Why Your Back Hurts from Sitting for Too Long

About the Author: Harminder

Categories: Articles Back Pain

4 out of 5 adults suffer from back pain.


If you’re here, you are currently one of those 4…


For now.


Many back pain sufferers struggle with what's causing their back pain, not realizing the 8 or more hours they spend sitting could be the main culprit, since the human body is not designed for prolonged sitting.


A common reason your back may hurt is from bad posture while sitting in a slouched or hunched over position.


When you slouch, your spine curves in the opposite direction, putting pressure on the discs (shock absorbers between the bones of the spine) onto the nerve, causing pain.


In a more detailed explanation…


You tend to look down at your screen, phone, or desk, and your head tips forward.


The human head weighs, on average, 10 lbs. Any slight angle forward puts a strain on the muscles of your neck and upper back.


The further that you lean your head forward, and how long you keep that straining posture, determines how much extra work your neck and upper-back need to do.


Together with this, when your shoulders are rolled forward, this will cause you a lack in lumbar support which doesn’t encourage good posture, and will result in back pain.


Though this may be the most common reason to experience pain in your back, there are still other causes, and may be associated with underlying medical conditions such as:


Herniated disc


Pain in your lower back is one of the first things you’ll experience if you have a herniated disc.


Pressure on your disc has caused it to push out of its normal shape. This puts strain on the spinal cord and nerves in the area, causing pain and even numbness.


Older people often get a herniated disc as a natural part of the aging process. It can also happen as the result of a fall, lifting something the wrong way, or a repetitive motion injury.


Muscle strain


This is also called a lumbar strain. It occurs when you overstretch or twist your back too much.


You may experience pain that extends down into your buttocks but not your legs.


A strain will also make your back stiff and hard to move. While most people recover from a strain within one month, it can also become an ongoing problem if it’s due to poor sitting posture and you don’t take steps to correct it.




This refers to pain of the sciatic nerve, which runs down the base of the spine into the back of your legs. It can be caused by various conditions, including a bone spur on the spine, tightness of your butt muscles, etc.


The pain can be anything from a dull aching sensation to what feels like an electric shock.


Sitting for long periods can make it worse, but you’ll usually only have it on one side.


Degenerative disc disease


When the discs between the bones in the lower spine are damaged, it’s called lumbar or degenerative disc disease.
As we age, our disc being to dry out and, as a result, we can get lower back pain and even “sciatica” like symptoms.


Spinal stenosis


The bones in the spine each have a hole in the middle that form a tube through which the spinal cord runs. This connects the nerves throughout your body to your brain.


When that tube isn’t wide enough, the cord gets squeezed and can cause pain, weakness, or numbness. This is called spinal stenosis.
Spinal stenosis usually results from a bone spur or shrinking of disc size as we age.



A Simple Guide to reduce Back Pain from Sitting


Have Good Posture


Sit up straight with your shoulders relaxed and your body supported against the back of your chair.


Try putting a towel between your lower back and your seat. Keep your feet flat on the floor.


Never Rest An Achy Back…. For Too Long


Lying is one of the worst things you can do longterm.


This can make back pain worse and lead to other complications. It’s important to get up slowly and start moving again.


Exercise has been found to be one of the most effective ways to relieve back pain quickly.


Sleep Better


When you have back pain, sleeping can be hard.


It can be a vicious cycle because when you don't get enough sleep, your back pain may feel worse. A poor sleep position can also aggravate back pain.


Try lying on your side.


Place a pillow between your knees to keep your spine in a neutral position and relieve strain on your back. If you need to sleep on your back, slide a pillow under your knees.


Be sure to sleep on a comfortably firm mattress.


Ice and Heat


Regular applications of ice to the painful areas on your back may help reduce pain and inflammation from an injury.


Try these several times a day for up to 20 minutes each time.


Wrap the ice pack in a thin towel to protect your skin.


After a few days, switch to heat. Apply a heating pad or warm pack to help relax your muscles and increase blood flowing to the affected area.


You can also try warm baths to help with relaxation. To avoid burns and tissue damage, never sleep on a heating pad.


Consult With a Hands-On Doctor of Physical Therapy


Physical therapists in Fort Myers can teach you how to sit, stand, and move in a way that keeps your spine in proper alignment and alleviates strain on your back.


They also can teach you specialized exercises that strengthen the core muscles that support your back. A strong core is one of the best ways to prevent more back pain in the future.


Now you’ve learned why, and how you should manage your back pain…


We would love to hear from you after you’ve done the steps to help you out.


Call our office at 239-223-0484 and schedule your appointment today!


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About Author: Dr. Scott Gray


Dr. Scott Gray is an internationally recognized and expert physical therapist specializing in sport, athletic, and back, and neck injuries. He is the inventor of a revolutionary form of treatment called the GRAY METHOD. This type of treatment unlike others addresses the CAUSE rather than just your SYMPTOMS with a full-body approach.




“Physical Therapy, Fitness, & Performance Tips From Dr. Scott & the Back in Motion Team”