Patients often wonder whether sitting or standing is better for their lower back. Unfortunately, sitting is inevitable and may be harmful to the lower back.  Most people sit all day due to the consequences of advancements occurring in our society. If you are sitting all day-especially in a chair not designed for your body- it is only a matter of time before you encounter lower back pain.

The Bloomberg BusinessWeek article ” Your Office Chair Is Killing You” by Arianne Cohen explains how the seated position does nothing to recruit the core muscles. A repetitive cycle of weakness is reinforced with sitting, regardless of the quality of the chair.

The most common symptom of prolonged sitting is weakness in the gluteus maximus, otherwise known as the “buttocks”. The gluteus maximus is the muscle that powers walking, stair climbing, and countless other tasks. If the buttocks muscles are not required to work, you can easily develop lower back pain.

We have a tendency to roll our pelvis backwards when seated for long periods of time. This slouching position places stress on the discs, which potentially leads to long term problems such as disc herniations.

To prevent this type of problem you can:

1) Adjust the height of the chair. Most people will benefit from adjusting their body so their hips are positioned slightly higher than their knees.

2) Find an office chair that supports the natural curve of your lower back. This will discourage the backwards slouching motion. Your back and shoulders should also make contact with the back of the chair.

3) Get out of your chair and take a break. Go for a walk and workout those muscles that are being weakened by prolonged sitting. Make a work spaces that includes an office chair and a standing space.


  • Bloomberg BusinessWeek