Does sitting position cause back pain? How to get relief?

Sitting for long hours in your chair, couch or bed and leading a sedentary lifestyle is a path towards shortening your life span.

Sitting for a long duration in one place and sitting in the wrong position can lead to various chronic diseases. 

It makes you feel old and weak even when you are young.

The studies have shown that 70% of the population spends 6-8 hours a day sitting.

Spending long hours on the desk stiffens the muscles and is painful for the back and neck.

The problems related to prolonged sitting can be prevented by learning and practising the correct way of sitting.

Can sitting cause back pain?

 “Bad sitting and bad back “

Yes sitting for a prolonged period and that too not following the correct posture definitely causes back pain.

How long do you sit in a chair and spend most of the time staying in the same posture?

If yes then it is important for you to know that spending life like this acts as a slow poison and deteriorates the health of a person.

It acts as a disease that impairs you to enjoy life. 

Most of the work environment in our surrounding demands us to sit for long hours.

The work environment, the lack of interest in leading a healthy lifestyle and lack of awareness of health risks contributes towards the chronic diseases that can affect the spine due to poor posture.

Pain in the back is very common and is one of the most common reasons for people to visit health care providers.

We cannot prevent ourselves from the workplace or from sitting in a chair.

But one can always adopt a correct sitting position as this will maintain a good posture and also promotes a healthy backbone. 

However, there are many who ignore the importance of a correct sitting posture and hence suffer from various problems linked to it.

Considering the common problem of back pain, in this article, we shall make an effort to cover all the possible causes and treatment related to spinal pain.

Different types of back pain due to a bad sitting posture

Poor body posture affects the nervous system, muscle strength and muscle fibres. The different types of back pain are-

1.Acute back pain occurs suddenly and lasts for less than a week.

2.Chronic back pain continues for more than a few weeks.

3.Radicular back pain occurs in the lower back. The pain is sharp and travels from far to the legs.

4.Axial back pain is the problem people think they have. This type of pain differs from person to person and does not radiate to the legs.

5.Referred back pain occurs due to problems in the region other than the backbone.

This information can help you explain to your healthcare provider the type of back pain you are suffering from

Causes of back pain

Any sort of problem in the muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones and vertebral disc caused due to any reason affects the function of the backbone.

The problem might arise due to medical conditions, poor posture or strain on the spinal cord or might occur due to advancing age.

But in the current scenario, the backbone is not just restricted to old age but affects 84% of the youths. 

Sitting diseases and their impact on your spine

It is a word used for metabolic syndromes and other causative factors that leads to a sedentary lifestyle.

According to the research in the coming years sitting disease will become a serious health problem. Before it becomes a public health concern it is recommended to manage the risk by taking regular breaks and looking for possible ways to work while standing.

Various sitting diseases that impact your spine are –

1.Strain

It is the most common reason for back pain. The root of the problem is due to contraction of the muscles, damage of vertebral discs, overexertion of the ligaments and injury to the back. Such problems might arise from lifting some heavy objects, making a sudden movement and lifting the things or standing abruptly. 

2.Medical problems

Sciatica involves the bulging of the nerves or the nerves may be compressed leading to a sharp pain that radiates from the gluteal region to the back of the leg. 

Herniated disc involves a problem in the disc between the two vertebrae of the spine.

It can occur in any disc between any two vertebrae but commonly affects the lower back.

Since the nerves are affected it might result in painful arms and legs along with back pain.

You might suffer from pain in the limbs, tingling sensation and weakness in the body. 

Muscle strain and sprain are common cause of low back pain.

It is common because the lower back supports the upper weight of the body and is responsible for twisting, bending and movement of the waist. 

Degenerative disc disease is a result of advancing age.

It happens due to the degeneration of one or more discs of the vertebrae.

The word disease is a misnomer as the problem comes with ageing and is not due to any pathological disorder.

Spinal stenosis as the name suggests is the narrowing of the space within the spine.

This causes pressed nerves and as a result, one experiences back pain with other symptoms.

Spinal stenosis usually occurs due to osteoarthritis of the spines.

The pain can occur in the neck or in the lower back depending on the nerves affected.

Arthritis involves painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints that affects the lower part of the back.

Other medical issues that cause back pain are infection in the spine, cancer of the spine, sleep disorders, shingles etc.

3.Non-medical issues 

Old age, sedentary lifestyle, pregnancy, overweight and obesity, smoking, genetic factors, excess physical work outdone in a wrong way and occupational sitting are the risk factors for developing pain in the lower region of the back.

The change in the level of the hormones and mental health issues such as anxiety, mood swings etc are also linked to back pain and lower back pain is more common in women.

4.When getting up from the chair

While in a sitting position the certain joints of the back are open and a little flexed. While standing up there is a compression in these joints.

If you are suffering from spinal arthritis then you feel the pain due to pressure on painful joints while standing up from the sitting position.

The other cause of lower back pain when standing up from sitting is spondylolisthesis.

The vertebrae move forward on another while sitting and as you stand up it comes back to position after a few seconds. This causes pain in the back which vanishes later.

5.Prolonged sitting and back pain

Sitting for a prolonged period of time reduces the height of intervertebral discs and is more significant in women when compared to men.

But it does not necessarily affect the generalised population.

After mentioning the different causative factors for lower back pain let us introduce you to how our sitting pattern in a daily routine can cause pain in the back.

Back pain due to a wrong sitting posture

The occupational low and upper back pain is common and preventable as it results from prolonged sitting, lack of different movements and also due to muscles affected as a result of a particular sitting posture.

How you sit, how long you sit and how frequently you variate the movement of the lower back determines the health of your spine. Knowing a correct sitting posture is the first preventive measure of low back pain. So let us learn the correct posture of sitting.

The sitting posture described here is for people who work extensively on the computer at a desk. Adopting the following method will help you to improve the sitting position of your body.

-Keep your feet flat on the floor or use a footrest. Avoid crossing your legs or ankles and keep the elbows parallel to the forearms.

-Place the monitor at an arm’s length.

-Keep your back straight and if there is a gap between your back and the chair use a cushion for the lower backrest.

-Get up and move around at a certain time interval. This prevents pain in muscles and joints.

Poor sitting posture can be corrected and so the lower and upper back pain. What it needs is time, commitment to sit correctly and awareness about the ideal way of sitting in a chair. 

Upper back pain when sitting

By now we all know that the wrong sitting posture causes pain in the upper and lower back.

Other causes of upper back pain may be the overuse of muscles, any sort of injury, herniated disc, compression of the nerves, osteoarthritis, lung cancer etc.

The sign and symptoms associated with poor posture are-

  1. Bent and round shoulders
  2. Pot shaped stomach
  3. Headache
  4. Back pain
  5. Feeling of tiredness
  6. The head leans forward or backwards
  7. Body pain

The importance of having a good posture

Having a good posture is beneficial in many ways.

  1. The bones and joints are aligned and it makes the use of the muscles properly.
  2. Prevents the abnormal shape of the spine.
  3. A good posture prevents the onset of arthritis and also keeps you away from back pain and muscular pain.
  4. It prevents strain on the spinal ligaments.
  5. Prevents weakness and tiredness because muscles are efficiently used and hence energy is saved.

Thus it is important to train your body for a better posture.

It will make you look great and also boosts your confidence.

Doesn’t it feel good to see someone sitting in a chair or walking with the correct posture?

If they can then why not you?

Treatment and preventive measures for back pain 

“Do not let the youth leave the body so manage and prevent the back pain.”

1.Medical treatment

The choice of treatment depends upon the type of back pain you are suffering from. 

Medical treatment includes-

Pain killers are easily available over the counter

Muscle relaxants

The use of gel, spray and patches lowers pain by applying it to skin

Antidepressants relieve chronic back pain.

Procedures done for back pain treatment are cortisone injections, implanted nerve stimulators, radiofrequency neurotomy and surgery.

All the mentioned medical treatment involves certain side effects if not used in a proper dose.

Hence it is always recommended to take the medicines with your doctor’s recommendation.

2.Preventive measures for back pain

We are aware of the medical conditions caused due to poor sitting posture hence we shall discuss some of the correct sitting positions for common causative factors of back pain.

The practice of correct sitting posture is the first step towards preventing back pain. 

But if you have come a long way with back pain then we shall discuss the sitting posture for low back pain and sciatica and hip pain.

Best sitting position for lower back pain

If you are suffering from low back pain due to a degenerative joint problem then placing a small cushion at the lower back helps in alleviating the pain as it maintains the back curve.

Best sitting posture for sciatica

Sit in a chair with feet on the floor or on the footrest. Keep your knees at a 90-degree angle from your trunk.

A small cushion behind the lower back and the back of a chair helps.

Best sitting posture for hip pain

To get relief from hip pain sit with your feet, pelvis and spine aligned in a straight line.

Avoid crossing the legs or leaning to one side.

3.Ayurvedic measure for back pain 

Ayurvedic treatment for back pain in Kerala has both a curative and preventive measure. Ayurvedic procedures such as panchakarma, abhyanga, pinda sweda etc with pure herbal medicines are very effective in managing the symptoms of back pain. It also prevents further degeneration of the bones and nerves.

4.Home remedies for lower back pain

Back pain can interfere with your daily routine. It might occur due to lifting a bucket of water or cleaning a house or doing any work that you usually do.

You never know when the problem might arise.

Whenever it does I am sure the following home remedies will work to give you relief from pain.

Don’t lead a sedentary lifestyle.

Keep moving even if there is a pain as it will keep the muscles around the spine strong and active. 

Maintaining a good posture eases the pressure on the lower back.

Do not slouch or move your head forward.

A little bit of stretching strengthens the muscles and supports your back.

Strong and flexible muscles help to relieve and prevent pain. 

Choose your food wisely and maintain a healthy weight.

Being overweight puts a load on your lower back. So eating healthy and working out in routine keeps your back healthy.

Visit a dietician

Visit a dietician to know the important foods that contain essential vitamins and minerals that can help in strengthening the nerves and muscles and are beneficial for bone health.

Use Ice packs and hot water bags

ice packs and hot water bags are useful in treating sudden back pain. 

Sleep Well

Get yourself enough sleep because disturbance in sleep acts as a trigger for back pain.

Common questions of the back pain sufferers

People with occupations that require sitting on the desk for 8- 9 hours a day must pay special attention and take good care of their back.

Most of us have tried sitting in the correct posture but soon it hurts to sit straight.

According to the survey, there are many queries related to back pain.

Here we shall cover some of the most common questions asked by patients suffering from back pain.

Is it bad if the back hurts from always sitting straight?

Sitting in the correct posture is good for your back.

But if you are trying to correct the posture after many years of slouching it will definitely hurt in the beginning because your muscles and spine are not used to it. So, it is not bad to sit straight even if it hurts as it takes time to develop a new habit.

How to sit for long hours without your back hurting?

Sitting continuously for long hours stiffens the muscles as a result you might feel weak and tired.

If your job demands sitting continuously for long hours then the first thing is to make sure to have a good chair and keep stretching and twisting your waist in a fixed interval. It can easily be done while seated.

How to train yourself to have a better posture?

With commitment, discipline and focus you can have a better posture.

Doing a certain kind of exercise that improves your spine and core along with sitting in a correct posture and intake of essential supplements can help you train yourself to have a better posture. 

What are the effective ways to turn good posture into less back pain or how to improve posture for a healthy back?

You can improve your posture and keep back pain at bay.

Picture yourself with your head straight and shoulder, back and knees aligned at 90 degrees with the floor.

Squeezing your shoulder backward for a few seconds and repeating it for 3-4 times improves the posture.

Stretch your upper body and do an arm across chest stretch. Practising these exercises daily can lessen back pain.

Conclusion

We can confidently conclude with the statement that sitting is actually a disease and adversely affects your spinal health.

Thus by knowing what a good sitting posture is and how sitting in a wrong manner can affect your overall health will certainly boost you to take a step in adopting the changes required for maintaining a perfect sitting posture.

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