Go Ahead. Slouch on the Couch. It’s Good for Your Lower Back Pain.
Sitting Upright Too Long Creates Sustained Spinal Compression. SSC Causes Disc Degeneration, Spinal Height Loss, And Lower Back Pain.
Everybody knows that sitting for long periods of time is detrimental to our health. But we still do it. The average US adult spends 9-10 hours a day sitting.
We sit our jobs. We sit at computers. We sit watching TV. We sit in automobiles as passengers or drivers. The older we get, the more time we spend sitting.
The vertebral discs in your spine expand, contract, and stay hydrated when we keep moving. But, when we sit for long periods of time, they stay compressed, resulting in height loss and disc degeneration.
Sitting puts even more pressure on your spine than standing. And if you are sitting and hunched over a computer, the pressure is even greater.
Most of us sit so much that going to the gym or the yoga studio or taking a walk is not enough to offset the damage of sitting too much. We are “actively sedentary.”
2017 Study Results: Reclining Postures Counteract the Spinal Compression of Vertebral Discs That Happens with Prolonged Upright Sitting.
The most common advice given to counteract prolonged sitting and its effects is to “take breaks”, “get your body moving”, or “alternate sitting with standing”.
But the findings of a recent scientific study reported in Applied Ergonomics1 suggest that alternating upright sitting with Propped Slouched Sitting (PPS), or even reclining postures, could be even better. Because it directly addresses the trunk load and loss of spinal height that can cause of neck pain and lower back pain.
The study measured changes in the spinal height of 34 healthy adults (19 men, 15 women), ages 15-35, without current neck or lower back pain.
Subjects started in a supine position to normalize spine height, followed by loaded upright sitting, followed by Propped Slouched Sitting. The results were the same with and without PSS lumbar support.
The study concluded that 10 minutes of PPS postures can reverse the damaging effects of prolonged upright sitting.
Don’t Be Afraid to Recline on The Couch or in Your Beach Lounge Chair. It Could Be a Game-Changer for Your LBP pain.
Researchers in this study note that their findings support a similar conclusion with other reclined seating positions, which could also be expected to increase the level of unloading.
If you have ever judged yourself for slouching on the couch or in your beach lounge chair, you can stop that. Your body knew what to do all along.
When you do recline, be sure that you are comfortable and propped with pillows and blankets in a reclining position that allows the vertebral discs to unload.
Note: It is never a good idea to spend all your time in one posture or another and that applies to a reclining position. Remember it has been recognized as an alternative to seated and standing postures which load the spine. So, stand some, sit some, and recline some.
Increased spinal height using propped slouched sitting postures: Innovative ways to rehydrate intervertebral discs, Applied Ergonomics 66 (2018) 9-17.
Medical Disclaimer: This article contains information intended to assist you in improving your health and well-being. However, the information presented is offered only as-is for informational and educational purposes. It is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a medical professional.