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Sayer Clinics > News

Slouched reading this? Sit up and listen.

Slouched reading this?

Sit up and listen.


Good sitting and standing posture is not only important in helping prevent neck and back pain, it also helps you breathe, digest properly and maintain spinal flexibility.


Posture guru Dr Michael Durtnall, chairman of London back pain specialists Sayer Clinics, talks about desk jobs causing us so much pain. We sit slumped back, feet in front, chest down, spine hunched, and chin forward to work at a screen that’s too low and too far away.

We overangulate backwards the lower neck discs to peer at the low screen through multi-focal-lens glasses and tilt our chins upwards to read through the lowest, close-up area of the lens and we do it for years on end until we have severe disc disease with chronic pain and long-term spinal joint degeneration compressing the cervical nerves to our shoulders, arms and hands.


So when you’re slumped in bed or lying on the sofa with your laptop or iPad, put an angled support of firm cushions under your middle back, and a very big pillow on your lap, so that your laptop is nearer to eye level. 


Front sleeping is not recommended ... it twists and strains your neck. 

Try side-sleeping with a soft, goose-down pillow scrunched into the most comfortable shape for your neck. Place a pillow between your knees, so they’re the same width apart as your hips and shoulders, keeping your body steady, comfortable and untwisted.


When checking your mobile phone on the go, sit-up and hold your phone up to eye level.... better for your neck than always looking down.


Most importantly a message for ”Generation teXt” - that’s everyone under 40 who feel pride in their “texterity”, who hunch hideously, texting long messages..




Switch your device to voice recognition now ... tap the microphone and speak close-up and quietly - even in an Uber or a crowded room you can say what you want privately without anybody hearing - in one long sentence without bothering with punctuation or needing to spell difficult words ... just one long pure stream of consciousness ... engage your brain and write all texts, emails, work documents using your mouth not your thumbs ... texting is so ‘last decade!’





1. Sit squarely with a seat that tilts down at the front by 15 degrees.

2. Put your feet under the chair, knees lower than your hips, with most of your weight on the back of your thighs.

3. Move the chair forwards until your stomach touches the desk. Adjust the height of the chair so that your arms rest on the desk in front of you, forearms level and relaxed. The keyboard should be placed where your hands are.

4. Make sure the centre of your computer screen is at eye-level and set away exactly at your focal distance so you don’t need to poke your head and neck forwards.

5. With your head and neck in line above your spine, chest up, chin in, your shoulders will relax and your abdominal muscles will actively hold you in balance. Nevertheless, get up every half an hour and move around or ideally use a sit / stand desk so you can also work at eyelevel while standing with an upright chest, relaxed shoulders, as if talking to yourself in the mirror.

Michael Durtnall practices at Sayer Clinics: Kensington and specialises in treating and rehabilitating posture, costochondritis, coccyx and pelvic pain, which are directly related to our poor posture.