For the past several weeks, many of those reading this have likely set a personal record for the amount of time sitting in their favorite chair or couch. Although an occasional period of sitting and reading can be relaxing, too much of it can be problematic for your low back. Increased sitting, especially in soft couches and chairs, can put extra pressure on your low back muscles and intervertebral discs. Symptoms of too much sitting, especially with poor posture, can range from low back pain to sciatica. Sciatica refers to pain in the sciatic nerve which runs down the base of your spine into the back of your legs and into your feet. The pain from sciatica can be anything from a dull ache to sharp, stabbing pain or an electric type shock. Sitting for long periods of time can make this pain worse. The good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of experiencing low back pain and sciatica from too much sitting.
The first step is to limit the amount time that you are sitting. When you are sitting, try to sit in a supported chair and ensure that your hips do not fall below the level of your knees. Also, try placing a lumbar support or rolled up towel in the arch of your low back to help maintain the natural curvature of your spine.
Most importantly, get up and move. Research has shown that low back exercises and walking are the best treatments for low back pain. The exercises shown below are a good place to start for low back pain relief.
If you continue to experience pain which is not relieved by any of the above tips, please consult your physician or a physical therapist.