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If you spend a lot of time in a chair at work, you should think about your posture. Leaning down while sitting can cause short- and long-term back problems, but you don’t need expensive gadgets and gimmicks to fix the problem.

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If you sit for long periods of time during the day, you may notice tension and back pain. Slouching puts stress on your lower back. Slumping or sagging by itself may not cause lower back pain, but after the back has been strained or injured, poor posture can make the pain worse. When you sit, keep your shoulders back and maintain a slight curve in your lower back.

There are many ways to improve your sitting posture, and not just at work. Good posture is helpful when driving, at the movies, on the couch, or even in a restaurant. Here are some tips and exercises to help you progress towards a healthy back:

• Place a lumbar/foam roller in the curve of your back while sitting. Don’t have a roller? A small pillow or rolled up towel works well.

• Make sure your chair is low enough so that you can place both feet flat on the floor with your knees slightly lower than your hips. If you can’t lower your chair, use a small footstool or even a book as a footstool to raise your knees.

• When driving, make sure your knees are almost at hip height by adjusting your seat closer or farther from the steering wheel. Sit straight and upright with both hands on the steering wheel and your arms in a slightly bent but comfortable position. Do you remember the lumbar spine? It works great here too. If your seat is angled back away from the steering wheel, use a travel pad or triangular foam wedge to create a horizontal plane.

• Take breaks to get up and get some exercise when you’ve been sitting for a long time. Do a few short stretches to loosen up your back before sitting back down.

As always, talk to your doctor or physical therapist if your back pain is persistent or doesn’t improve with posture. A healthy back is a happy back – and a happy you

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