7 Bad Sitting Habits: How Bad Sitting Positions Affect Your Body
We sit for long periods of time every single day whether that’s relaxing at home or working at the office. There’s more to sitting than just plopping down in a chair, though. Have you realized how many bad sitting habits you have on a daily basis? It may not seem like such a big deal but bad sitting habits can have long-term negative effects on your physical and mental health.
Possible health risks (1) from bad sitting habits include chronic lower back pain, poor respiratory function, increased blood pressure from bad circulation elevating the risk of cardiovascular disease. They can also result in weight gain, contributing to chronic diseases like diabetes. Bad sitting habits have even been linked to sexual health, depression, and digestive issues.
This is why it’s so important to take note of how you sit on a daily basis and make simple adjustments to protect your overall health. What are the problem areas? We’re taking a look at 7 bad sitting habits that affect your body long-term so you can correct them right away!
What Do Bad Sitting Positions Affect?
Have you ever wondered about the repercussions of poor sitting habits on your body and how sitting affects your health in poor form? Bad sitting positions extend beyond momentary discomfort; they can have lasting impacts on your physical and mental well-being. Let's explore the areas of your health that can be adversely affected by consistently adopting improper sitting postures.
- Spinal misalignment: Poor sitting habits, such as slouching or hunching over, can lead to spinal misalignment. This misalignment puts excess pressure on the spine, contributing to chronic back pain and discomfort.
- Reduced blood circulation: Improper sitting can impede blood circulation, particularly in the lower extremities. This can result in swelling, numbness, and an increased risk of cardiovascular issues over time.
- Muscle strain and tension: Bad sitting positions place undue strain on muscles, especially in the back, neck, and shoulders. Prolonged muscle tension can lead to stiffness, soreness, and an increased likelihood of musculoskeletal issues.
- Impaired respiratory function: Slouching or sitting with poor posture can compromise respiratory function. It restricts the expansion of the lungs, reducing the efficiency of breathing and potentially leading to respiratory problems in the long run.
- Negative impact on digestive health: Maintaining improper sitting positions can adversely affect digestion. It may contribute to issues such as acid reflux, indigestion, and other digestive discomforts.
- Increased risk of mental health issues: Chronic pain and discomfort resulting from bad sitting habits can have psychological implications. Stress, anxiety, and a diminished sense of well-being are among the potential mental health consequences.
- Elevated risk of chronic diseases: Cumulative negative effects of bad sitting positions, such as reduced physical activity and compromised circulation, contribute to an elevated risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular conditions and diabetes.
Understanding the various aspects of your health that can be impacted by bad sitting positions is the first step toward making conscious adjustments for a healthier lifestyle. So what are the bad sitting habits to avoid?
Bad Sitting Habit #1: Slouching in Chairs
The most common and potentially obvious on our list of bad sitting habits that affect your body long-term is slouching. People slouch at their desks, at the dinner table, on benches—everywhere!
The most common negative result of slouching is lower back pain. When you slouch, your spine leaves its natural s-curve and has more pressure placed on it. This added pressure puts strain on the back muscles and compresses the sciatic nerve system.
Poor posture as a bad sitting habit also inhibits blood flow throughout the body. This restricted blood flow can result in leg and thigh pain, swelling, and increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease. Poor posture has also been directly associated with poor mental health, as well, making it imperative for your health as a whole.
An extreme example of the negative result of bad sitting habits like slouching is the potential to develop adult kyphosis (2). Adult kyphosis is most noticeable in a change in the curvature of the spine from the natural s-shape to a c-shape. This can result in impaired heart and lung functions as well as weaken lower extremities due to dramatically increased spinal pressure.
Make the conscious effort to sit up straight in your chair to make slouching a thing of the past. Chairs such as zero gravity recliners improve posture by providing lumbar support and keeping your back healthy.
Tip: Learn more here about how to fix posture while sitting.
Bad Sitting Habit #2: Misusing Your Office Chair Armrest
Everyone needs a little rest now and then. Using armrests makes our list of bad sitting habits that affect your body in the long-term because consistent usage can be damaging. It’s best, if possible, to have a chair without armrests to stop subconscious dependency on them.
Having armrests results in us subconsciously leaning to one side or the other. This puts the spinal column out of alignment and adds pressure to the muscles and pelvic region. Left uncorrected this leads to lower back pain experienced by upwards of 80 percent of all adults (3) in their lifetimes.
Fixed-height armrests present another issue: they may not fit under your desk. This forces you to have your chair further back than is optimal and to lean into your desk. This puts added pressure on your core muscles and back.
The easy fix for armrests that won’t fit under your desk seems simple: lower your chair. That leads us to the next item on our list of bad sitting habits!
Bad Sitting Habit #3: Incorrect Chair Height
Sitting at your desk with your chair too low makes our list of bad sitting habits as it affects your entire body. Sitting in a chair that’s too low can cause back pain from spinal misalignment, reduced blood circulation leading to swelling, heightened blood pressure, increased pressure on internal organs (4), and the advanced risk of heart attack or stroke in the long-term. Serious ramifications for something so easy to fix!
This is why it’s so important to ensure your chair is at a proper height for you and optimized for your desk setup. If you’re able to work from home, High quality chairs such as a zero gravity chair paired with other ergonomic items works to fix bad sitting habits and prevent their negative effects on your body.
Bad Sitting Habit #4: Feet Not Touching the Ground While Sitting
Next on our list of bad sitting habits that affect your body long-term is your feet not touching the ground while sitting in your chair! While this may appear to be a funny image in your head, sitting without feet support can result in negative impacts to your health.
If your feet don’t touch the ground or a chair foot rest, your legs dangle. This bad sitting position causes your pelvis to tilt backwards and make your core muscles work overtime to compensate. Before you think this is going to give you abs at the office, think again. Instead, it can be a cause of muscle strain and chronic lower back pain!
The ideal solution is to position your chair at a height where your feet touch the floor and your thighs are parallel to the ground. If this doesn’t work with your desk height, a small foot rest under desks is an easy solution. Without a foot rest we resort to subconscious changes in our body positioning to compensate such as hooking our feet around the base of the chair or the next bad sitting habit on our list: sitting with your legs crossed!
Bad Sitting Habit #5: Sitting With Your Legs Crossed
While we may be used to crossing our legs, it’s actually a bad sitting habit that affects your body in the long-term. When you’re sitting with your legs crossed, one side of your pelvis is pulled upward. This results in a misalignment of the spine and increases pressure on your muscles and spinal discs. Left unaddressed, sitting with your legs crossed can cause chronic lower back pain as well as muscle strain.
To fix this bad sitting habit try to keep your knees aligned while seated. After a while, this will become second nature and you’ll no longer subconsciously position yourself in a bad way. Having a foot rest or a chair that is at the correct height will make this bad sitting habit easier to break!
Bad Sitting Habit #6: Sitting Too Long
Next on our list of bad sitting habits is simply sitting too long. At a minimum, aim for 10 minutes of standing for every hour of sitting. This is especially important for those who work at a desk on a daily basis.
While you may think you’re comfortable or relaxed, sitting too long weakens the core muscles along with your glutes and leg muscles. When your core weakens, more strain is put on your back and pelvic region and can result in chronic lower back pain and sciatica symptoms. You can also experience thigh and neck pains.
To prevent pain from sitting too long, integrate simple exercises into your daily routine and ensure you have an ergonomic sitting position setup. Adding in a few simple routines to break up sitting times is an easy way to kick this bad sitting habit.
Bad Sitting Habit #7: Sitting on a Pillow or Too Soft a Chair
There does exist too much of a good thing! While you don’t want to sit on concrete, sitting on a cushy chair or using a pillow are bad sitting habits that can affect your body long-term, as well. Sitting on too soft a surface makes it more difficult to maintain good posture. Without good posture, we put more pressure on our spine, reduce blood circulation, and increase risks to our health.
Sitting on too soft a surface also makes you constantly engage your core muscles in a bad way that could cause muscle strain. Consider using a zero gravity chair in your setup to be comfortable and have the lumbar support and body positioning you need for optimal health and to improve blood circulation.
Bad Sitting Habit #8: Looking Down at Your Phone
In the era of smartphones, a prevalent but often overlooked bad sitting habit is constantly looking down at your phone. Whether it's scrolling through social media, texting, or binge-watching videos, the downward gaze can take a toll on your neck and spine, leading to what's commonly known as "tech neck." The process for how to get rid of tech neck can be challenging.
When you constantly look down at your phone, you put immense strain on the muscles and vertebrae in your neck. This position disrupts the natural alignment of your spine, leading to an increased risk of chronic neck pain, stiffness, and headaches. The term "tech neck" has emerged to describe this modern woe, emphasizing the negative impact of our handheld devices on our posture and well-being.
Moreover, the excessive curvature of the neck while staring down at your phone can result in long-term issues, such as early degeneration of the cervical spine. The added pressure on the neck and upper spine can contribute to nerve compression and diminished respiratory function.
To mitigate the effects of looking down at your phone, consider holding your device at eye level whenever possible. Elevate your phone to reduce strain on your neck and maintain a more neutral spine position. Implementing this simple adjustment can help prevent the development of tech neck and alleviate associated discomfort.
As with other bad sitting habits, conscious awareness and proactive adjustments are key. Take breaks, stretch your neck muscles, and be mindful of your posture when using your mobile device to safeguard your spine health.
Bad Sitting Habits Can Affect Mental Health Negatively, Too
While the physical consequences of bad sitting habits are often highlighted, their profound impact on mental health is equally crucial. Prolonged periods of sitting in non-ergonomic positions can take a toll on your mental well-being, contributing to stress, fatigue, and diminished cognitive function.
- Stress and discomfort: Bad sitting habits, such as slouching or sitting with poor posture, not only strain your muscles but also elevate stress levels. Physical discomfort can trigger psychological stress, leading to a cycle of tension that affects your overall mood and mental resilience.
- Fatigue and reduced productivity: Sitting in uncomfortable positions can result in fatigue, both physically and mentally. The strain on your body, particularly your back and neck, can lead to a constant state of tiredness. This fatigue can significantly impact your productivity, focus, and the ability to tackle mental tasks effectively.
- Cognitive function and creativity: Maintaining a sedentary position for extended periods may hamper cognitive function and creative thinking. Adequate movement and ergonomic sitting contribute to improved blood circulation, enhancing oxygen and nutrient flow to the brain. Conversely, bad sitting habits can impede this flow, potentially hindering your cognitive abilities.
- Addressing mental health alongside physical health: Recognizing the interconnectedness of physical and mental well-being is crucial. Incorporating breaks, stretching routines, and adopting ergonomic seating options are not only beneficial for your body but also play a vital role in promoting mental clarity and emotional well-being.
As you work towards correcting bad sitting habits, consider the holistic impact on your mental health. Simple adjustments to your sitting routine can contribute to a more harmonious balance between physical and mental wellness.
You may not have realized how much bad sitting habits could affect your body long-term. Correcting them is simple! Conscious adjustments to fix your bad sitting habits will become second nature very quickly. Having the right place to sit is a key factor. Adjust your office chair or choose the best zero gravity chair for your home and how much better you feel right away when encouraging back tension release..
Feeling the pain from your bad sitting habits already? Check out the health benefits of a zero gravity for back pain.
Disclaimer: This content is not medical advice. Please consult with your health care professional when considering implementing changes to your health or workout routines to ensure it’s compatible with your needs.
- 1: https://health.usnews.com/wellness/slideshows/10-ways-poor-posture-can-harm-your-health
- 2: https://www.umms.org/ummc/health-services/orthopedics/services/spine/patient-guides/adult-kyphosis
- 3: https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Low-Back-Pain-Fact-Sheet#3102_7
- 4: https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/ergonomics/sitting/sitting_poor.html#:~:text=How%20does%20sitting%20on%20a%20chair%20that%20is%20too%20low,on%20buttocks%20and%20causes%20discomfort