Lower back pain when sitting a common complaint amongst those who suffer from back pain. Sometimes the pain is at the base of the spine (SI joint), down the spine, across the spine, or in the muscles on the sides of the spine. It could even radiate down your leg. Common diagnoses associated with low back pain include degenerative disc disease, disc herniations, sciatica, and lower back strains. To obtain an accurate diagnosis, an examination would be needed. Although there are differences in how each of these conditions should be treated, we've found that common limitations exist when it comes to sitting and low back pain.
Some factors that contribute to back pain when sitting include a slumped posture. Being stuck in this position for long periods of time can cause compression of the nerves running through the vertebrae or buttock muscles.
If sitting is painful, the most common-sense recommendation is to find ways to stand up and move more often. This might include investing in a standing desk or setting timers to get up from the seated position. Doing this will allow pain and irritation to settle down. If pain persists, receiving hands-on therapy can help it subside faster. Pain improvements can be made quickly with soft tissue mobilization or dry needling of the lower back muscles. If it is a relatively recent episode of low back pain, joint manipulation of the spine can be effective for pain relief.
Once your pain is under control, you can now address the root and contributing causes of your lower back pain. In many cases, pain with sitting is associated with stiffness of the hips, low back, and upper back. There may also be weakness of the hip, abdominal, and lower back muscles. The best way to know what is contributing to back pain with sitting is to have a movement assessment performed. Once you know what your specific limitations are, you can get to work on activating muscles, restoring movement, and developing strength.
If you have a weakness, learning how to activate muscles not firing well is key. With lower back pain, the posterior chain (low back, glutes, and hamstring muscles) often doesn't function well. Some exercises that activate the backside include:
- Bridge with adduction
- Leg lock bridge
- Straight leg bridge
Once muscles engage better, the next step is restoring movement. The basic function of the spine is to bend forward, backward, and to rotate. Some exercise that can be helpful for restoring normal movement include:
- Jefferson Curl
- Prone Superman
- Prone lumbar rotation
Once you have a good base of movement, developing strength is the best way to achieve lasting results. What may have been painful to consider in the past can now produce phenomenal results in regards to function and fitness. Strength should be developed by practicing patterns of movement. When it comes to spine health, movements like the hinge and twist are especially important. Exercises that work these patterns include deadlifts and the Turkish Get-up. If you can generate tension and maintain technique, movements like these will develop a strong spine that is resilient to injury.
Most of the aforementioned exercises can be found in our video library.
When addressed with a specialized physical therapy program, overcoming low back pain when sitting is possible. However, ignoring pain may only prolong your suffering. If you have low back pain when sitting, the physical therapists at Movement Solutions would be glad to be a resource for you.
We have a free guide on relieving back pain that can give you further insight into back problems and help kickstart your recovery. We are available for a free 15-minute phone consultation to talk about how your pain is affecting you and discuss your treatment options.
If you’re considering physical therapy, each month we offer 14-back pain consultations. This is an opportunity to ask questions, obtain clarity about your back pain, and foster confidence that we can help you. If you want help with your back problem, request your consultation today.
Back Pain Consultation
If you’re in pain and unsure about what your next steps should be, call us at (864) 558-7346 and ask how we can help.