Sitting and Back Pain

We love to sit, don’t we?! We sit to eat, to work, to watch, and to drive.  Chances are that you are sitting an average of more than 10 hours per day. That is incredibly hard on the various systems (digestive, circulatory, etc.) that keep the body functioning well and it is also hard on our backs. 

Think about this for a moment … when we sit the muscles in the hip area shorten to bend our legs into the sitting position. Those muscles (and ligaments and tendons) stay like that until we stand up. After spending long periods of time in that position they don’t just happily jump back to their optimal length. They are tight and they stay tight. The two options we have at that point are to walk around bent over or throw something else out of alignment in order to stand up straight. What happens when we stand up straight is that our back arches because we have to tilt our pelvis forward to be upright to compensate for the tightness caused by sitting. An arched back means a compressed spine and that means pain. 

There are other problems that occur as a result of this tension such as our gluteus muscles and other parts of our core stop working properly. Ultimately this leads to more pain throughout the body that becomes worse without taking measures to correct this sitting dilemma.

So there are two things you can do. The first is to cut back on the amount of sitting that you are doing. Find ways to stand in as many circumstances as you can. I bet your Netflix time will drop if you watch all those wonderful shows standing up. The second thing is to add this amazing stretch to your routine. It opens up the hip area and releases the tension that gets built up there. Here’s how to do it:

  • Get down to the floor in a kneeling position on your right knee. Your left foot is on the floor in front you. There should be a right angle at your left knee and left hip.

  • Do a pelvic tilt by slightly bending your pelvis upward.

  • Tighten your gluteus muscles

  • Hold for 5 count and repeat 3 – 5 times.

  • Switch to other side and repeat the process.

To intensify the stretch try pushing down on a stick or pole of some kind (broom, hockey stick) in the opposite hand from the knee you’re kneeling on. Also, adjust your position slightly to find the greatest stretch. The sensation should be felt in the upper part of your quadriceps (front of the thigh). The more you push into it the more deeply you will feel it. The greater that feeling the more the tension will be released. 

To get results, this stretch should be done one minute per side for every hour of sitting that you do in a day. I know that sounds like a lot. Trust me as someone who has suffered from both back and hip pain it is worth the investment. Try starting with a minute or two per side per day. Every little bit helps, and it’s way better than the alternative.

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