Sitting is one of the main culprits in aggravating lower back pain, placing unnecessary pressure on your lower vertebrae, leading to many health problems. Luckily, the most common cause of this problem is sitting at a desk chair or spending many hours working while stuck at an office job.
By following this guide on what to do if you experience pain from sitting too long, you’ll learn how to both manage and prevent lower back pain while sitting.
What Causes Back Pain from Sitting at Your Desk?
Back pain is a common problem experienced by people who sit at their desks for extended periods. A combination of poor posture, lack of movement, and stress often causes this discomfort. Sitting for long hours without breaks puts significant pressure on the spine, causing muscles and ligaments to strain and tighten. Over time, this can lead to pain and discomfort in the lower and upper back, neck, and shoulders.
One of the primary causes of back pain from sitting at your desk is poor posture. Sitting in a slouched or hunched position puts additional pressure on the spine and can cause muscle imbalances that lead to pain. When seated correctly, the spine is in a neutral position, with the shoulders relaxed and the feet flat on the floor. Maintaining this posture can be challenging, especially when working long hours at a desk. However, practicing proper posture can help alleviate back pain and prevent it from recurring.
Another cause of back pain from sitting at your desk is a lack of movement. When sitting for prolonged periods, the muscles in the back and neck become stiff and may spasm. This can cause pain and discomfort, especially when attempting to move after being sedentary for an extended period.
How Do You Recognize Back Pain from Sitting?
Back pain from sitting is a common issue that affects people of all ages and lifestyles. The prolonged sitting posture puts pressure on the lower back muscles and can cause discomfort or pain. If you spend a significant amount of time sitting, it is essential to recognize the signs of back pain to prevent further damage.
One of the most noticeable signs of back pain from sitting is a dull ache or stiffness in the lower back. This pain is usually located in the lumbar area and can be felt on one or both sides. It is often worse after sitting for an extended period or when getting up from a sitting position.
Another sign of back pain from sitting is a sharp pain that shoots down the legs. This type of pain is known as sciatica and is caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve. It can be a severe condition and requires immediate medical attention.
If you experience numbness or tingling in the legs or feet, it could be a sign of back pain from sitting. This occurs when the nerves in the lower back are compressed, and the signals from the brain are disrupted. This can lead to a loss of sensation in the legs or feet. Poor posture is a significant contributor to back pain from sitting.
Back pain can keep you from sitting at your desk for too long. But conditions caused by an untreated ailment can make it hard to even get into a sitting position or worsen your pain. If any of the following are true, be sure to broach the subject with a neurologist or spine specialist:
Sciatica is a condition caused by compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the body. It runs from each side of the spinal column through the buttocks down to each of the legs, providing feeling through all parts below that specific point on either side. The pain would be felt as a radiating sensation from this spot up through to your lower extremities - affecting both sides of your body if experienced bilaterally.
Herniated discs are caused by gradual wear and tear on the back, which finally leads to a painful pinched nerve. Sitting is especially uncomfortable and can lead to decreased muscle strength and nerve damage.
Strained back muscles are the most common type of muscle strain and can lead to pain, swelling, and muscle spasms.
Spinal stenosis is an ailment that may be uncomfortable but also not serious and is more common in older adults. In short, this condition occurs over time when the organs in the lower part of your spinal cord grow too large and squeeze the nerves nearby with their growth.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Life without good cushioning between your vertebrae can ultimately lead to increased stiffness and pain in your lower back. In some cases, the inflammation may be severe enough to even cause sudden numbness while sitting or moving after being seated. This loss of flexibility is due to the gradual compression of disk material inside your intervertebral disk space, which can lead to a condition that involves the degeneration of this disk over time with age.
Poor Sitting Posture
Our sitting position has a tremendous physical effect on our health. If we’re in the same position for several hours at a time, our body is under a lot of stress, and there are real effects on the musculature.
The lower back suffers the most. Chronic bad posture can malformed the vertebrae, causing permanent issues and sometimes serious chronic pain with back problems in later life // We need to be more aware of what we do and how long we're doing it for. Sitting all day doesn't matter if you have a perfectly aligned posture because it will still put unnecessary strain on certain areas of your body. When at home or work, stretch and get up from your desk and move around.
Exercising daily will also help prevent backs from being over-stressed during prolonged periods of being sat or lying down, as well as help relieve any existing pains/aches/discomfort/headaches, etc.
To prevent lower back pain from becoming a problem, remember to keep these five factors in mind if you spend a lot of time at your desk:
1. Rolled or Hunched Shoulders
The result of slouching is a reduction in the size of discs, which then squeeze together, causing spinal bones to poke out. Further, the disc contents leak into nerves and cause pain and numbness in the arms. Decreasing the pressure on your spine can help prevent herniated discs or alleviate back pain caused by spinal stenosis. Sit upright, firmly against the chair's backrest (if you're upholstered).
2. Looking Down too Much
Our necks are designed to stay flexible, allowing us to look up, down, and sideways easily. We do this with our necks every day without even thinking about it. However, keeping the neck bent for too long can be detrimental not only from a health standpoint but also from an aesthetic perspective. Remember to maintain a neutral position while sitting at home or working in your workspace!
3. Elbows Placed Too Far From the Body
It's common these days to spend a lot of time sitting while doing work. Keeping your elbows in an awkward position over an extended period takes a toll on the health of your back, so it is important to take some precautions to ensure you do not go on harming yourself gradually over time. The best way to ensure you don't hurt your back even further once strained is to practice good posture when it comes to sitting. Studies have shown that keeping the right posture can prevent further injuries because bones, ligaments, and joints typically heal faster than muscles once damaged.
4. Leaning too Far Forward
Forcing your back muscles to support additional weight when leaning forward can create spinal misalignment, exacerbating back pain or leading to a pinched nerve. The most comfortable position for your back and the vertebrae inside it is sitting upright with your lower back against the back of your chair.
5. Crossing Your Arms, Knees, or Ankles
Crossing your arms and legs for extended periods, such as sitting at a desk all day, may cause various health consequences. Doing 2 hours of this posture can cut off blood supply to the inner organs and increase pain in the back, shoulders, and neck - even if you are unaware of it. Whether working at a computer or sitting for long periods at a restaurant where chairs may not be designed with ergonomics in mind, you deserve better than that! To keep yourself healthy AND comfortable, try placing both feet flat on the floor while keeping both arms straight along the sides of your body. Doing so will help you maintain your position without straining those muscles!
Being Overweight or Out of Shape
Being overweight is becoming an epidemic nowadays due to the standard of living. Carrying extra weight places additional stress on the back and can even tilt it over time. This can lead to long-term health conditions like sciatica and herniated discs. If you carry extra weight, weight loss and strengthening the back muscles is one healthy way to prevent lower back pain, helping properly support your body while sitting down or standing up.
How You're Holding Your Phone
Holding your phone to your ear during long conversations can put a lot of pressure on the neck and shoulder area, leading to tension headaches, nausea, and even lower back pain. Taking breaks from holding the phone up to your ear when you engage in longer conversations is important. You can either switch hands or use a headset or speakerphone to avoid straining yourself.
Best sitting position for lower back pain
Lower back pain is a common complaint among people of all ages. It can be caused by various factors such as poor posture, injury, or certain medical conditions. Adopting the correct sitting position is one of the best ways to alleviate lower back pain. A good sitting position can reduce pressure on the spine and muscles, thus reducing pain and discomfort.
The best sitting position for lower back pain is one that promotes proper alignment of the spine. This means that your back should be straight, and your shoulders should be relaxed. Your feet should be flat on the floor, and your knees should be level with your hips. It would be best to avoid crossing your legs as this can lead to an imbalance in the pelvis, which can cause strain on the lower back.
To achieve the correct sitting posture, you should sit on a chair that provides proper support to your back. Look for a chair with a straight back or one with lumbar support. Lumbar support is a curved cushion that fits into the small of your back and helps to maintain the natural curve of your spine. This can greatly reduce lower back pain.
Another important factor to consider when adopting a good sitting position is the height of your chair. Your chair should be adjusted so that your feet are flat.
Tips to Reduce Lower Back Pain When Sitting
If your job or regular day-to-day activities require long periods of sitting, there are some steps you can take to prevent, manage and reduce lower back pain.
Use Heat and Ice
Back pain resulting from poor posture while seated may respond well to either hot or cold therapy. Apply heat or ice (or a combination) to areas of tension and discomfort after a long day at the office.
Back pain can be crippling, especially if you spend a lot of time sitting in front of the computer. Back pain will fade with time, but there are things you can do right away to help relieve some discomfort - and one of them is using a Microwavable heating pad.
Ice and heat provide two different approaches for finding relief for your lower back pain. While both agents have their place in treatment, both should be applied sparingly, as it could lead to reduced effectiveness or side effects if your routine needs to be more careful.
Sacksy Thyme Hot & Cold Therapy for back Pain:
The Sacksy Thyme microwavable Hot & Cold Therapy pad is the perfect solution for anyone who suffers from back pain. This versatile pad can be used to provide both hot and cold therapy, making it an ideal choice for a variety of different conditions. Whether you have a sore back from sitting at a desk all day or you're dealing with a more serious injury, this pad can help to relieve your pain and discomfort.
Take Regular Short Breaks from Sitting
As an entrepreneur, you're likely spending more than four hours a day sitting and working at a desk. This easily builds tension in your lower back, which can lead to serious pain in the future if not addressed early on. Take time off every hour or two by standing up for a minute. This may be unnecessary, but it will help stretch out your muscles and relieve tension that has built up in your daily life.
Stretch and Exercise Regularly
You spend a lot of time sitting at a desk each day. If sitting for prolonged periods is inevitable, here's how to lower the harmful effects on your heart and overall health: stretching frequently throughout the day can help offset the negative impacts of sedentary regularly. Additionally, you should ensure your back is strong enough to support your upper body by practicing targeted exercises while performing other simple stretches focusing on your core.
Take time to massage your tight areas as soon as you notice them. If you don't, this muscular tension could cause imbalances in the body, leading to poor posture and worsening back pain. Many methods of massage therapy, whether professional or self-massage, can increase blood flow, remove muscle knots, and loosen up stiff muscles in your body.
When to Seek Professional Help
Lower back pain typically responds well to exercise and improved sitting posture, but it is important to seek medical attention if any of the following symptoms persist
- Persistent pain that does not improve
- Tingling or numbness in the back or legs
- Unusual weakness
- Unexplained weight loss.
These symptoms may indicate a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention.
Back pain can be serious, indeed. If you have severe back pain or nothing alleviates the fairly consistent pain, it's a good idea to seek medical help from a doctor specializing in back issues. See your doctor, and they will recommend appropriate treatments for your symptoms. They may prescribe pain medication or place you on special therapy programs. Physical therapists and chiropractors may help alleviate some pain if your doctor suggests it.
Lower back pain is a prevalent issue that many individuals face. As we age, this condition can become more severe. However, there are measures we can take to safeguard and fortify our backs. It is common to prefer sitting over standing to alleviate back pain. Unfortunately, in numerous cases, poor sitting posture exacerbates the problem.
It is important to be conscientious about maintaining proper posture while sitting, maintaining strong core muscles to support the spine, and seeking medical attention if the condition is severe or persistent to keep your back in optimal condition.