SLOUCHING is a habit many of us are guilty of, and may have been trying to correct since our desk-bound school days.
But while we've been busy practising our good posture by balancing books on our head or pulling ourselves up with imaginary string, experts have discovered that sitting slumped may not be so bad.
Slumping in front of the computer or while watching television has long been thought as the fastest way to develop crippling back pain or a stiff neck.
And our dedication to avoiding the unhealthy consequences has seen us spend billions of pounds a year on posture-correcting chairs, slouching apps and even specialist clothing.
It's all down to the way pressure and strain is put on the spine when the sit slumped over, as the weight of the head increases and forces our backs to support a bigger load.
But evidence from a new study has suggested that it might not be so evil after all – with the research suggesting it may help us to keep our spines in shape.
In a paper released last year, slump-sitting postures helped increase the amount of fluid in between spinal discs, helping to reduce stiffness in the joints.
The study by physiotherapists at the University Hospital of North Tees in Durham concluded that some slouching can 'provide a valuable alternative to sitting upright'.
And researchers across the glove agree, with Australian studies showing that sitting slouched in between periods of sitting upright can help keep muscles in the core and legs relaxed.
Gavin Smith, an osteopath from London, told the Mail Online: "There’s this cultural ideal, and even whole industries, that would argue slouching is not good for us.
"While sitting straight activates muscles in the abdomen, pelvis and back, slump-sitting relaxes them, and so some periodic relaxation is helpful."
In fact, trying to sit as we've always been told, with feet flat on the floor and a straight back, can cause tension in the middle of the spine, and worse, breathing problems over time.
According to some of the experts, as long as you get up to walk around after slumping for a while, it's absolutely harmless.
"Sitting or standing in any position for prolonged periods is unwise. Slumping in itself is no worse for us than sitting up straight, provided we don’t do it all the time," Gavin added.
Australian researchers found that combining slouching with sitting straight was better than staying in one position for the whole day, using a variety of different muscles to encourage stability.
Gavin suggests switching positions every hour, including when using a standing desk – as standing up strong rather than relaxing your body could cause greater tension.
Getting up to walk around also prevents the gluteal muscles in the buttocks and hamstrings in the back of the legs from shortening and tightening.
So while you may be used to being told to sit up straight and not to fidget from your school days, going against these rules could be the key to a healthy spine.
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