How to Sit with Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain makes concentrating, working, sleeping, and enjoying life harder. It can make sitting on the couch uncomfortable, too. While sitting the right way won’t cure back pain, it can help reduce inflammation and support healing.
First, talk to your physiotherapist at Concept of Movement in Barrie, ON, for a comprehensive assessment. Then, embark on a treatment plan to recover from your lower back pain.
In the meantime, you may have a job that requires you to sit all day. In fact, the average adult spends nearly 10 hours a day sitting! So, that can make your lower back pain more intense, especially if you have cut your exercise routine down because of the pain.
If you spend your work day sitting at a desk, you’re probably tired and have a sore back by the end of each day. The natural response to a hard day is sitting on the couch to relax. Add that to the time you spend sitting in the car, and you can see how it adds up to pretty much sitting all day.
But your body wasn’t designed to sit all day. When you sit too much, the strength in your bones and muscles reduces, which contributes to lower back pain.
Why Sitting Leads to Low Back Pain
Your spine provides your body with its central support for your weight, but you still need to be flexible and strong enough to bend, reach, and do everything that is not standing still. Your spine uses a unique structure to make it so you can move to do whatever you want. Your bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves all work together to handle each movement. But these structures tense up when you sit for so much of your day.
Movement helps maintain your spine’s flexibility so that during the day, the discs in your back don’t compress, which leads to pain. Plus, moving your spinal joints helps keep your body’s natural lubricant, synovial fluid, flowing.
The pain can begin in the morning as you are sitting up from laying down. Or you may wake up in pain. Yet, many people find their lower back pain worsens during the day, especially as they sit at a desk using a computer.
Sitting for Long Periods Contributes to Specific Problems
Lifestyles that include these long periods of sitting tend to support several problems. Here are a few.
- Gaining Weight – Every minute you sit, you are not standing or being otherwise more active. You could be actively exercising, but even just not sitting is more active. In the long run, sitting a lot in a sedentary lifestyle leads to gaining weight. Then carrying that extra weight, especially around your middle, strains the rest of your body, including your lower back.
- Pinched Nerves - Sitting for a long time can compress or pinch nerves, which leads to pain, numbness, and often tingling in various parts of your body. Left untreated, these compressed nerves may end up with permanent damage.
- Muscle Loss – Standing and moving about is normal for your body, so muscles prefer to stay in action most of the time. When you are not standing and moving, you don’t use those muscles enough, so they start to lose volume and shrink. Sitting all day limits blood flow to muscles in your legs, hips, and bottom. Then, your legs and back end up with less strength, so they have to work harder to support your weight, which leads to pain and muscle fatigue.
- Bad Posture – Most people sit and slouch or hunch while using a computer or sitting on the couch. This position increases stress on your neck, shoulders, and spine.
Fortunately, you can prevent these problems simply by sitting properly and taking regular breaks to stretch and move around.
How to Sit with Lower Back Pain
No matter how you sit, it won’t cure back pain, but it can worsen it. So, let’s look at some positions that can reduce your pain by lowering the pressure on your nerves and muscles in your lower back.
The aim is to find a position you can sit in as neutral a position as possible, especially when you are working at your desk. Specific neutral positions can lessen the pressure and lower the weight, so your lower back muscles get a break.
- Position 1 – Recline Back at Least 110 Degrees
Recline back in your chair to at least 110 degrees and keep your knees square at 90 degrees, keeping your feet flat on the floor. This changes the angle in your lower back to relax the muscles by lessening the work they do. On a break, recline further, and when you get home, sit in a recliner.
- Position 2 – Decline Forward
A declined position is essentially the opposite of a reclined position. You angle your body forward with your arms resting on your desk. Tuck your knees back to angle them down. You should feel your lower back falling back into the natural curve of your lumbar spine to reduce the fatigue and pressure.
- Position 3 – Supine
The supine position is when you are pretty much lying down almost horizontally. This is not really a position most people can manage if they work at an office. But if you work from home, you can set yourself up, so the majority of your body is supported by a mattress, couch, or floor. Specialized computer trays help keep your laptop in the right position so you can type and see the screen.
A supportive chair and good sitting positions can help reduce lower back pain. Look for an office chair that you can adjust the height and armrests. Make sure the depth works for you and that there is plenty of supportive padding.
Getting a supportive chair and sitting in neutral positions help reduce back pain. But it’s important to check in with your physiotherapist, too. They can assess what causes your lower back pain and how to relieve it.
When You Need Physiotherapy for Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is common enough that most people ignore it, at least at the beginning. If you had an event – an accident, fall, or sports injury – when you hurt your lower back, don’t ignore it. It may start out mild but can get worse over time if left untreated.
If your lower back pain creeps up on you from sitting too much and living a sedentary lifestyle, you have probably already ignored it for too long.
If you notice you have lower back pain every day, it is time to make an appointment with a physiotherapist at Concept of Movement in Barrie, ON. Early intervention means quicker results.
Plus, not all back pain is from sitting at your desk all day. There are other triggers for pain, so it’s important to have a comprehensive assessment. Based on that exam, your physiotherapist will design a customized treatment plan and give you targeted exercises to get you feeling better.
Don’t just accept back pain as a normal part of life! Contact us at Concept of Movement in Barrie, ON, and we’ll help you lessen your lower back pain, so you can sit more comfortably.