Whether it's working or watching the newest, , digital life causes many people to slouch in their seats. Unfortunately, the harm it can do is no laughing matter. Bad seating posture has been consistently linked to back pain, weakened muscles, and reduced height over time Harvard Health Letter. 2005 Dec;31(2):1-3..

Baby Got (a Bad) Back — Why It Matters

Between the hunched back, raised shoulders, and craned neck, sitting at a computer can promote some seriously poor posture. The (in humans, at least) has three curves: the inward curve of neck (cervical curve), the outward curve of the upper back (thoracic curve), and the inward curve of the lower back (lumbar curve). Prolonged sitting can cause the lower spine to collapse like an accordion, causing the vertebrae to unnaturally press together Valachi, B. Dentistry Today. 2011 May;30(5):144-147.. Whereas usually keeps the curves of the spine aligned and the back muscles strong, prolonged, slouched sitting over a desk can put extra pressure on the and cause chronic pain Chen, SM., Lie MF., et al. School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Australia. International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health. 2009 Jul;82(7):797-806. Marshall, S. and Gyi, D. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2010 Oct; 30(4):389-391..

And because slouching can create fractures in the vertebrae, bad posture tends to worsen over time, stretching ligaments and molding muscles into a permanent hunched position Harvard Health Letter. 2005 Dec;31(2):1-3.. The hunched position forces these muscles and ligaments against gravity in order to keep the body upright Valachi, B. Dentistry Today. 2011 May;30(5):144-147. . This leads to fatigued muscles— a direct cause of back pain— and increases the likelihood of and height loss Valachi, B. Dentistry Today. 2011 May;30(5):144-147.. So yes, Grandma really is shrinking!

And for those who aspire to swing from the bells of Notre Dame, the back isn’t the only indicator of poor posture. in a slouch can weaken chest muscles and— gasp!— even make breathing more difficult Harvard Health Letter. 2005 Dec;31(2):1-3..

Sit Up and Take Notice — The Answer/Debate

So what’s ? Keep the shoulders down and back, chest high, feet flat, and crown of the head reaching upward. Those three normal back curves should be naturally present when correctly seated. To help keep the lower back's natural curve, for extra support.

On top of these conscious tweaks to posture, researchers recommend strengthening the body’s core muscles through yoga, Pilates, or resistance training, which makes it easier to hold up the chest and sit straighter Harvard Health Letter. 2005 Dec;31(2):1-3.. If available, try using an designed specifically for prolonged seating. And even occasional movement can help prevent chronic pain, so if sitting all day is the unavoidable, try to stand, stretch, and walk around as often as possible Valachi, B. Dentistry Today. 2011 May;30(5):144-147.. Because we all know sitting at work all day can make some .