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The holiday season is often filled with socializing with friends and family at parties, get-togethers and socials. During all this socializing and when we are enjoying some quiet downtime, we tend to find ourselves sitting more than usual. This may be at the dining room table, on the sofa or in the car driving from one relative’s house to another. Although we often consider sitting down to be a position of comfort and relaxation, it can definitely create issues for us and can actually cause significant back pain.

When we sit, there is a lot of compression that happens in the spine. As a result, when we are sitting for longer periods of time, on low surfaces or soft surfaces, back pain can develop. Our back often gets achy and can feel very stiff when we stand up to move out of the chair. At best, it can be uncomfortable for the few minutes it takes for us to limber up as we get moving again. At worst, excessive sitting can aggravate osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, disc herniations and other conditions that cause back pain. The good news is, there are some simple strategies you can use this holiday season to reduce the risk of developing or worsening your lower back pain.

Strategy #1 – Choose a firmer seat with good back support

Soft seats that you sink into cause the soft tissues to stretch. Although this may initially feel comfortable, if you’re staying for any length of time, it can cause excessive pressure on the spinal joints and discs causing back pain. Additionally, it is helpful to have a small roll or cushion behind the lower back to support the inward curve of the spine. This can relieve some of the pressure caused by sitting and increase your likelihood of being able to sit comfortably, without back pain, while you socialize.

Strategy #2 – Choose a seat that is the right height for you

It is important to choose a chair that fits your body well; it shouldn’t be too high or too short. If your feet are dangling, the chair seat is too high and likely to cause back pain. The seat is too low if your knees are higher than your hips. When sitting with your back on the backrest, your feet should be able to be planted on the floor and your knees should be at hip height (or slightly lower).

Strategy #3 – Get up often

The soft tissues around the spine will be less likely to stiffen if you get up frequently. When you stand up and change position, the elastic tissues “bounce back” to their original length and will likely tolerate another round of sitting without back pain. It is ideal to aim to get up at least every 20 minutes to optimize this “bounce back” phenomena.

Back pain can definitely put a kink in your plans! Hopefully these tips can help you minimize back pain and maximize your enjoyment of the holiday season. If you are experiencing back pain, consider booking with a Zoomers’ physiotherapist for an assessment to understand what steps you can take to improve your comfort today.

Book an assessment with Zoomers

Use our online booking tool to find a time that works for you!