Sitting can be good!

Sitting can be good for your back. For example, after you have been standing all day, it can be good for your back if you sit down and relax. If you have never had any back problems before, the science seems to indicate that sitting will not cause back problems. And for those who do suffer from a back problem like spinal stenosis, sitting will actually relieve your back pain, whereas standing or walking will increase your back pain.

But sitting can also be ‘bad’!

Sitting can also be ‘bad’ for your back. If you are sitting for 8-10 hours per day, sitting for long periods of time, and always sitting the same way, then you aren’t doing your back any favours. For those with disc-related back problems, sitting will probably aggravate your back, so it is more important that you pay attention to your sitting posture and how long you sit.

So what should you do?

As you can see, sitting is one of those things that can be ‘good’ for your back in some situations and ‘bad’ for your back in other situations. It all depends. Often when it comes to sitting, the ‘dose makes the poison.’

Here are my recommendations for you to ensure that sitting is ‘good’ for your back:

  1. Moderation is important.
    • Take a break from sitting at least every 50 minutes. (If you have disc-related back pain, take a break more frequently, maybe every 20 minutes or so.)
    • Don’t sit all day. If you sit during work hours, try to do something active during your lunch or other breaks.
  2. Variety is essential. Frequently modify your sitting posture. Change the angle of your seat pan.
  3. Spend most of your time sitting with your back in a neutral position (ie. the position your back is in when you stand tall) but do modify the amount of arch in your low back periodically.
  4. Don’t engage in any sort of strenuous tasks within 2-5 minutes after sitting.
  5. Use a chair with a back rest that you can lean against, rather than something like a gym ball.

So, is sitting good for your back? Yes and no, it all depends. Should you feel guilty about sitting because it is bad for your back? Absolutely not. If you sit ‘wisely,’ then sitting isn’t something you have to avoid or feel bad about.