Disclaimer: Bluehillresearch.com is a reader-supported site. We may earn a commission if you click on links and make a purchase. Opinions are 100% our own, and shouldn’t be considered as financial advice. 

Last Updated on June 1, 2022

Nowadays, more and more people are spending the majority of their day sitting. Unfortunately, our bodies were meant to move. The unnatural posture you’re forced to maintain while sitting can have devastating effects on your health.

One of the most prevalent effects is back pain.

Here are some statistics that show just how prevalent back pain is and why it’s become such an important issue to tackle for society.

Back pain is one of the most common health ailments out there. As many as 65 million Americans report some kind of back pain [1].

A whopping 8 percent of all adults report they experience chronic back pain that limits their daily activities [1].

What’s worse, it’s costly to treat. It’s currently the 6th most costly condition in the USA and it results in a total of 83 million days of work lost annually [1].

As you can probably tell, back pain is a major issue that statistically you are likely to experience yourself at some point. Because of this, you may want to implement preventative measures into your day-to-day life to minimize your risk.

One of the more popular ways to prevent back pain is to avoid sitting for prolonged periods throughout the day.

A lot of people have opted for standing desks to address the issue of sitting too much.

Is standing better for your back than sitting?

This article will detail exactly why standing is indeed better than sitting.

Why Is Sitting Bad For Your Back and Health?

a woman stands at her desk in her office

There is a multitude of problems that come with sitting at your desk all day. Here is a detailed explanation of most of them.

1. It Can Result In Back Pain

One of the things you will quickly notice when you are in a seated position for too long is that it can completely wreck your back.

It’s likely to result in back pain because it places unnecessary stress on your back muscles. It also puts your spine in an unusual position.

It can get even worse if you aren’t sitting properly. Unfortunately, the majority of people slouch at their desks.

This means you are not only putting your spine in a poor position by sitting, but you’re further compounding the detrimental effects by slouching too.

Your spine is meant to be in a straight line.

When you sit, you automatically force it to curve. When you slouch, you can force the ligaments within the spine to stretch and strain your spinal discs [2].

2. Weight Gain

Another reason sitting is so bad for you has to do with you not moving.

When in a seated position, you aren’t moving. As a result, you aren’t burning calories. Simply standing is a good way to burn calories while you are working.

While the calories burned are only slightly higher than sitting, they are higher. Also, excessive sitting has been linked to a higher risk factor for developing obesity.

When you are standing, you are much more likely to move around more often. Not many people get up out of their chairs when they are doing something while sitting.

3. Risk Factors

You are going to put yourself at an increased risk of developing a lot of problems when you sit too much.

This includes increasing your risk factor for obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and more.

How To Sit Without Hurting Your Back?

a woman sits with good posture at her office desk

A lot of people don’t have a choice whether to stand or sit at work.

If you work at an office, short of convincing your employer to buy standing desks, you’ll be stuck in a seated position.

There are certain things you can do to improve your back health and general health while sitting. Here are some of the best things you can do.

1. Focus On Ergonomics

First things first, you want to try to optimize your ergonomics as much as possible.

There are plenty of things you can do to improve your ergonomics while sitting. You want to measure everything out so you put yourself in an optimal seated position.

Generally, this means having your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. It also means having your monitor at eye level. That way you aren’t stretching your neck upwards or downwards while looking at the screen.

You also need an office chair with armrests that are desk level. You don’t want your arms positioned too high or too low.

2. Get a Better Chair

If your office chair isn’t adjustable, it’s time to replace it.

You need to have as many adjustments as possible with your chair to ensure you can put yourself in the most ergonomic position.

You also want to ensure that the office chair you get has plenty of lumbar support.

You want a good amount of support in your lumbar region to keep your back and spine as straight as possible while seated.

You also need to focus on maintaining optimal spinal alignment by keeping your head up and your core engaged throughout your seated sessions.

3. Get Up Frequently

You are going to want to get into the habit of getting up out of your chair and walking around every 30 minutes or so.

This is a good way to keep yourself from being in a suboptimal seated position for too long. It will help you improve the circulation in your lower body.

It will also get you moving so you don’t stress your muscles and ligaments too much.

Simply getting out of the chair and stretching a little bit can do wonders for your back health and general health.

How To Relieve Back Pain From Sitting Too Much?

1. Move

One of the best things you can do to relieve the back pain you are experiencing from sitting too much is to get yourself moving [3].

By moving, you can increase blood circulation which can limit inflammation. This alone can be a good and natural recipe for ailing a bad back.

2. Massage

Getting a massage is one of the best things you can do when you are looking to treat a back injury or a back that hurts from prolonged sitting.

A massage is great because it can reduce inflammation throughout the body including your back.

It will also boost blood circulation which can help improve your back pain directly.

3. Strengthen Your Back

One of the best ways to relieve back pain or prevent it entirely is by strengthening your back. A strong back is much less likely to suffer from these problems.

Because of this, you want to try to incorporate more strength training back exercises into your routine.

Why Exactly Is Standing Better For Your Back?

1. Less Compression

One of the biggest issues associated with sitting with your back health has to do with the compressive forces that exist.

These forces are much lower when you are standing [4].

While having good lumbar support can mitigate some of the compression, you aren’t going to be able to make it equal to standing.

2. Better Circulation

As mentioned, you get a lot better circulation when you stand versus sit. This alone can help with your back health because it delivers more circulation to your lower body.

A lot of people suffer from lower back pain when they sit too much.

Summary: So, Should You Stand More?

Absolutely. Standing is much better for your back and general health than sitting.

While you cannot always avoid sitting, standing is always a preferable option. Because of this, you should look to stand whenever possible.

Even so, you want to get yourself moving more while standing. You don’t want to stand in a static position because it would limit the benefits you get from standing in the first place.

However, if you are considering getting a standing desk due to the marketed benefits, the answer is, “you should.”

Standing can help prevent back pain and assist you in alleviating existing back pain along with providing you with many other benefits that make it more than worth the investment.

References:

  1. https://hpi.georgetown.edu/backpain/#
  2. https://www.uclahealth.org/spinecenter/ergonomics-prolonged-sitting
  3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/dont-take-back-pain-sitting-down
  4. https://www.athletico.com/2014/02/26/sitting-v-standing/