Lower back hurts when sitting? - Top simple tips to make a difference today.

How common is it low back pain when sitting?

If you get lower back pain (LBP), you’re not alone, especially if you suffer from lower back pain when sitting down. It’s one of the most common medical complaints. Indeed, it is estimated that approximately 30% of the adult female population suffers from LBP and 25% of the adult male population. In the US, it is the fifth most common reason for GP consultations. 

When does throbbing lower back pain when sitting commonly start? 

Most such back pain starts between the ages of 30 and 50, and tends to get worse over time. It should be remembered however that it can strike at any age. 

What are the most common causes of lower back pain when sitting but not standing?

The reasons why a person’s lower back hurts when sitting are often very difficult to pin down exactly. The contribution that sitting makes to the picture is often significant, but is usually in conjunction with other factors. In other words, sitting appears to exacerbate the problem. It may be that the underlying issue is one of physical injury or degeneration. 

Muscle Strain: For instance, a muscle strain (called a lumbar strain when it occurs in the lower back region), usually caused by an overzealous stretch or twist, can result in discomfort from the back to the buttocks. Throbbing lower back pain when sitting can ensue. 

Sciatica: Sciatica is another cause of LBP when sitting, as is sacroiliac joint dysfunction and spinal stenosis. 

Disc Protrusions: For some the discs In the spine can cause significant problems when they become damaged. This can take the form of herniation (when pressure on a disc result in it being pushed out of its normal shape) or degenerative disc disease. A less than optimal disc condition can be especially painful, being situated so close to the nerves that descend around the spine.

Why is standing more comfortable? 

There is some debate over why people get lower back pain when sitting but not standing. 

One of the key factors is likely to be the change in the spine angle between the 2 positions. When you sit you naturally flex the spine relative to the hips whilst when you stand you extend the spine. In turn the extended spine may place less pressure on the tissues that are contributing to the pain. It is worth noting that for many people long periods of standing can cause issues and so rotating between sitting and standing is a popular option. To learn more about the best stools for standing desks please click here. 

What is the role of sitting itself when your lower back hurts when sitting? 

All of these medical conditions can result in more pain for the sufferer if combined with various, common, phenomena associated with sitting down. 

Poor posture seems to play a major part, as does the impact of repetitive aggravating motions such as reaching for a mouse or using a keyboard without appropriate positioning and support. 

Sitting for too long can have a dramatic impact on lower back pain when sitting, as can general stress.

What causes low back pain when sitting and getting up?

Some find that the lower back hurts when sitting and getting up. One possible reason for this is that LBP limits spine and hip motion and affects the coordination between the two. The individual may try to protect their tender spinal area by seeking to avoid overloading it. This can result in an unnatural circumventing technique which will only place the body under further stress. 

If you find that your lower back hurts when sitting and getting up from sitting, it can be a blow to your sense of wellbeing. But there are simple things that can make a big difference.

Heal thyself: Some of these situations will clear up by themselves: for instance a lumbar strain will often ease within weeks to months if you take simple steps and avoid aggravating factors. Others will not ease so much by themselves: discs for example have very little in the way of blood supply so will not heal quickly. Moreover, degenerative conditions are so called because they generally worsen over time  is. These will require proper medical management, together with a more specialist seating solution. 

What can you do to when your lower back hurts when sitting?

Small steps - In terms of what you can do to tackle the problem, let’s start by looking at everyday improvements you can make to your most commonly used sitting area, which is likely to be your workstation. 

  • Position Breaks: An enormously helpful tactic you can implement is to take regular breaks when working. Leaving a static position before it becomes too entrenched will both ease the build-up of pressure on your spine and promote circulation. So, every 30 minutes or so, try walking around the office for a minute or two, interspersed with stretching.
  • Posture: Pay attention to your sitting posture. You should be facing your keyboard directly, with a straight back and feet planted firmly on the floor. Your chair should give adequate lower back support and should enable a degree of adjustment to suit your frame. You can learn more about the basics of setting up a workstation that will better protect your spine by clicking here.
  • Exercises: It may be worth looking into the sorts of exercises that can help with building up the muscles around your spine and with facilitating greater flexibility. We have found that it pays to do your research when looking into gentle Pilates/yoga classes to ensure the instructors have experience of adapting their classes accordingly. Do also seek medical advice before you embark on any new exercise regime though.
  • Ergonomic seating: For conditions that require a more active intervention, it may be worth considering investing in an ergonomic seating solution. At what’s worked we specialise in finding specialist seating for people in pain who who have injuries and so please feel free to get in contact and we will send over some of the most successful stools and chairs for low back pain 
  • Saddle stools: Many users whose lower back hurts when sitting have found a degree of relief from LBP by using a saddle-shaped stool which is designed to route pressure away from the lower back by promoting an open-hipped posture that encourages better spinal positioning. A good option is the Salli Multi-Adjuster, which numbers among its comprehensive range of features a forward and backward tilt which assists with easing discomfort. Those with a narrower pelvis will find the Score Amazone highly suitable.
  • Active Stools: Those that would prefer a stool that doesn’t require saddle-style sitting. The CoreChair is designed to support the spine through the use of a pelvic stabiliser, that works in conjunction with the moulded seat cushion to place the user in a healthy sitting position.

More information regarding the best ergonomic stools for office workers can be found here.

Conclusion

Whether you are suffering from lower back pain when sitting but not standing, or lower back pain when standing up from a sitting position, it makes sense to try a range of techniques to counter it. It is well worth doing what you can to optimise your existing workspace, together with exploring what exercises may have a beneficial effect. Should the situation not improve however you may wish to look into an ergonomically designed seat. Lastly, don’t forget to seek medical advice if your condition is not disappearing on its own.