from being held in that position for a prolonged period of time and repeated day after day, as well as flexion (rounding) of the thoracic spine (upper back), forward head posture, and internally rotated shoulders.

Sitting itself is not the problem,I don’t automatically turn into Quasimotto every time my bum hits the seat.

The problem is holding these positions for prolonged periods of time. As renowned Strength coach Eric Cressey likes to say “The best posture is an ever-changing posture”. 


The solution that we would suggest is add in ‘movement breaks’ every 20 mins if possible and if you can vary your positions regularly from sitting/standing it can also help. If you find it difficult to remember or you get completely lost in your work for hours on end why not set little reminders on your phone at regular intervals to get up, change position or add in a little movement break. 

Movement breaks can be anything really, the key is get yourself out of a certain position that you have been holding for a length of time. I like to try to get people to use time-efficient, big bang-for-buck exercises that will work on multiple elements at the same time. I would tend to focus on getting people into the opposite of the list of issues above, so namely try to get some extension at the hip, extension and rotation of the thoracic spine and external rotation of the shoulders. Check out some samples of exercises that I find useful below. How many of the exercises you do depends on yourself, if you only have 2 mins pick one that you find the most effective and just go with that. If you have a little more time make them into a mini-circuit and do them all once. As always execution is vital, quality of movement matters! Give them a try and let me know how you get on.

Cathal O’Shea

SOLAS Health & Fitness



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