As humans evolved we were primarily walking and running creatures. We didnt sit, we squatted. As such our spines are designed to be active and to move. Our spines certainly weren’t designed to be static for long periods and they really werent designed to sit much at all.
So it is no surprise that in the clinic we nearly always have to manage seating choices and sitting postures if we are going to have a successful outcome. This is particularly true in chronic back pain treatment.
Here is a summary of the most common ways you can reduce pressure on your low back due to sitting
- Dont sit! That sounds both too simplistic, too unreasonable and completely impractical. But stop and think a moment – there are genuine alternatives to prolonged sitting. Standing desks and walking desks are becoming more commonplace and more affordable. And as more administrative/office jobs are now being done from home it is also very easy to spend some of the working day lying prone on your tummy, propped up on your elbows and with a couple of pillows under your chest.
- Use a seat that allows your knees to drop below the level of your hips. With your knees and hips at the same level it is difficult to sustain good low back posture for any length of time. As soon as you drop your knees below hip height the mechanics of the low back change and good posture is easier to sustain. Types of seats that are designed specifically for this purpose include kneeling chairs, saddle seats and some well designed office chairs that allow the seat to be tilted downwards at the front.
- Make simple adjustments to your existing lousy chair. The two simplest options are a) to place a sitting wedge on the chair seat – this raises your bum and drops your knees below hip height, and b) to use a lumbar roll in your low back. Or better still do both.
And dont be fooled by the word ‘ergonomic’ when used to describe office chairs.
The final piece of advice is to be like our ancestors and move regularly. Even if you are at work in an office you can find lots of reasons to get up out of your seat on a regular basis. Going to the photocopier, walking to a colleagues desk instead of phoning them, be the coffee monitor and walk to the local cafe twice a day, walking at lunchtime, making and taking phone calls whilst strolling in the corridoor rather than sitting at your desk.
In the long run you are far better making some simple changes to your sitting habits than having to spend time and money seeing someone like me because you have developed a disc bulge in your low back.
Get back pain relief Sydney! – Look at your chair and your sitting habits.