Spine Sparing Part II: Reduce Pain Pain When You Stand

Part two of my spine sparing series deals with something that most of us do for perhaps a large part of the day– sitting. Check here for part one.

Some say sitting is the new smoking but I wouldn’t go that far, as sitting is a very normal functional component of our daily lives, while smoking is not!

As with many things, there is a wrong way to sit, and that’s not to even mention the poor pattern in which we go about standing from sitting! (That’s the stuff of another blog). Today we’ll talk about the best posture when sitting, or more accurately, a spine sparing posture.

In my last 20 years of caring for patients, I have noticed the paradox that people with the worst backs often sit in a way that actually causes more back trouble! Backs that are predominantly painful when people bend forward (called flexion) typically will sit in a posture that involves a lot of spine flexion. In a similar way, those who don’t like leaning backwards (extension) often sit with the spine bolt upright into extension. I’ve had to teach many people how to sit in a way that spares their spine.

To understand the best way to sit we have to understand and observe how you shift from a slouched posture to an upright one. Which of these are you?

  1. Someone who lifts the rib cage stressing the thoracolumbar junction (that area of the spine where the ribs stop and the lumbar spine starts)?
  2. Or do you flex the hips, rolling the pelvis forward to align the spine?

It has been shown that the best choice for people is neither of these. A combination of the two to minimises stress and reduces pain. Understanding these movements will aid us greatly in how we go about getting up out the chair, something I will discuss further in my next blog.

By the time you get out of your chair in the chiropractor’s waiting room your chiropractor has already assessed this movement, and many others! Your chiropractor will assess and advise you so you can minimise overly stressing any one of the two areas when you move from sitting to standing. Moving the wrong way multiple times a day, particularly if your low back is already sensitised, will make it very hard to achieve and maintain gains from your treatment.

If you feel pain every time you stand from sitting, your sit to stand strategies may be compromised, or there may be other spine or hip issues that need to be addressed. We look forward to helping you solve these issues.