Today’s Americans are sitting for extended periods of time, often hunched over while looking at a computer screen. Back pain is no longer something that is akin to being old. More and more of our younger population are seeking help for back pain. Sitting in front of a computer for extended periods of time is a significant contributor to the increased prevalence of back pain in our country. And while most of us are unable to change our careers to soothe our backs, a solution is a necessity.
If you sit incorrectly, stress is placed on your spine, creating pain throughout the lower back. Most people sit with a “C” shape to their back and shoulders. The pelvis is tucked, and the shoulders are rounded. Over time, this can degenerate the intervertebral discs in the spine, which absorb shock. Sitting incorrectly places uneven pressure on the spinal discs causing them to bulge, hit a nerve or even rupture.
How to Sit Properly to Prevent Back Pain
Instead of rounding your back when you sit, make a conscious effort to sit the correct way. The proper way to sit is like an “I” shape, with the pelvis, shoulders, and head stacked.
Step 1: As you back into your chair, bend at the hips – not at the waist. This causes your bottom to stick out behind your spine and does not create a curve in the back.
Step 2: Sit down. Relax the chest and shoulders. Avoid sticking out the chest and instead allow them to fall into a stacked position with the pelvis. Both feet should be on the floor with knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
By sitting in the correct position, the muscles in the legs can relax, and you place less stress on the spine. It can take a lot of practice to sit correctly, but try to make an effort each day to sit down mindfully. Your back will thank you.
If you have questions about posture, back pain or physical therapy, contact one of our three Central Oregon locations for an appointment.
You can find an excellent article on bending correctly (hip hinging) here.