What’s the Best Way to Sit With Low Back Pain? | Physical Therapy for everyBODY
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What’s the Best Way to Sit With Low Back Pain?

Back Pain Sitting

What’s the Best Way to Sit With Low Back Pain?

Are you struggling to sit due to low back pain? Do you find yourself fidgeting in your seat while you are trying to get your work done? Well, then read on for our best tips on how to sit “properly” with low back pain – or even if you want to avoid low back pain.

So many of our patients come in with this question. They have read tons of advice on-line and tell us about all the things they have tried to sit correctly. And, none of them have relieved their low back pain. Or it’s hard to know if you are doing it correctly.

I created this simple technique because it is simple to do and it just makes sense. The additional bonus is that this technique will help you get in touch with your body and how it moves.

Why is it so Important to Sit Properly if You Have Low Back Pain?

When you are slouching regularly, you are putting increased stress on the joints and discs in your low back. The body is designed to stack up properly. When you are not doing this (or can’t because your back is not moving correctly!) the discs have too much stress on them. This causes the discs to break down and can lead to things like disc herniations or a “slipped disc”.

If you find yourself with low back pain or stiffness after sitting for a long period of time then you are probably suffering with this problem. This technique will help you to find the best position for your spine to decrease stress and keep those discs happy.

Are you ready to give it a try? Here we go!

Dr. Amy’s simple technique for finding proper sitting posture:

  • Start by sitting on a solid surface. Once you get used to this technique you can apply it to any surface but it’s best to start with a solid surface while you are learning.
  • Sit towards the front of the chair and don’t lean back on the backrest.
  • Place your feet on the floor hip width apart. Keep your knees hip width apart, as well. This will help you have the motion you need for the movement.
  • Place your hands gently on your knees. This helps to improve the movement through your spine.
  • Start by slouching as far down as possible. I know, I just said that slouching is not good for you but stick with me here for just a second.
  • Then roll up so you are sitting up as tall as possible. Really stick your sternum (chest) forward and squeeze your shoulder blades together. If this position causes pain, only go as far into this position as you can pain free.
  • Back to slouching.
  • Roll up to tall sitting.
  • Keep going in between these positions until you find the mid-point where your spine is stacked on top of itself, your shoulders are on top of your hips, and your head is resting in the middle. This is your neutral position.

When you find your own neutral position you should feel well balanced without pain. There should not be increased muscle activation. This position should feel like you could stay here all day without a struggle. This should be a position of comfort.

Now, if you need to stay in this position for a long period of time (ie: if you work at a computer) then you can use pillows or rolled up towels to help support your body in this position. Just make sure that you are not using the props to hold you in the wrong position. It’s best to have someone help adjust the pillows and rolled up towels until you get used to this position.

Here are a couple more tips if sitting increases your low back pain:

  • Avoid crossing your legs. This throws off your pelvic alignment which makes it impossible for your spine to stack up correctly.
  • Avoid having your legs straight out in front of you. This causes you to have increased lumbar flexion which is the same as slouching. It’s not good for the discs.
  • If possible, have your hips slightly higher than your knees. I know, you have always been told to have your hips and knees at 90 degrees. But, the truth is, having your hips slightly higher than 90 degrees actually helps to improve your spinal alignment and makes it easier to sit properly.
  • Avoid sitting for longer than an hour at a time. Even if you don’t have low back pain, prolonged sitting is not good for your low back. Get up every hour, walk around, drink some water, do some light stretches. Just get your body moving.

What if This Doesn’t Work?

Occasionally we find that people have so much pain that they are not able to even move their body into the correct position. If this is you, then we encourage you to sign up for a Free Discovery Visit. During this visit, we will listen to you talk about your low back pain and see if we are a good fit for what your body needs. This appointment is completely free with no obligation for you to continue with us. It is designed to give you a chance to get to meet us in person so you can make the best decision regarding getting help for your low back pain.

Because the tips included here should be available to everyone. This technique is very gentle and you should implement it into your regular routine. But, if this causes you increased pain then your situation has moved beyond finding answers on-line or through reading a blog post. And, you should get help before the situation progresses any further.

At Physical Therapy for everyBODY, we often see people who have had low back pain with sitting for years but have “managed” their symptoms on their own. UNTIL…until that one day when they go to plug in the vacuum and their back goes out, until that one day they go to pick up their child or grandchild and find themselves stuck, until that one day they are throwing a bag of trash into the garbage and have a shooting pain. Why not sign up for a Free Discovery Visit and get this problem solved before you have your “until” moment?


Dr. Amy Konvalin

Dr. Amy Konvalin

Struggling with pain and dysfunction can impact every part of our lives — it drains our energy, distracts us from our goals, and keeps us from the people and activities we love. As an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist, Dr. Amy Konvalin understands how frustrating those limitations can be — and she knows how to help get you back to the life you want to live! Beginning with a focused evaluation, Dr. Amy works to determine the root causes of your pain, as well as understanding how it affects the way you move through your world. Dysfunctional patterns of movement often grow worse with time and cause further damage if left untreated — so it’s important to address these issues as soon as possible. Dr. Amy knows there is no one-size-fits-all plan for success, and she partners with patients to identify their unique treatment goals and personal values. Using these goals as a guide, Amy uses her doctorate training in manual (hands-on) therapy and exercise prescription to treat patients with a wide variety of medical challenges and histories throughout the Maple Valley, Black Diamond and Covington areas. Dr. Amy is also a wife to a Boeing superstar/former C-130 navigator. While they lived in Germany, Dr. Amy was able to volunteer with the US Army to treat military personnel and civilians on base. She has two beautiful teenage ballerinas who keep her on her toes and educate her on all things ballet! Bailey, the princess pup, is her running partner and her napping partner. In the spare moments in between, Amy enjoys reading, yoga, wine with friends, Pilates, and walking on the beach.
Dr. Amy Konvalin

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