Lower Back Pain When Sitting - Why You Get It & How To Fix It
Sitting down may seem like a fairly harmless activity, but did you know that it can be a major cause of lower back pain?
You've probably heard the phrase 'sitting is the new smoking' in the news over the past few years.
This is because research has found that people who live sedentary lifestyles and sit down for a few hours each day suffer from many health issues as a result.
And that some of these issues are so serious, they actually make sitting more dangerous for your long-term health than smoking!
Now I'm not sure I'd go as for as that, but there's no doubt that sitting can have some really negative effects on your health.
And a big one is the development of lower back pain.
As the pressure on your body from sitting aligned with the weakening of your core muscles and spinal discs lead to a lack of support for your back and put it under increasing strain.
So, if you work in an office and have to spend a few hours each day sat behind a desk, then you are at risk.
As those few hours sat at your computer or doing paperwork can take a massive toll on your back if you're not careful.
Why Is Sitting So Damaging For Your Back?
Our bodies are designed to move, so we need to move around to keep our muscles, organs, and joints healthy.
However, when you are sat down your body is inactive, and as such it can lead to a deterioration that results in lower back pain.
But what is it exactly that makes sitting for an extended period of time like office workers have to do so dangerous for their backs?
Well it basically boils down to three factors:
So let's go through these one by one.
Compressed Vertebrae = Weakened Spinal Discs
In between each vertebrae of your spine you have a spinal disc which helps to keep your back healthy.
And they do so in 3 ways:
So as you can see these discs are pretty important!
But to stay healthy they need you to move.
As when you do this they can expand and contract, which allows them to take in the blood, oxygen, and nutrients they need.
However, the problem is when you are sat down these discs become compressed.
And when they are compressed and squeezed in this way they can't take in any of these oxygen and nutrients, so they begin to deteriorate.
Which is a massive problem for your back.
As it leads to less flexibility in your spine, less shock absorbing protection as you move about, and more pain and discomfort.
And a weakening of the spinal discs can even result in herniations and disc degenerative disease in more serious cases.
Weakened Core Muscles = Less Support For Your Spine
Certain muscles in your body play a vital role in keeping your back strong and supported.
As your back relies on your core, abdominal, groin, glutes, and hamstring muscles to help it manage it's daily workload.
So to maximise this support you need to keep these muscles strong, flexible, and loose.
And to do this you need to remain active and be moving around.
Unfortunately, sitting down in the same position for hours on end will have the opposite effect.
As this will cause your muscles to weaken and stiffen up, which will mean less support and more pressure being placed on your lower back.
This can also cause muscle imbalances to develop in your body, which can give you posture problems and pile even more pressure onto your back.
And leave you in even more pain!
Sitting With An Unhealthy Posture = More Pressure On Your Back
Speaking of posture problems, many of us get into bad habits when sitting and do so with an unhealthy posture.
So whether you're lounging on the couch or slouching in your office chair, this can be disastrous for your back.
Because it adds pressure and strain onto your body which is the last thing you need!
In fact, poor posture itself is a very common cause of lower back pain.
And it's not just your lower back that will feel the struggle from sitting with a bad posture.
As this will also likely lead to pain in your neck, shoulders, and upper back too.
So rather than slouching and sitting with an unhealthy 'C' curve in your spine, aim to sit with a more healthy and natural 'S' curve instead.
Further Dangers Of Sitting For Extended Periods
Unfortunately the bad news from sitting doesn't end with back pain.
As sitting down for extended periods can cause many more health problems over time than just a bad back.
For instance it can also lead to:
So as you can see, there is some seriously scary stuff on that list.
However, most of the more serious issues develop after years or decades spent sitting in a chair for 6 hours or more each day.
But it's still important that you learn how to counteract the effects from sitting and make sure they don't happen to you.
So How Can You Sit Without Getting Back Pain?
Ok, it's all well and good me telling you the pitfalls of sitting and how bad it can be for your back and health in general.
But what can you do to stop it?
The answer may seem to be a simple one: Get off your backside and stop sitting down so much!
But for some of us having to sit down regularly may be unavoidable due to our jobs.
However, if this rings true for you don't panic!
Because there are things you can do to keep your back healthy while sitting at work such as:
All of these will lead to an improvement and keep your back happier.
I hope this article has given you new found respect for office workers and you now see them for the lower back pain warriors that they are!
Because sitting all day is a tough gig.
As not only can it cause you to get back, neck, and shoulder pain, it can also lead to far more serious problems such as cardiovascular disease.
However, by getting into some good habits as you sit you can protect yourself against this evil.
And hopefully make back pain when sitting a thing of the past.
Resources used in researching this article: