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A Guide to Relieving Lower Back Pain From Sitting

Did you know that lower back pain affects around one-third of the UK adult population each year according to the NCBI?

Sadly, as we age, these pains tend to become more permanent. The NHS states that back pain is the largest single cause of disability in the UK, with lower back pain alone accounting for 11% of the total disability of the UK population.

We share our expert tips and advice to relieve lower back pain from sitting and prevent you from developing chronic back problems later in life.

What causes back pain when sitting down?

There are lots of different reasons for getting backache, but a common cause is not sitting down properly.

If your lower back hurts when sitting and getting up, the way you sit may be putting excess strain on your spine, causing it to curve forwards or sideways unnaturally. This puts abnormal pressure on ligaments, muscles and tendons, resulting in aches and pains. It also means that the weight of your head, shoulders and chest is not evenly distributed, which can further contribute to lower backache.

Plus, this can increase pressure on your heart, lungs and stomach, leading to other medical problems.

It’s important to learn how to sit with lower back pain to alleviate symptoms.

Comfort posture

Many of us develop what is known, in Occupational Therapist circles, as a “Comfort Posture”. This refers to the most comfortable position we adopt in a particular seat. If our usual furniture does not support us in the way that it should, then our “comfort posture” will be heavily impacted.

In other words, think back to when you went away on holiday, or you stayed at someone else’s home. Did you find it an odd, even painful, experience to get used to a different bed or chair? This is because your muscles (and brain) learn the most comfortable position to be in, and when we go somewhere new, our muscles are then challenged and put under new forces whilst we try to find our new “comfort posture”.

How to stop back pain from sitting:

Luckily, there are lots of things you can do to alleviate back pain when sitting, such as being mindful of your posture, staying active and finding supportive furniture.


1. Be aware of how you sit

To help stop lower back pain, you need to be aware of how you sit and know what good posture is. Not sure where to start? Here’s a quick test to check:

1. Stand with the back of your head against a wall
2. Place your heels six inches away from the wall with your buttocks and shoulders touching the wall
3. There should be less than two inches between your neck and the small of your back and the wall
4. A larger gap indicates poor posture and a curving spine, which can make your lower back hurt when sitting

We recommend making your posture an intrinsic part of your everyday thinking, so you are always aware of how to limit any backache and pains caused by poor posture. Read our guide on how to improve posture for more expert advice.

Bad posture when seated is a common cause of lower back pain and aches.

 2. Sit less and move more

Sitting down is something that everyone does. Unfortunately, prolonged sitting has been linked with several health concerns like increased blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease. Ideally, we should try to sit less and move more. If you spend lots of time sitting down due to health, employment or other lifestyle factors, try to incorporate regular walk breaks into your day if you are able to. Here are some great chair exercises you can do to keep your muscles moving and build strength.

If you spend lots of time sitting down, it’s essential to have the right chair or sofa to help your body rest well and move better – and most importantly – reduce lower back pain when sitting.

3. Find supportive furniture

Your furniture is such an important part of making sure that your sitting posture, or “comfort posture”, is correct. You need to choose a chair or sofa that will fully support you and help to prevent or relieve backache.

Our independent Occupational Therapist, Julie Jennings Dip COT HCPC, says, “when sitting down, we should continue to support the natural contours of the spine by distributing weight evenly and appropriately across other parts of the body, without placing excessive strain on other joints, muscles or ligaments.”

We recommend a rise and recline chair with a dual motor which can be positioned to take pressure off your back and joints to provide pain relief and make sitting down more comfortable.

Finding supportive furniture is a key to helping stop back pain.

The best sitting position for lower back pain

If you’re struggling with back pain from sitting down, you need to address your seated posture. At HSL, we’ve spent a long time developing and perfecting our 7-Point Seating Assessment™ which has been approved by our Occupational Therapist. Here’s how to use it to find the best way to sit with lower back pain:

Hip position Bottom fits into the back of the seat.
Height If the seat height is correct, the feet will be flat on the floor. The entire upper leg should also be fully supported so that the knee almost forms a right angle.
Seat depth If the depth of the seat is correct, the calf should gently kiss the leg rest or allow for a flat hand to be placed between the calf and leg rest.
Width The correct width is vital to help spread the weight across the seat. It provides pelvic stability and prevents leaning to one side.
Lower back The lumbar area; the natural curve in the back, is supported by the chair.
Neck and head When the neck is supported correctly the head is not forced forward or too high above the back of the chair.
Arm position Elbows to fingers must be in contact with the arm of the chair. The forearm should be supported with the shoulders in their natural resting position.
Our 7-Point Seating Assessment will help you know how to sit with lower back pain.

To find out more about our exclusive 7-Point Seating Assessment™, visit a store where our Comfort Specialists will assess your unique needs and check that each part of your body is fully supported. See our full range of supportive chairs, sofas and beds to help you to stop lower back pain from sitting.



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