How To Sit With Lower Back Pain
Trying to find a comfortable position when you have lower back pain can be a challenge. As you face the day, knowing you need to sit at your desk can make it even worse. Sometimes, just trying to find a way to sit with lower back pain and be comfortable sitting on the couch can be hard. So, let’s take a look at some tips to make it easier to deal with your pain.
Should You Sit Up Straight?
When you sit with lower back pain, the angles make a difference. So, watch how your back compares to your knees, as compared to the floor. If you sit at the wrong angle, your lower back pain will not decrease, and it may even increase. Sitting right doesn’t cure back pain, but it does support the healing process.
You’ve probably been told that you need to sit up straight to help reduce your back pain. But that’s wrong. (Yippee!) Sitting is not standing, so although it’s good to stand up straight, it’s actually better to lean back a bit when you sit. So, there’s a reason you feel better in your La-Z-Boy as you recline. When you lean back, you take the pressure off your spine, which in turn reduces pain.
You’ve possibly noticed, though, that leaning too far back, or lying down, doesn’t help as much as just sitting back a bit. Straight up is a 90-degree angle, so you want to lean back to at least 100 degrees, but 135 degrees is where most people are most comfortable.
Super straight-backed chairs, or back rests, make slouching more likely. And slouching is bad for back pain. As you slouch or hunch, the weight on the back muscles increases, which puts more pressure on your spine and can even pinch your nerves.
But sitting on this angle is not so easy if you’re working at a desk. But when you get a break, lean back for a few minutes.
Tips for How To Sit With Lower Back Pain
The angle of your lower body makes a difference in how much pressure is on your spine. But there are other things you can do, even if you can’t lean back every minute.
Lumbar Support – The need for lumbar support is not universal. But if you need to use lumbar support to keep the muscles in your lower back in their natural curve, you can reduce the risk of pressure building up against your spine. Check your chair to see if you need more lumbar support by:
- Sitting down and pressing your hips on the chairback
- Slide your hand between your back and the chair
- If your lower back is curved forward and doesn’t press up against the chair, you need more lumbar support
Add lumbar support with a rolled-up towel until you can get an ergonomic support device specifically designed for your chair.
Crossing Your Legs – Crossing your legs changes the alignment of your lower back. This can make the pain worse. If you have sciatica, crossing your legs is an absolute no-no.
Bend Your Knees at 90 Degrees – Your knees and thighs should be square to each other when you sit down. If you tuck your feet under you or kick your feet out in front, it changes the alignment in your lower back and shifts your center of balance. Your muscles have to work harder, getting fatigued and sore.
Keep Your Feet on the Floor – Now that your knees are bent at 90 degrees, you should have your feet planted firmly in front of you on the floor. If you can’t reach, get a footrest. This keeps your body in a neutral position, making it less likely your muscles will hurt.
How to Manage Your Day with Lower Back Pain
Your day begins as you start by sitting up from laying down. A few wrong moves, and you can increase your back pain for the whole day! To get out of bed, start by rolling onto your side before sitting up from laying down. Throw your legs over the side of the bed and use your arms to help you sit up. Then, you’re ready for the day.
If you’re coping with pain of any sort, you may tend to hesitate to move about much. Somehow, our brains tell us that if we just hold still, it won’t hurt anymore. Nothing could be further from the truth!
So, as you go through your day, make sure you get up and move about regularly. If you sit still all day, you’ll feel stiff and sore, with increased inflammation, by the end of the day. When you have lower back pain, your body is probably not exactly aligned right, so as you sit still, you actually overwork some muscles and underwork others. Stand up and walk a bit or do some stretches a little, at least hourly. Set an alarm on your phone.
Align your computer with your gaze so you aren’t looking up or down at the screen. Have someone take a picture of you from the side as you work to see the angles. Ergonomic office equipment like chairs, desks, keyboard trays, and more help correct your posture as you work and keep your body properly aligned.
Ask your physical therapist at Physical Therapy Advantage to give you some daily exercises and stretches you can do to reduce your pain and strengthen your lower back. Spend time daily dedicating yourself to feeling better.
How to Recognize a Chair that Helps Lower Back Pain
There are a lot of fancy (and expensive!) chairs out there that call themselves “ergonomic.” Most are, but when choosing the right chair could impact your lower back pain, you want to get the right one. So, how do you know which chair has the features you need?
Here are some features to look for in a supportive chair for lower back pain:
- Height – The height of a good chair for lower back pain must adjust so you can rest your feet firmly on the ground when your knees bend at a 90 degree angle
- Armrests – Once you adjust the height of the chair, you’ll need to adjust the armrests so your arms stay close enough to your body that your shoulders can relax and your elbows can bend at 90 degrees
- Seat – Check the depth and width of the chair, so you have support for your thighs. Sit back to confirm the space between your knees and the chair is about two inches
- Lumbar Support – Your lower back naturally curves, so you need extra support for protection from stress and strain. Look for extra padding in the lumbar region
- Padding – Check for lots of comfy padding around pressure point areas to reduce compression on your body which alleviates nerve and joint pain
Ergonomic chairs often have many adjustable features to fit you. But check to make sure because a comfortable chair can make a significant contribution to cure back pain.
Contact Physical Therapy Advantage for a comprehensive assessment if you have lower back pain. We’ll develop a treatment plan to get you some back pain relief.