Which sitting mistakes cause back pain?

Do you have a sedentary job and can barely move because of back pain? Try to calculate how much time you actually spend in this position every day! Prolonged and incorrect sitting can cause significant damage to the spine and is also a common cause of disc prolapse.  

Sitting behind a computer, at a desk or even behind the steering wheel for long periods of time undoubtedly takes a toll on our bodies.  It is usually associated with poor posture, which contributes to a number of serious consequences. The most common problems are back pain - especially of the lumbar and cervical spine, and joint pain. However, a sedentary lifestyle also carries the risk of becoming overweight, developing diabetes, muscle weakness and cardiovascular disease. To care for your health and body, it is essential to learn to sit properly and, above all, to observe the rules of sitting.

3 most common sitting mistakes


This is the most common type of incorrect sitting, which is mainly caused by a low table surface and a poorly adjusted chair distance. In addition to back pain, it is manifested by pain in the head, shoulders and arms. What happens when you slouch in a chair? The torso tilts forward, which causes the cervical spine and head to move forward. The shoulders stoop while the pectoral and interscapular muscles are shortened. Constriction of the rib cage hinders proper breathing and oxygenation, putting pressure on the lungs, abdomen and other internal organs. This also increases strains on the intervertebral discs, which do not receive sufficient oxygenation and blood supply. Over time, the pressure can cause prolapse. 

Leaning to one side resting on one elbow

This common method of propping ourselves up is more or less subconscious, to relieve one side of the body or the other. Its primary consequences are strain on the elbow, relaxation of the deep stabilising muscles and unilateral pressure on the spine and abdominal organs. It also puts pressure on the discs, which can again become strained due to insufficient blood supply and oxygenation, even leading to prolapse. Leaning also has a negative effect on the function of the heart, stomach and other digestive organs. 

Sitting with legs crossed

This poor, or downright bad habit for the vast majority of us, primarily causes extreme strain on the hips. The hip joint shifts to the wrong position, altering the position of the pelvis, while the trunk rotates to the opposite side, which can lead to scoliotic spinal misalignment. Pressure on the discs increases, leading to pain and blockages. Crossing the legs is associated with improper blood circulation, which can result in varicose veins, swelling and even the risk of blood clots - thrombosis. Prolonged sitting with one leg over the other increases blood pressure, which adversely affects the cardiovascular system. Typical manifestations of this position are tingling, prickling and numbness in the leg. 


  • Make sure your seat is at the correct height: feet flat on the floor, knees at right angles.
  • Rest your entire back on the back of the chair.
  • Make sure the torso is upright, the head points upwards without the chin dropping, and the shoulders fall downwards.
  • Do not sit with your legs crossed (risk of blood clots, hip damage).
  • Do not sit on the edge of the chair.
  • You should not sit for more than 3 consecutive hours.
  • If you sit at work for 6 hours or more, take 10-minute breaks every 2 hours.
  • Alternate sitting - standing - stretching positions!
  • Stretch regularly, for example by stretching your arms and performing slight rotations to both sides.
  • You can use a large gym ball to sit on - consult your doctor or physiotherapist about its correct use.

Start treatment early!  ADVICE.ME

Back pain is a very unpleasant and life-limiting factor. Sitting is one of the positions that put the greatest strain on the intervertebral discs. The consequence can be a prolapsed disc, which is typically manifested by lower back pain radiating into the lower limb.

If you have been experiencing this type of pain for more than three months and if you belong to a group at risk of suffering from prolonged sitting, do not delay in seeing a doctor. A disc prolapse will be confirmed as the source of the pain by imaging methods, ideally MRI, and since nothing can replace the spine, you should start treatment as soon as possible.  Interventional pain management with a wide range of minimally invasive and endoscopic spine procedures can provide an effective treatment solution. Find out if they may be suitable for you.