Sitting Is The New Smoking: 4 Simple Steps For Sitting Longer With Less Pain
One of the most frequent activities that our patients engage in is prolonged sitting. Whether it's sitting through long conference calls, school activities, or even watching evening TV, we as a society, sit for far too long.
Believe it or not, sitting is one of the most stressful things you can do to your neck and lower back. Improper sitting and poor posture can increase your risk for developing or exacerbating lower back pain which can lead to neck and shoulder pain as well.
Over the years I’ve developed a sequence of things to remember in order to maintain good posture while sitting.
Step 1: Make a lumbar roll. Take a bath towel and fold it lengthwise in half. Take that and roll it from one end to the other until you have a log shape. Secure the ends with a rubber band to keep it from unraveling.
Step 2: When you sit in your chair, make sure you get your bottom all the way back into the crack of the chair. If you have any space between your bottom and the back of the chair, you are almost sure to slump.
Step 3: While keeping your bottom in the crack of the chair, lean forward and take the lumbar roll and place it across your lower back, in the small of your back, around where your belt would be.
Step 4: Do your best to maintain an upright posture with your tummy muscles tight. As I always tell my patients, “Suck in your tummy muscles, without holding your breath”.
You may notice that your neck and shoulders feel more relaxed when your lower back is in a good position. I can’t tell you how many times people have come back to the office with reports of reduced neck and shoulder pain once they fix how they are sitting.
Keep in mind that the type of chair you’re sitting in makes a huge difference as well. Try to avoid oversized, plush furniture and try to sit on firmer surfaces.
If you are shorter in stature, you may need to put a pillow behind your back if you’re unable to get your bottom to the back of the chair without your feet coming off the floor. If that’s you, put the pillow behind you first, then place the lumbar roll between the pillow and the small of your back.
Keep in mind that the lumbar roll can be used anytime you sit, including while you’re driving. It can come in particularly handy for those long road trips.
Remember, with this technique as with anything, consistency is key. I hope these steps help! As always, if you have any difficulty sitting or are struggling with low back pain, call our office for a consultation. We’d be happy to help!
Author Jim Storhok, PT, DPT