Prevent Your Back Pain from Sitting: 3 Simple Tips

Prevent Your Back Pain from Sitting: 3 Simple Tips

You’ve probably seen the news — sitting is the new smoking. Sitting too long is increasingly cited as a health risk. And yet these days, we all spend more time sitting. A lot more time. We sit at our desks, at the kitchen table, on the couch, in the car, and on benches outside – it adds up to back pain.

How often do you notice that after sitting for a while, your back hurts? For most of us, it’s more often than we’d like. Sometimes we feel a twinge when we finally stand up, and sometimes we get a dull ache that lasts for hours or even days. Either way, it’s unwelcome.

But sitting isn’t something we can just stop entirely. So how do you prevent back pain from sitting?

Start with Three Simple Tips

Normal curves of the spine.
Image courtesy of Christian Dorn from Pixabay.

1. Sit like a carrot, not a banana.

It’s the mantra of my favorite physical therapist, and it means that you should sit with your back is straightened, not curved inward. Your back comes with built-in curves that help you stand, lift, walk, and move. Sitting “like a banana” works against your body’s design.

When we sit curved “forward” — especially for extended periods of time — we stress our muscles and often end up in pain. Sitting “like a carrot” is an easy and cost-free way to help prevent back pain from sitting.

2. Get up and move.

You should get up and move at least once every hour — and more often is definitely better. Stand up, walk around for a minute or stretch. That is, put your palms flat on your bum and bend backward gently. Basically, you are reversing the bad forward posture you’ve maintained while sitting. (If this stretch causes pain – stop!)

And getting up and moving is especially important when you sit while driving. It’s always tempting to skip the stops and push on through, but stopping matters. Long drives (even for just two hours) are responsible for lots of back pain. Taking a few extra minutes for pit stops is another easy, free way to prevent back pain from sitting.

What should your ergonomic chair look like?
Image courtesy of Oladimeji Ajegbile from Pexels.

3. Invest in a better chair.

Ergonomic or track desk chairs are designed to conform to your back’s natural contours. They provide support just where you need it. That support doesn’t mean you can sit for hours on end, but it will help reduce strain on your back.

The chairs aren’t inexpensive, but neither is managing chronic back pain. If you’re on a tight budget, you might try your local Habitat or University surplus store. They sometimes have used ergonomic desk chairs. Look for a chair that’s adjustable, with good support for your lower back.

You can get more information online on how to correctly size a chair, and how the different brands stack up.

You Can Prevent Your Back Pain from Sitting

As we head into winter, the holiday season and more remote work, our sedentary habits could easily mean more back pain. But some of that pain may be avoidable. Try these simple tips to prevent back pain from sitting, and let us know what you think. Could they help your daily routines?

Looking for more health tips? Try our recommendations for healthy outdoor exercise, winter hikes and staying warm outside this winter.