An estimated four in five adults suffer from low back pain at some time in their lives1, and whilst there are many different causes for this, one common reason is not sitting correctly and sitting for long periods of time in uncomfortable chairs.

The NHS suggests that the average Brit spends 9 hours a day sitting down2, so if that time is spent sitting with poor posture, whether in the office or in your favourite armchair, this can have detrimental effects on our body.

Explaining why this is, independent occupational therapist working with HSL, Julie Jennings, shares: “Over time, many of us develop what is known as comfort posture; this refers to the most comfortable position we adopt in a particular seat, but in many cases, this position isn’t supportive.

“This is only worsened by sitting in chairs that aren’t well made or built to support the body. This prevents you from being able to sit properly, which can cause slouching or sitting in positions which aren’t good for the alignment of your body and ultimately cause back pain.”

If you’re suffering from lower back pain, Julie shares 5 steps you can take to treat it and prevent it from coming back.

back pain
  1. Slow exercise and movement

Julie states: “Whilst rest is important, if you are limiting your movement then the muscle around your spine can become stiff and weaken. Because of this, it is important to try to keep moving your body, perhaps through gentle walks, to help to relieve flare ups and increase blood flow.

“If you have access to a local swimming pool, going for a leisurely swim is another great way to alleviate back pain, as the buoyancy of the water helps to take pressure off your spine and increase mobility.”

  1. Gentle stretches

Julie advises: “Stretching is great for helping to loosen tight muscles in your back and provide relief. Gentle movements like child pose and spinal twists are great accessible stretches that target your lower back and promote flexibility along the spine.

“To help prevent back pain in the future, practising yoga is a great way to build strength and flexibility in the body over time.  If you’re unsure where to start, you can follow simple flows that are specifically designed for back pain on YouTube or attend a beginner’s yoga class in your local area to build confidence.”

  1. Cold and hot therapy

Julie shares: “Using temperature to target the areas where you are experiencing discomfort is a popular and effective way to treat lower back pain. Soaking in a warm bath, for example, is a relaxing way to loosen up your muscles and promote tissue healing.

“For acute backache, which is when pain happens suddenly and only lasts for a few days, start with cold therapy to help reduce inflammation, then heat afterwards to help stimulate blood flow. Make sure to not apply heat or cold directly to your skin, or for prolonged periods of time, as it can cause injuries to the skin and even result in nerve damage.”

back pain
  1. Practise sitting properly 

Julie explains: “Not sitting correctly in your chair can put stress on your spine and pressure on ligaments, muscles and tendons. This can result in sore aches and pains, but learning how to sit properly can prevent this.

“To practise sitting correctly, whether that be on your sofa, desk chair, or armchair, make a conscious effort to sit straight with your feet on the floor with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Your head should be balanced above your shoulders, not leaning forward, and your spine should follow its natural curvature.”

  1. Invest in supportive furniture

Julie suggests: “Investing in ergonomic furniture that is designed to prop your body upright is one of the best ways to ensure your back has the proper support it needs, whether that be for work, leisure or relaxation.

“For daily life at home, riser recliner chairs are a great option as they help to provide that essential lumbar support needed to help you achieve that neutral spinal position. It can also help to relieve pain from arthritis.”

Head over to the HSL website to learn more about lower back pain and how it can be helped by finding the right chair for you here: 

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