The effect of sitting posture on the loads at cervico-thoracic and lumbosacral joints

Technol Health Care. 2018;26(S1):409-418. doi: 10.3233/THC-174717.


Background: The sitting in an awkward posture for a prolonged time may lead to spinal or musculoskeletal disease. It is important to investigate the joint loads at spine while sitting.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the joint moment and antero-posterior (AP) reaction force at cervico-thoracic and lumbosacral joint for various sitting postures.

Methods: Twenty healthy males participated in this study. Six sitting postures were defined from three spinal curvatures (slump, flat, and lordosis) and two arm postures (arms-on-chest and arms-forward). Kinematic and kinetic data were measured in six sitting postures from which joint moment and AP reaction force were calculated by inverse dynamics.

Results: In the cervico-thoracic joint, joint moment and AP reaction force were greater in slump than the flat and lordosis postures (p< 0.001) and also in arms-forward posture compared to arms-on-chest posture. In the lumbosacral joint, joint moment and AP reaction force were greater in slump than flat and lordotic posture (p< 0.001) but there was no difference between different arm postures. The joint loads (moment and AP reaction force) at the cervico-thoriacic joint were closely related to the head flexion angle (r> 0.86) while those at the lumbosacral joint were correlated to the trunk flexion angle (r> 0.77). In slump posture, the joint moments were close to or over the extreme of the daily life such as sit-to-stand and walking. Consequently, if the slump is continued for a long time, it may cause pain and diseases at the cervico-thoracic and lumbosacral joints.

Conclusions: The results of the study indicated that the lordosis or flat would be better spinal postures. Also, keeping arms close to body would be desirable to reduce joint loads.

Keywords: Sitting posture; cervico-thoracic joint; joint moment; joint reaction force; lumbosacral joint.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cervical Vertebrae / physiology
  • Humans
  • Joints / physiology*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiology
  • Male
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Sacrum / physiology
  • Spinal Curvatures / pathology
  • Spine / physiology*
  • Thoracic Vertebrae / physiology
  • Young Adult