Do different sitting postures affect spinal biomechanics of asymptomatic individuals?

Yu Lok Wong (Corresponding Author), Tommy PM Chan, Alex WM Chau, Hon Tung Cheung, Keith CK Kwan, Alan KH Lam, Peter YC Wong, Diana De Carvalho

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Static sitting is thought to be related to low back pain. Of various common seated postures, slouched sitting has been suggested to cause viscoelastic creep. This, in turn, may compromise trunk muscle activity and proprioception, and heightening the risk of low back pain. To date, no research has evaluated immediate and short-term effects of brief exposures to different sitting postures on spinal biomechanics and trunk proprioception. Research question: This study aimed to compare the impacts of 20 min of static slouched, upright and supported sitting with a backrest on trunk range of motion, muscle activity, and proprioception immediately after and 30 min after the sitting tasks. Methods: Thirty-seven adults were randomly assigned to the three sitting posture groups. Surface electromyography of six trunk muscles during maximum voluntary contractions were measured at baseline for normalization. Pain intensity, lumbar range of motion, and proprioceptive postural control strategy were assessed at baseline, 20 min (immediately post-test) and at 50 min (recovery). Trunk muscle activity during sitting was continuously monitored by surface electromyography. Results: While the slouched sitting group demonstrated the lowest bilateral obliquus internus/transversus abdominis activity as compared to other sitting postures (F = 4.87, p < 0.05), no significant temporal changes in pain intensity, lumbar range of motion nor proprioceptive strategy were noted in any of the groups. Significance: Sitting for 20 min of duration appears to have no adverse effects on symptoms or spinal biomechanics regardless of the posture adopted. Future research should determine if there is a point at which does slouched sitting cause significant changes in pain/spinal biomechanics in people both with and without low back pain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-235
Number of pages6
JournalGait and Posture
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Electromyography
  • Ergonomics
  • Lumbar range of motion
  • Proprioception
  • Sitting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation

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