While more than 2.5m people in the UK suffer with back pain, there is little evidence linking the condition with slouching or bad posture

Do you slouch over your computer screen? Stand with your hips tilted forward and your stomach sitting out? Do people tell you to “sit up straight or you’ll get backache?” More than 2.5 million people in the UK have back pain each day – costing £22bn annually – so should we all be sitting up a little straighter?

“If you ask most people how to prevent back pain they will say: ‘Sit up straight and mind my back,’ because our parents have instilled this in us,” says Kieran O’ Sullivan, senior lecturer at the University of Limerick and lead physiotherapist at the sports spine centre in Aspetar hospital, Qatar. We are, says O’Sullivan, almost paranoid about posture. Yet the evidence linking posture and backache is surprisingly insubstantial.

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