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"Back Pain From Sitting"

Back pain from sitting is almost always caused by poor sitting postures.

Since poor sitting posture is so habitual for many people, it is almost undetectable most of the time.  And unless we know what good sitting posture should look like, how would anyone know the difference?

Sometimes the key factor to healing back pain can only be a matter of improving one's sitting posture.

Eliminate Back Pain from Sitting

An easy way to eliminate back pain while sitting is to restore proper sitting posture.

Observe the following instructions to sit properly in your chair:

  1. Your head should be directly in line with your neck.  Having your chin tucked in slightly. Keep the ears over the shoulders.
  2. Both shoulders should be level.
  3. The middle of your back should be straight.
  4. The hips should be in line with the shoulders and the ankles should be in line with the hips.
  5. When sitting the hips and knees should both be at 90 degree angles.
  6. Maintain a natural curve in the low back (referred to as your lordosis).

Why Do We Get Back Pain from Sitting?

As we deviate very much from the proper sitting posture, which often happens when we are forced to sustain sitting positions for long periods of time, postural dysfunction can occur.  Whether we are working at our desk for hours at a time or commuting to the workplace, our lower backs can become rounded and the natural lordosis lost.

As ligaments in your lower back become stretched and weakened, or lumbar discs become distorted, you will find that going from a seated position into standing is uncomfortable for a few minutes.  These are your early warning signs. The reason you feel this way is because the soft tissue in question has to change length and recover from being overstretched or distorted. 

When we create an environment that impacts our sitting posture, nasty things can happen to our lower back.  Ligaments and muscles in the lower back become stretched out (and weakened).  It may also cause a distortion of the lumbar discs that are located between the vertebrae. 

I would recommend you spend time focusing on using the postural muscles of your lower back in sitting.  Over time, they will become strong enough to keep up with your current demands.  Only use lumbar supports (lumbar roll or soft corset) if absolutely necessary.  It will be difficult at first to sustain a proper sitting posture and absolutely worth it in the end.

Two easy steps you can take to relieve back pain from sitting:

  1. Start paying attention to how you sit!  This means that during prolonged sitting periods, you must maintain the natural curvature of your lower back (back should be arched and the butt is sort of sticking out).  Keep to the above guidelines for proper sitting posture.
  2. Break up your long periods of sitting as it exceeds more than one hour.  It is important to note that these breaks should occur before any symptoms of pain start.  Do not wait until you are hurting to take a break because it will be too little, too late.  If you must, set a timer or use the alarm on your cell phone to alert you when it is time to stand up!

Tommy Hoffman, P.T. By Tommy Hoffman, Licensed Physical Therapist



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