Sitting down is one of the most common causes of lower back pain, for the simple reason that it is difficult to sit with a neutrally positioned spine.
When sitting down the lumbar curve straightens and can even reverse. This position is analogous to bending forward at the waist while gardening. It is often difficult to stand up after being in this position for a long period of time because the discs take time to return to their normal position and in many cases they don’t fully return to their normal position. The short term consequence of this is acute lower back pain that can be localised to the lower back or it can refer into various parts of the leg. This pain can be suffered for prolonged periods of time. Indeed scientists are starting to discover that low grade inflammation over long periods of time can cause osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis has always been thought of as a long term wear and tear process on various joints of the body that are under considerable load, like hips and knee joints in people who suffer with obesity for example. As a chiropractor I find a lot of people suffer lower back pain from sitting for prolonged periods. This pain is often the result of inflammation of the facet joints of the lumbar spine which is a common area of the spine to suffer from osteoarthritis. Chiropractors are qualified with five years of university education and training and are effective at finding and treating the inflammation and stiffness associated with pain and osteoarthritis.
One of the most effective ways of preventing lower back pain from sitting is to sit with a neutral spine. The easiest way of doing this is to sit with the knees lower than the hips.
This allows the pelvis to tilt forward bringing the lumbar spine into a neutral position. Slouching is a backward tilting pelvis and a corresponding backward curving of the lumbar spine. Unfortunately the human body doesn’t like being in one position for too long and so it is impossible to stay in even a neutral position for too long without getting uncomfortable and so regular breaks are very important. Different variations of neutral spine can also be achieved by kneeling on a kneeling chair, sitting on a fit-ball with the knees lower than the hips, standing, or sitting in a saddle seat. But wherever possible any job that doesn’t require sitting, like answering a phone, should be done walking around.
Lastly there is increasing evidence that sitting and being inactive has adverse effects on our general health and wellbeing and may contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and depression to name few. My expertise only extends to musculoskeletal conditions so I will leave this discussion to other experts.