Here’s are 5 sitting posture tips you can incorporate right to relieve your back pain. Back pain sucks when you have to sit for prolonged periods of time. The best thing to do is sit less, but sometimes whatever is demanded of you can’t wait, so you have no choice.
The 5 Ways to Sit to Decrease Back Pain
We will cover the following. Click each to go directly to the instructions.
- Sit with your hips higher than your knees
- Sit on an exercise ball
- Use kneeling variations
- Sit less
#1 Reduce back pain by sitting with your hips higher than your knees
- Opens the hips and can reduce back pain
- Often give instant pain relief
- The biggest AND easiest postural adjustment you can make with sitting related pain
Expensive chairs do this by tilting back, which also opens up the hip angle. This moves you farther away from your desk, so you have to slide closer. Sitting higher solves that problem. This makes sitting more comfortable, but don’t use that as an excuse to sit longer.
#2 Reduce back pain by sitting on an exercise ball
- Decreased pain similar to #1
- Postural muscles have to “work” so better circulation
- Use a bigger ball (> 55cm) since body weight crushed the ball down
I discovered this on accident while studying during physical therapy school. I got a new desk but did not own a chair. Never really thought about it until I sat in a regular chair and my back pain was worse. I have some chronic back pain from my military days so this was a fortunate discovery.
Here is a ball we recommend (affiliate link)
The ball should be 1) durable and 2) larger than 55cm since it’ll compress when you sit on it.
Bonus Tip – Saddle sitting posture
They make chairs like this but you can straddle sit on a ball and get the same back pain relieving affects.
#3 Kneeling Variations
- Perfect if you can’t adjust desk height (yes these people exist)
- Changes your sitting posture
- May need a cushion for your knees
- Switch between all 3 variations if possible
Since sitting is sooooo bad (it’s not, being in one position too long is usually the culprit), just make sitting not sitting and you solve the problem. You can still engage your desk, but you’ve tricked your brain into thinking you aren’t sitting (tall kneeling), or only half of you is (half kneeling). Short kneeling is a great ankle stretch.
Bonus Tip: flex your glutes 3 sets 30s in tall and half kneeling positions so your glutes don’t “forget” how to work (they won’t). Do reps of going from short to tall kneeing to work that posterior chain.
#4 Sit less
- Use a timer and stick to the schedule
- May have to start with 10-15 minutes depending on pain level
- get some fresh air, go walk some stairs, whatever it takes
Sitting less sounds obvious but people just forget. Often times people won’t do something because they are overwhelmed with the choices.
Obvious and popular. Important to note I’ve had several patients that stand all day. Guess what they report? You guessed it, back pain.
Sitting makes them feel better.
Like I stated before it’s not the posture that causes back pain, its the duration. You could be standing with perfect posture (doesn’t exists) and still report back pain.
A standing desk is a great option obviously. Unfortunately I’ve met many people that don’t have the option for a standing desk at work, so that’s why we have the other options.
Bonus tip – propping the foot up when standing can reduce back pain. It’s like standing and sitting at the same time.
To sum it up
- If you sit all the time, stand up
- If you stand all the time, sit down
All these tips I have listed are just to pull you out of the extremes of an activity you do often. Sitting is the easiest to pick on since we do it so much, and the easiest to modify.
Sometimes your back is so irritated that you can’t sit comfortably. In that case, use these 4 strategies here to manage your pain.
A full body mobility program is usually the best tool to combat the aches and pains of sitting. Here’s our favorite