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In the nineteenth century, several physiologists and orthopedists published theories about “proper” sitting postures and from them deduced recommendations for seat and furniture design. Their common concept was that sitting with an upright trunk meant sitting healthily. This idea had remained virtually unchallenged until recently, when various and even contradictory theories about healthy postures while sitting at work have been published. Some of these have led to rather radical proposals for sitting and “seats” at work. The nineteenth-century concept was that the spinal column of the sitting person should be “erect” or “upright” similar to that of a “healthy normal upright standing” person. Special emphasis was placed on maintaining a “normal” lumbar lordosis. This posture was believed to put the least strain on the spinal column and its supportive structures, including the musculature. Also, this posture was considered “socially proper”. Recommendations for the design and use of seats were based on this desired posture. These ideas about suitable posture and furniture were repeated in the literature, apparently without much questioning or contradiction, until the middle of the twentieth century. In retrospect, this is quite surprising, given the lack of experimental support for the appropriateness of the upright posture.

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