How to Sit To Ease Lower Back Pain and Neck Pain?

How to Sit To Ease Lower Back Pain and Neck Pain?

When it comes to pain and injury, sitting posture may be the most commonly blamed cause there is! As a physiotherapist I am always giving advice about posture and I also commonly hear my patients say that their pain is coming from the way they sit.

So how much does bad sitting posture truly contribute to pain? Is there a perfect posture we should be maintaining when we sit? What are ways that we can improve our posture? This article will address all of these questions.

The way you hold your body while sitting determines how much force is placed upon your neck. If you sit in a position that puts stress on your neck for prolonged periods, it may put you at an increased risk for pain and discomfort. For example if you sit in a slumped posture with your head poking forward for hours at a time you can overwork your upper trapezius muscles. These muscles are located between the tip of your shoulder and the centre of your neck and are commonly irritated when you have bad posture habits. This is because these muscles work to keep you in upright positions.  When you sit in more slumped positions for longer periods of time, your upper traps need to work extra hard to keep you upright. This can make these muscles sore and tight. Additionally, when you are sitting for long times without not moving positions, you will be getting less blood flow to the upper trap muscles. This decrease in oxygen delivery can also cause symptoms. 

It is not just neck pain that poor sitting habits can contribute to. It can also cause:

  • lower back pain
  • Tension headaches
  • Temporomandibular (Jaw) Dysfunction

Researchers found that posture can even affect your emotional state whether good or bad!

It is getting more imperative that we adopt good posture habits, as we are spending more and more time on computers and phones. So what does good sitting posture look like?

5 Sitting Tips To Prevent Lower Back Pain and Neck Pain

There are many things you can do to improve your sitting posture habits. Setting up in a good “home-base” posture, taking frequent sitting breaks and completing desk mobility exercises can all help. Try following the 8 tips below the next time you need to sit for a prolonged time!

1.) When sitting you want to make sure your hips and knees are at a 90 degree angle. This puts your back, hips and knees in a neutral posture which can reduce excess stress on those areas.

2.) Next you want to make sure your feet are flat on the ground. If your chair is too high, place a stool underneath your feet so that they are on a flat surface.

3.) Next keep your back in the neutral position by sitting up straight. Placing a cushion or lumbar roll between the back  of the chair and your lower back can help you remain upright.

4.) If you’re working on a computer your keyboard should be placed where your arms are at about 90 degrees. Your forearms should also be supported by your desk or by the armrests on your chair. 

5.) Your neck should be vertical when you are sitting. To ensure this, you want to put the top of your monitor at eye level where you’re looking straight ahead.

6.) Use the first 5 tips to establish what I call a “home-base” posture. Try to spend time in this posture when you can. However, it is important to know that there is not one perfect posture. Try moving into different postures throughout the day, trying not to spend too much prolonged times in one posture.

7) Take frequent sitting breaks. Taking breaks where you stand or walk in your home can reduce stress on your neck and lower back and improve pain.

8) Complete desk mobility exercises throughout the day. These are exercises that can be completed at your desk throughout the day. They work to reduce stress on your neck/back and improve blood flow to those areas. See below for examples of desk mobility exercises!

These 8 tips will help prevent lower back and neck pain while sitting. This is especially true if you have sciatica, where sitting for too long can aggravate your symptoms. 

Back pain with sitting to standing courtesy of INNOVA Integrated Wellness Centre (Read the caption)

If you see a reputable chiropractor for posture-related neck or back pain, they will most likely prescribe you desk mobility exercises that you can complete at your workspace. Below are examples of simple mobility exercises that are commonly prescribed to reduce pain and stiffness.

1.) Stand up straight and roll your shoulder forward and back 10 times. Then roll them in the opposite direction 10 times. This will help loosen up your shoulder and upper back muscles.

2.) Next, return to a sitting position. Interlock your fingers together behind your head. Now press your chest upwards while looking up at the ceiling, and squeeze your shoulder blades together until you feel a nice stretch. Hold for 10 seconds. 

3.) Return to a neutral position. Now turn your neck only to your left side until you feel a good stretch and hold for 10 seconds. Then repeat with your right side.

4.) Lastly put your arms straight in the air with your right hand on your left palm in an overhead position. Lean your trunk to one side until you feel a stretch along your side and hold for 10 seconds. Then repeat to the other side.

These exercises can be very effective for relieving posture-related neck and back pain, when combined with employing good posture habits and frequent sitting breaks. 

Now for some, this pain relief will only be temporary and they will need a more personalized plan to address their pain. That’s where a chiropractor can help. A chiropractor may give you what’s called an adjustment to reduce your pain. They also may give you tips on how to improve your posture and prescribe exercises to strengthen the postural muscles.

If you would like to get a free consultation with a Chiropractor near you just use the search box on this page

Check out these great tips to help eliminate your back pain courtesy of Spine & Sports Clinic (Read the caption)


This appointment is your opportunity to tell us what hurts and discover whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care is a good fit for you! During this session, you will talk with a physiotherapist or chiropractor on a phone call (or online) and create the right care plan specifically for your pain. There is no obligation on this session is to find out whether physiotherapy or chiropractic care can help you getting back to doing the things you love in life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Spending some time in a leaning back position is OK. However, you should make sure to change postures frequently and take sitting breaks throughout the day.

If sitting causes you lower back pain, then walking may be one of the best things you can do to ease the pain. You should consult with a chiropractor to determine whether walking is a suitable activity to address your pain.

Generally, this is not advisable because it decreases support for your lower back. Placing your feet on the ground will help to stabilize your lower back.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information presented in this blog post is for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, treatment or a diagnosis, consult with a medical professional such as one suggested on this website. The Clinic Accelerator Inc. and the author of this page are not liable for the associated risks of using or acting upon the information contained in this article.

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