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What’s the right way to sit when your back is hurting?

Mmmm… maybe not.

The health world seems to be obsessed with sitting right now with many people blaming it for a multitude of health woes and some even comparing its dangers to that of smoking. I doubt that sitting is that bad but I think it’s safe to blame at least some aches and pains on prolonged sitting. And I’m sure you are well aware that certain positions definitely hurt your back more.

So what’s the right way to sit at work?

As with all musculoskeletal conditions, everyone’s unique problem is a little different and what works for some may not work for all, but there are some things I can suggest for most of you.

A lot of people with back pain tend to be flexion-intolerant. That is, their symptoms get worse when they bend forward (flexion). So avoiding a prolonged flexed position may be helpful for reducing or preventing the onset of symptoms.

The problem is the way that most of sit is slouched in a chair, basically placing our whole spine in flexion. To counteract this, do the following:

  1. Sit with you butt all the way back in your chair.
  2. Place a lumbar roll at approx. your beltline. You can adjust it as necessary for comfort, though try not to put it too high up. This is the thing that will keep your low back out of flexion. You can buy a lumbar roll or make your own with a towel tightly-rolled into 4-6” diameter.
  3. Lastly, use your backrest.

Here is a video demonstrating the same thing:

This setup takes your low back out of flexion and give it its natural curve (called a lordosis). Using your backrest maintains this curve and it allows your back, abdominal, and hip flexor muscles to relax.

Take heed: this sitting position is meant to ease back pain while you’re sitting, but the best option for you is to take frequent short breaks from sitting in order to stand and move your back around gently. This improves circulation, moves all the little nerves around, and prevents the buildup of any sorts of stresses that may aggravate your back.

Lastly, it is safe to sit in any position that is comfortable for you. While sitting as I have described tends to be most comfortable, remaining in that position all day is also likely to be painful. That’s why I recommend trying all sorts of seated positions and changing them frequently.

The best posture is the next posture.

Suffering from back pain at work? Help yourself to some useful tips. Click the pic to be taken to a page where you can download our free tip report with ways to ease back pain.