Struggling with lower back pain? Have a difficult time moving around and working on the computer? You're not alone.
A staggering 80% of Americans will experience this problem at some point in life. Back pain is a leading cause of disability and one of the most common reasons for missed work. If left unaddressed, it may become chronic and lead to disabilities.
Finding the best sitting position for lower back pain is a challenge in itself. You may find yourself struggling with pain and aches after just a few minutes of office work. When you stand up, your back may feel stiff and sore.
You already know that prolonged sitting affects the spine, joints, and muscles, but you still need to work. It's not like you can get up and go out for a walk every time your back starts to hurt.
The only way to overcome these problems is to change your sitting position and make small adjustments to your routine.
Not sure where to start? Here are some tips to help you sit comfortably with lower back pain and prevent it from getting worse!
Why Sitting Is Bad for Your Back
The average American adult spends about 6.4 hours per day sitting. This habit does more just add inches to your waistline. It may also contribute to the onset of diabetes, heart disease, and premature death.
Prolonged sitting is bad for your spine and joints, too. After all, there's a reason why office workers complain about neck and back pain, wrist pain, and muscle soreness.
The human body is meant to stand and move. Sitting causes the vertebrae to compress, leading to back pain. It also puts pressure on the nerves and muscles, leaving your back sore and stiff.
Too much sitting may also cause muscle contractures in the neck and back. This condition is due to the shortening and hardening of your muscles. Over time, it can lead to severe pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility.
Surprisingly, sitting puts more pressure on your discs than standing. If you already have a herniated disc, your symptoms could get a lot worse after spending hours on a chair. The pain and discomfort associated with prolonged sitting can be debilitating for those with sciatica, lumbar stenosis, and other back problems.
The general recommendation is to sit for no longer than 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Unfortunately, that's not always an option. You can't tell your boss that you must take a walk every 15 minutes because your back hurts.
This doesn't you have to quit your job, though. You just need to make some lifestyle changes and find the best sitting position for lower back pain. Try the following strategies to get relief and keep your spine healthy!
Observe and Improve Your Posture
Poor posture is often to blame for neck and back pain. It can also affect digestion, breathing, flexibility, and muscle function. In the long run, it may increase your risk of back injuries and joint problems.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine recommends being mindful of your posture at all times, whether you're walking, sitting, or doing house chores. Keep these tips in mind when working at your desk:
- Keep your back straight and your elbows close to your body and bent between 90 and 120 degrees
- Use a back cushion that molds to your lower back's curve
- Position your computer screen at eye level
- Relax your shoulders and pull the shoulders blades back
- Avoid leaning forward from your lower back
- Refrain from crossing your legs
- Keep both feet flat on the floor or use a footrest
- Keep your phone, coffee mug, and other items you use regularly within arm's reach
- Make sure your knees are bent at 90 degrees
- Don't hunch over your laptop or tablet
- Avoid poking your chin
- Turn your whole body instead of twisting at the waist while sitting
- Change your position every 30 minutes or so
Try to keep your core braced while sitting to stabilize your trunk. Think of your deep core muscles as an inner corset that supports your back.
Build Core Strength
Speaking of core strength, how often do you work your deep abdominal muscles?
A strong core is essential for preventing back pain. When your back is challenged, you can activate your core muscles to take some of the pressure off your spine.
Core work should be an integral part of your daily routine. Take a few minutes every day to do planks, leg raises, and other core exercises. Here are some simple movements you can try right now:
- Standard planks
- Side planks
- Bicycle crunches
- Alternating superman
- The hundred
- Ab wheel rollouts
- Stomach vacuum
Perform at least two core exercises before heading to work or when you get back home. You can even do it in your lunch break if you have enough space (and privacy).
The plank, for example, activates the deep core muscles, including the transversus abdominis. Working these muscles helps maintain strength in the rest of your back and may prevent injuries.
This isometric movement can also improve your posture, which in turn may prevent and reduce back pain. Plus, it strengthens the muscles surrounding your spine.
Some core exercises, such as the vacuum, can be performed from a standing or seated position. Simply follow these steps:
- Sit down with your back straight. Keep your shoulders relaxed.
- Place one hand on the stomach and the other hand on your lower back.
- Take a deep breath for three to four seconds.
- Exhale while bringing your belly in. Hold at least 20 seconds.
- Inhale and start all over.
When combined with a balanced diet, this exercise may also help slim down your waist. Plus, it's a great way to relax your mind and calm down when you're feeling stressed.
Support Your Back
Switching to an ergonomic chair won't necessarily offer relief for lower back pain. Some chairs come with a small back pillow, but that's not enough to eliminate aches. It could actually make things worse!
What you need is a memory foam back cushion that molds to your spine. Lumbar support cushions are ergonomic and may reduce the strain on your muscles and lower back.
In a clinical trial, men who used a lumbar support pillow for just 30 minutes while sitting in an office chair reported greater comfort than those who didn't use one. As the researchers note, lumbar support pillows increase or preserve the natural lumbar lordosis, which may help ease back pain.
Another study assessed the effectiveness of lumbar support when used along with physical therapy for low back pain treatment.
Subjects who used a lumbar pillow experienced less back pain and improved range of motion in the lower back. These changes occurred in as little as two weeks.
Scientists point out that back support pillows maintain an appropriate lumbar curvature and help stabilize the spine. Over time, these accessories may help relieve back muscle spasms and decrease the pressure between discs. Furthermore, they may help prevent disc degeneration.
These products are more or less effective, depending on the brand. Our back cushions come with a seat cushion for maximum comfort. Both pillows are made from memory foam, so they mold perfectly to your body.
At Everlasting Comfort, we use the latest technology for lower back pain relief. Our products can significantly improve the symptoms associated with lumbar stenosis, herniated discs, and sciatica. Some have a compact design, which makes them ideal for travel.
Use a Memory Foam Seat
Lower back pain isn't the only side effect of prolonged sitting. This habit may also cause pain in the neck, shoulders, buttocks, and tailbone.
Coccyx pain, or tailbone pain, may occur when sitting on surfaces that are too hard or too soft. It tends to worsen when you lean back while sitting, as well as when you stand up from a seated posture.
This condition is five times more likely to affect women than men. Sometimes, it goes away on its own, but it may also become chronic and interfere with your daily activities.
Anything that puts pressure on the tailbone can worsen your pain. The seat of your chair is no exception. Luckily, there are ways to manage your symptoms and prevent complications.
One of the best strategies to manage tailbone pain is to use a coccyx seat cushion. Ideally, choose one with gel-infused memory foam for optimum comfort. Use it in your car or place it on your office chair.
Coccyx seat cushions also make it easier to maintain good posture and may help with sciatica pain. If you travel a lot, look for a compact model to save space in your luggage.
Stretch Your Lower Back
Lumbar support pillows and coccyx seat cushions work wonders for those with lower back pain. Even so, you still need to stay active and commit to regular exercise.
Make a habit out of stretching your back every few hours, especially after sitting for a long time. As discussed earlier, sitting compresses the discs of the lumbar spine, which can trigger or worsen back pain.
Try the child's pose, for instance. This basic movement stretches the lower back while calming your mind and body. Here's how to do it properly:
- Sit on all fours and spread your knees at your sides. Your big toes should be touching each other.
- Lower your hips toward the heels and extend your arms in front of you.
- Place your forehead on the mat and relax.
- Inhale and exhale slowly.
- Maintain this position for as long as you want.
- Bring your palms under your shoulders and straighten your back with a slow, controlled motion to return to the starting position.
The knee-to-chest stretch is just as effective.
Simply lie on your back with your knees bent. Use your hands to bring one knee at a time to your chest. Hold it there for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
If you do it right, you should feel a stretch in the lumbar area.
Your stretching routine may also include the downward-facing dog, the piriformis stretch, and pelvic tilts. Perform these movements on a daily basis to fully reap the benefits.
Should You Wear a Lumbar Back Brace?
Lumbar back braces are designed to stabilize the spine and reduce muscle tension. Depending on the cause of pain, they may also speed up healing from back injuries.
These accessories may improve mobility and reduce friction between the discs. At the same time, they reduce spinal pressure and limit painful movements that can worsen your symptoms.
The question is, do you really need one?
It depends on your condition. While some people swear by back braces for pain relief, these products may not work for everyone. If you only have occasional pain, you probably don't need a lumbar back brace.
It's important to understand that back braces only provide temporary relief. They are not meant as a long-term solution to lower back pain. What matters most is your posture and lifestyle habits.
Find the Best Sitting Position for Lower Back Pain
As you see, there's no one-size-fits-all approach to back pain. From your posture to your training routine, every detail matters.
If you have trouble finding the best sitting position for lower back pain, consider using lumbar support pillows. With a quality model, you should get some relief within minutes.
Your best bet is to choose a memory foam back support cushion. See our selection of comfort products and pick one that suits your needs. Use it daily to keep your spine healthy and mitigate the health risks of prolonged sitting.