We all know slumping in our chair at work or while sitting on a bucket or bench increases the stress and low back pain. This pain radiates to the upper back and into the neck making it difficult to straighten up and get going again. After a long day at work there is nothing better than to relax and rest in your favorite chair and watch TV, read the paper or a book and then off to bed to rest and prepare the body for the next day’s work or play. But wait! Why are you feeling back pain and stiffness after relaxing in your chair? Why do you feel like you just stood up after sitting on a bucket? The reason is your chair may be causing you to “slump sit”.
Slump sitting is when your lower back is rounded and your tailbone is rolled down and under you. This happens automatically when your seat and backrest are too soft, too deep, too low or concave shaped. In this position your low back is rounded, your chest is depressed and you are sitting on your pelvis. Slump sitting can also cause you to round your neck up and out in order to see straight ahead. When you slump sit your breathing also becomes restricted. This is caused by the force of gravity compressing your ribs and pelvis together. This compression causes you breath shallow and thus the amount of oxygen your body is transferring is decreased. This can result in feeling fatigued, listless and can make it difficult to concentrate.
Slump sitting is a chief factor in low back pain, neck pain, and can lead to degenerative structural changes over time. The pain from this may be in the low back, and/or neck. In serious cases the pain can also be felt in the legs and arms.
“But my chair feels so good to sit in.” And that may be true. But if you are experiencing low back pain, neck pain and difficulty straightening up after sitting for a while, your favorite chair is doing you more harm than good. If you have the feeling of being swallowed by your chair, it doesn’t have enough support for your back. If your feet don’t touch the floor when you are sitting all the way back in your chair, it may be too high, too deep, or the seat may be worn out and in need of repair or replacing. If your knees are higher than your hips, your chair is too low. These problems may be corrected by sitting on a cushion, towel or blanket, or adding a lumbar support. If not, it’s time for a new chair.
We all like to relax in our favorite chair or couch after a long day and we deserve to be able to do just that. But if you are feeling low back pain and have trouble standing straight when you get out up, your chair may secretly be adding to your back pain.