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Does sitting hurt your back? Here's three things you can do

  1. Step back and think: Is sitting causing your back pain or do you just have back pain and feel it when you are sitting? Back pain tends to be associated with sitting, because majority of people just sit for longer periods compared to other positions. So you are aware of back pain while sitting, because you spend most of your time sitting. If you spent a majority of your time standing, and had back pain, you would think the standing is what is causing back pain. If you spend a majority of your time swimming and had back pain, you would think that the swimming is causing your back pain. Instead, step back and consider other options that may be contributing to your back pain: Overtraining? Or you are babying your back too much and just using passive rest? Or maybe you are sleep deprived or not eating appropriately? It could be a combination of various factors. It’s hard to say ‘this one thing’ is the reason for your back pain.

  2. Relax! Sit in a position that is comfortable for you. If you are starting to feel pain, try changing your positions. Try laying on your back, or your belly, or standing, or do a handstand. Just find a position that is comfortable for you. People tend to feel pain when they stay in one position too long, so the key is to move! Good reminder is if you sit for long periods, stand up for 5-10 min every hour. Go for a walk or stretch. If you stand for long periods, for 5-10 min, sit or lay down, or walk. Just move.

  3. Symptom Modification. Find things that can temporarily reduce your pain: Heat or cold pack, Self- manipulations, massage, or completing repeat movements (Laying on your belly and pushing through your hands into extensions). Again, these techniques only provide temporary relief, and do not actually address the underlying reason for your back pain.


  1. Lis AM, Black KM, Korn H, Nordin M. Association between sitting and occupational LBP. Eur Spine J. 2007;16(2):283-298. doi:10.1007/s00586-006-0143-7

  2. Malmivaara A, Häkkinen U, Aro T, et al. The treatment of acute low back pain--bed rest, exercises, or ordinary activity?. N Engl J Med. 1995;332(6):351-355. doi:10.1056/NEJM199502093320602

  3. Gerhart JI, Burns JW, Post KM, et al. Relationships Between Sleep Quality and Pain-Related Factors for People with Chronic Low Back Pain: Tests of Reciprocal and Time of Day Effects. Ann Behav Med. 2017;51(3):365-375. doi:10.1007/s12160-016-9860-2

  4. Chen YL, Chan YC, Zhang LP. Postural Variabilities Associated with the Most Comfortable Sitting Postures: A Preliminary Study. Healthcare (Basel). 2021;9(12):1685. Published 2021 Dec 6. doi:10.3390/healthcare9121685

  5. Garra G, Singer AJ, Leno R, et al. Heat or cold packs for neck and back strain: a randomized controlled trial of efficacy. Acad Emerg Med. 2010;17(5):484-489. doi:10.1111/j.1553-2712.2010.00735.x

  6. Kubal, A. (2022, August 2). Chicken or egg: Does your back Hurt? [video blog]. Retrieved August 6, 2022.

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