Sitting at work every day and experiencing lower back pain? The following list outlines exactly what happens to your lower back with sitting, and what you can do about it.
1. During sitting, most people will eventually fall into a posterior pelvic tilt (as shown below).
What to do? Take a look at how your hips and knees line up while you are seated. Your hips should ideally be slightly higher than your knees with both of your feet firmly touching the ground or a level surface. If your knees and hips are level, raise your seat up slightly, bringing your hips higher than your knees. This can help to lessen the amount of posterior tilt of your pelvis.
2. Prolonged sitting forces the vertebrae of the lower back to remain in an “opened” position.
The vertebrae of the lower back should naturally “open” when we flex forward, but the spine does not appreciate staying in a flexed position for long periods of time. Realize that form does follow function: the longer that one sits with the vertebrae in “opened” positions, the harder it becomes for those joints to comfortably close.
What to do? You can teach yourself how to open and close the vertebral joints by performing “pelvic clock” exercises. (video below).
The great thing about performing the pelvic clock is that it can be performed on the ground, standing, or seated. You can even teach yourself to “clean your clock” while driving your car!
3. Prolonged sitting creates muscle imbalance largely through the weakening of the buttock muscles.
What to do? If you sit all day, make it a priority to perform strengthening exercises to strengthen your buttock muscles. There are many ways to do this. The most simple buttock exercise which can be done at work is as follows: Stand up and turn both of your feet outwards, then forcibly clench your buttocks for five seconds. Repeat ten times.
“Sitting All Day & Experiencing Lower Back Pain?
” ended up being a truly pleasant blog post, .
Continue writing and I will keep on reading! Thanks for the post -Orlando
Dan Baumstark, MSPT, CHT says
Thanks Orlando, we’ll keep them coming.
Great post. I send 8 hours a day in a computer chair. This was great info, I’m going to do these stretches plus the foam roller on my spine.
George Martakos says
I’m a 64 y.o. male and have been out of work since 10/1/13 due to back issues. I do have severe arthritis of the spine (had very intense sciatica episode 11 years ago and was told then about the arthritis being ‘severe’ and could lead to problems down the road). Over the summer of 2013, I had substantial increasing of pain in my lower back, buttocks, left calf and toes. Bottom line, my nerves were ‘compressed’ in my spine due to not enough room on one side (left) and plenty of room on the right side. I had 2 spine surgeries. The 1st one was more of a ‘band aid’ to space two bones that were touching and squashing the nerve to my left side. That only last about a month and a half. They kept giving me steroid injections, which wasn’t lasting. Finally got a 2nd opinion from a neurologist (first surgeon was an orthopedic surgeon). The 2nd surgeon went over my 2 MRI’s with me and simply stated that my ‘Spine is a mess’, but he can help. In the ‘critical areas’, what he would do is ‘open’ up space between the bones by filing back some of the bone, upper and lower, making more room for the nerves and not using any hardware. Hardware was used in the 1st surgery and fell out of place. My job as sitting all day at a computer in a call center doing IT support. We actually used 2 monitors. There were many days breaks were ‘pushed out’, as well as lunches, due to call volumes; I had a few days I never got a break OR A LUNCH! I went to my Primary Care and he and the other Dr’s. all agreed that I CANNOT sit for extended periods anymore due to the condition of my back. Stand up desk wouldn’t work, I can’t move that quick, and cannot loose my place on the computer screen when speaking with a customer. Also, until I’m done with Physical Therapy, I cannot put weight on my left leg. In PT, we are doing that gradually because for the last 4-5 years, my right side of the body has been working overtime to compensate for the left side that literally could not carry my weight. I am not a big person, 5’8, 140 #’s. I had applied for SSDI in FEB 2014 and took an early retirement while I’m waiting for a court date. I’ve looked and looked for something I might be able to do that’s in line with my work history and everything leads right back to extended desk time. I apologize, I know this is long. Have other individuals had similar experiences, to your knowledge? Thank you.
Dan Baumstark, MSPT, CHT says
George standing is overall better for your back than sitting. I bet that you could train yourself to at least do some of your work standing. You might be able to build up your standing tolerance over time?
There is a great product out there now called a “varidesk” that allows you to either sit or stand while working. We just uploaded it to our “products” page this week (on our homepage). Take a look and see what you think.
I would also recommend that you find the best PT that you can in your area and get an idea if there is anything that can be done strengthening wise to help. Your back is very complicated, you need a thorough evaluation.