poor posture and back pain 

Sitting Is The New Smoking, How Your Chiro Or Physio Can Help You Sit More Comfortably

We spend so much of our days sitting. Sitting at a computer. Sitting while driving. Sitting watching television. Sitting to eat our dinner.

Mechanically, our bodies are not meant to sit for long periods. We are made to be on our feet, moving and walking. That is why you are able to travel and walk long distances much like our early explorers and today’s marathon runners. Your body and joints are designed to move and it feels good to move.

Beth’s Story

Beth is an accountant who was right in the middle of tax season. This meant she was spending countless hours working at her computer. After a couple weeks, she started having trouble sitting for more than 20 minutes before her back started to get sore.

Even with taking more frequent breaks, Beth was not able to shake her back pains. Finally, she decided to visit her chiropractor. She was given advice on how to set up her desk properly and stretches to target areas that had tightened up. She received adjustments to her lower back.

After a few visits, she started feeling better and was able to finish her work and help her clients with their taxes.

Nowadays, many upper and lower back problems can be partially blamed on long hours spent sitting on our seats. Let us start from the top.

physiotherapist neck therapy

Upper Cross Syndrome

When you sit and work at a computer for example, many of us find ourselves reaching out to our keyboards and mice, looking down at our screens, leaning forward with our head as we type.

This type of posture often leads to what is commonly referred to as, “Upper Cross Syndrome”. This can lead to neck, shoulder and upper back pain. Sometimes, this can also lead to headaches and pins and needles going down your arms.

Shortened, tight muscles
In this posture, the joints in the back of your neck get overloaded with compression stress. Neck and upper body muscles that get tight and shorten include your:

  • Pecs
  • Suboccipitals, or the muscles at the base of your skull on either side.
  • Upper traps

Stretched out and weakened
Not only that but as those muslces tighten, other muscles will become stretched and weak:

  • Deep neck flexors
  • Middle traps
  • Rhomboids
back pain physio treatment

Lower Cross Syndrome

The next problem that can come from sitting is lower back pain. As there is an “Upper Cross Syndrome” for your upper back, there is also a “Lower Cross Syndrome” for your lower back. When you sit for long periods, muscles that are shortened become tighter, and muscles that have been stretched out for too long become weaker.

In the case of sitting, your:

  • Abdominal muscles
  • Hamstrings
  • Hip flexors

are often the muscles which become shortened and tight, whereas your:

  • Gluts
  • Lower back muscles
  • Quads

do the opposite and become stretched out and weak. This imbalance can put further strain on your lower joints and spine, leading to lower back discomfort.

chiro treatment for back pain

Discs

Another issue is with your discs. Your discs are the soft squishy structures that sit between your spinal bones or vertebrae and help your body absorb pressure and external forces. When you sit, this position places more stress on your discs than if you were to stand or lay down.

There is roughly 5x more pressure on your discs when you are sitting than laying down, and 40% more than when you are standing. If you bend forward while sitting this increases the pressure on your discs to 85% more than if you were standing upright.

… walked out feeling relief …

I walked in with a super sore back and walked out feeling relief, thank you

– Lynn, Google Review

how to sit with better posture

A Better Way Of Sitting

There is nothing wrong with sitting for short periods with proper support and posture. If you do sit for long periods, here are a couple suggestions to help ease the pressure on your body:

  • Make sure that you have good posture even when sitting
  • Avoid leaning forward in your chair
  • Keep your joints close to a 90o bend (ie. elbows, knees, hips)
  • Scoot your bum right to the back of your chair and lean back
  • Avoiding having any gap between your chair back and your bum. Ideally, you want to have a slight lean backwards with your backrest
  • If your chair is too deep or you find your feet dangling off the edge, place a cushion behind your back or use a footrest
  • If your chair includes a lumbar support, make use of it
  • Consider using a sit-stand desk

Another good idea is to take regular mini breaks to help reduce the pressure building up in your back. Get up and move around every half hour or at least every hour

Learn How To Sit Properly

If you need help setting up your work or study area, speak with your chiropractor or physiotherapist. They can help you ease you shoulder and back pains, and give you tips on exercises and ergonomics.

Visit Your Chiro or Physio

FAQ

Q: Why does my back hurt when sitting?

A: When you sit for awhile, some of your muscles start tightening up and getting shorter. The discs in your lower back have been under load for awhile now. The lack of movement means the natural lubricating of your joints through movement is not taking place

Q: How can I prevent back pain when sitting?

A:Avoid leaning forward as you work. Lean up again the back of your chair. Have you screen set at eye level. Take breaks every 30 minutes to get up and walk around

Q: Why do I have back pain while sitting but not standing?

A: Different postures put stress on different parts of your body. When you are sitting, things such as your discs are under load or pressure. When you are standing, the pressue on your discs is less and the movement of walking helps keep your joints mobile and lubricated

Results will of course vary from person to person