Updated: Feb 1, 2022
Sitting has become very prominent in our society, especially with our reliance on technology and we are seeing the consequences. Although, there are many, one of these I see very frequently is low back pain.
According to the Institute of National Institute of Health (NIH), nearly 80% of US adults will experience some degree of back pain in their lifetime and is the leading cause for missed days of work. This is also becoming a problem for younger people as they too are sitting more with laptops, video games, cell phones and technology in general. Most of us have heard of disc “problems” leading to low back pain, however heavy lifting is not the most common cause-sitting is!
The discs of the spine lie between the back bones, or vertebrae and these provide shock absorption to the many forces that travel through the spine. These ability to manage these forces are dramatically impacted by our daily activities and the positions we hold our bodies in.
When these forces become too excessive and are not longer managed well, the discs take the beating. These prolonged forces are similar to pushing down onto a full balloon and the sides bulging out.
This bulging of the disc then puts pressure on surrounding nerves and tissues and this causes PAIN.
Here is some perspective on the impact of pressures into the spine. When we are lying on our back, there is approximately 25 psi of pressure exerted through the discs.
When we stand up, this increases to 100 psi or approximately 4 times that of lying flat.
This the force actually increases when we sit down to 140 psi because now the pressure is being distributed over a shorter distance of just our trunk, not throughout our legs and our trunk.
If we lean forward while sitting the pressure through our discs increases to 185 psi which is nearly 7 times the amount when we are lying down! In addition, the longer we sit, the longer that pressure is exerted on our discs.
1. When you sit, make sure you sit upright in a neutral posture-ears over shoulders over hips. It is important to adjust your computer/work station to allow for this and you can find out how to set yours up properly here.
2. If you have to do prolonged sitting, set a timer on your phone for every 30-45 minutes and simply stand up in place or take a walk each time it goes off
3. Walk or engage in active movement for at least 30 minutes per day 4. Begin a general stretching program 4-5 days per week with these simple exercises Should you develop low back pain that does not resolve in 3-5 days and/or you experience pain down one leg, I recommend you contact a physical therapist or physician for an evaluation to determine the best treatment strategy to help your situation.
You can also check out my video course Soothe Your Spine where I walk you through what I teach my own patients to do in order relieve their low back pain and sciatica.
Stay well & feel good,
Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise prescription. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider.
Hi! I am Dr. Kim MacDonald. I am a physical therapist who specializes in empowering my patients to optimize how they move their bodies and improve their ability to do the things they love regardless of age, experience, or capabilities.
My experience in the health care field allows me to teach the tools you need to ensure that you are working safely to improve your pain and maximize your physical potential.
If you would like to know more about how you can help yourself be healthier and live a more active lifestyle, join me here.
If you are having back pain or sciatica and cannot get relief, check out my quick Soothe Your Spine video course on what you should be doing to reduce your pain