Is Standing Better Than Sitting For Lower Back Pain

Sitting For Lower Back Pain

Back pain, including lower back pain, is one of the most common conditions affecting adults of all ages and incomes. Yes, it is quite uncomfortable. It can even affect your lifestyle and bring your spirit down for days. You are not alone, though.

According to reports, 16.9% of people in the UK have back pain, and the leading cause of disability in the country is low back pain. Every 6th person you meet has issues with back pain. What all of these people have in common is trying to find the best way to alleviate feelings of discomfort and pain.

One of the most questions they have on their minds goes like this — Is standing better than sitting for lower back pain?

Let’s look for an answer together, shall we?

Is It Better To Stand Or Sit With Lower Back Pain?

Is standing better than sitting for lower back pain

Lower back pain can result from many things ranging from degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis to spondylolisthesis and osteoarthritis. It’s also called axial back pain or mechanical pain. The “axial pain” term is used for pain that is confined to one spot or region.

We are talking about the pain in the lower back section, hence axial back pain. When it comes to the disease of the disc – the lower back is often a target.

But is it only reserved for people who spend hours sitting, right? Yes, you probably heard that people spend most of their days sitting at a desk complaining about back pain.

The most confusing thing about back pain is that some people rarely sit, and they have it too. It begs two questions. First, is sitting really the dominant cause of pain in the lower back? And, secondly, is standing better than sitting for lower back pain?

To answer both these questions, you need to understand the different pressure on the spine while sitting vs. standing.

Pressure On Spine Sitting vs. Standing

 

Your spine consists of vertebrae and discs connected with tendons, ligaments, and muscles. The amount of pressure you put on your discs depends on your posture. The most relevant for back pain are lumbar vertebrae and intervertebral discs.

Is there anything that makes standing different from sitting when it comes to pressure on the spine? In fact, there is! While you are sitting, your pelvis is rotated backwards compared to when you are standing. The standing position promotes a natural lumbar curve of the spine. In other words, standing delivers the least pressure on your spine. Since the pelvis goes slightly back when you are sitting, the natural lumbar curve is flattened, and the pressure on the spine increases.

It’s not only increased, but it becomes uneven, making some of the discs more exposed to it than others. Let’s say that natural pressure on the spine while standing is 100%. While sitting, this pressure can range from 105 to a whopping 190%, depending on your posture. The most pressure (190%) occurs when you lean forwards, making your spine take a “C” shape.

Lower Back Pain From Sitting At Desk

 

Many people slouch while sitting at a desk, which completely disrupts the spine’s natural “S” shape; the pelvis gets rotated back, which flattens the curve and exposes vertebrae and discs to more pressure. It’s not a problem if you spend some time sitting in a bad posture every once in a while.

But if you spend hours sitting at a desk every day, you’ve unwillingly scheduled an appointment with pain. It especially goes for people with an underlying medical condition such as osteoporosis or degenerative disc disease.

Lower back pain from sitting at a desk can be experienced as a dull ache or sharp, searing pain. If you experience lower back pain from sitting at a desk, the reason can be anything of the following:

Bad Posture

As we’ve previously discussed, having a bad posture and spending days at a desk sitting is a recipe for pain in the lumbar region of your spine.

Sciatica

Sciatica is a pain in the sciatic nerve and can be caused by various things. The sciatic nerve runs down the base of your spine and goes into your legs which is why people often experience it on only one side. The pain worsens as you spend more time sitting, causing people to seek help from a physiotherapist.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease naturally occurs as we age but can also result from a spine injury. It refers to damaged intervertebral discs in the lower spine. The pain can get worse if you sit or bend.

Muscle Strain

The lumbar strain occurs when you overstretch your back muscles or twist your back too much. The pain is localized and doesn’t go down to your legs. You can tell that it is a muscle strain because it becomes hard to move, and your back becomes stiff.

Herniated Disc

This one also naturally occurs in older people. It happens when a disc goes out of its position and normal shape and puts strain on nerves and the spinal cord.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis refers to a condition of a spinal canal being too narrow for the spinal cord. It puts pressure on the cord, causing pain and discomfort. If you have any of these conditions, you will experience pain and discomfort from sitting at a desk.
However, when it comes to lower back pain, the most common culprits are bad posture and muscle
strain. Fortunately, you can do some things to alleviate pain when sitting at a desk.

Best Sitting Position For Lower Back Pain

 

Ok, we’ve established that sitting for prolonged periods of time at a desk almost every day can cause lower back pain. We also have bad posture as the leading cause of it. The best thing you can do for yourself is to improve your posture and sit properly at your desk.

Here is the best sitting position for pain in the lumbar spine.

Upper Arms And Spine

 

Take a seat and move close to your desk, just as if you are about to start working. Pay attention to your upper arms. They need to be parallel to your spine. Now place your hands on your keyboard or desk surface. Your upper and lower arms need to be at a 90-degree angle. If they are not, you need to move your chair up or down until they are.

Thighs And Footrest

 

Now that you’ve sorted your arms, you need to ensure that your legs are in a proper position too. While you are seated, try to slide your fingers under your thighs towards the leading edge of the chair. If there is just enough space to do it, you are good.

If there is not, you need to get your feet up. If there is too much space, you need to lift your chair. Keep in mind the previous tip. It might require you to invest in a new desk or chair.

Support For Your Lower Back

 

The most important thing about your posture is lower-back support, at least when it comes to lower back pain. The lumbar support is there to restore the natural “S” shape to your spine and rotate your pelvis forward. Many ergonomic chairs have a built-in cushion for lumbar support. If you don’t have one, you can place a small cushion to help arch your lower back. With lumbar support, you won’t slouch or slump that easily.

Properly Adjust Armrest

 

The perfect position for your arms while working is slightly lifted at the shoulders. It doesn’t have anything to do with the lower back, at least not directly, as it helps reduce strain on your neck and shoulders. If your chair doesn’t have an armrest, check if you can upgrade it. It’s not a game-changer, but having them will make a huge difference in the long run.

Have Your Monitor(s) At Proper Height

 

Proper monitor height will promote good posture, preventing you from slouching. If you can’t adjust the height of your monitor, you can get an affordable monitor stand. Here is how to find the ideal monitor height for you — sit comfortably in your chair and have someone help you measure the height of your eye level. The upper base of your monitor should be set at this level.

Bad posture doesn’t only cause pain in the lower back but in the neck too. You can easily prevent it if you follow the previous tips, occasionally stand up, and do some stretches.

Almost all ergonomic office chairs can be adjusted to support good posture. But you have other options as well. You can experiment with an active chair, exercise ball, or add a kneeling chair to your sitting routine.

Does Standing Strengthen Your Back?

 

Standing is incomparably better than sitting. Unlike sitting, standing engages your back, core, and leg muscles. You are not aware of it, but while you are standing, you are constantly defying gravity. You need to keep balance and use your muscles to do it.

Simply put, standing strengthens your back, core, and leg muscles. It also improves balance and can help you alleviate back pain.

When you consider everything we’ve shared with you today, you can easily answer the question we initially asked: Is standing better than sitting for lower back pain?

Yes, standing is better than sitting, especially if you experience lower back pain due to a bad posture. Improving your posture might help you prevent escalating the problem, but the pain can still be there to trouble you.

Do you want to have your lower back looked at and treated by a professional? Book an appointment at One Body LDN today!

FAQ

Is Standing better for your back than sitting?

Standing is definitely better than sitting. However, it’s essential to understand that it is only slightly better if you have a good posture and excellent lumbar support. If you have a bad posture, such as slouching and leaning forward, you put too much pressure on your lower back. In the latter case, standing is almost two times better than sitting.

Is Standing bad for lower back pain?

The answer to this question depends on what causes lower back pain. If we are talking about the back pain caused by bad posture and lots of sitting, standing is not bad for lower back pain. In fact, it can help you ease back pain, stretch tight muscles, and improve postural strength.

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