Best sitting position for lower back pain

Most people experience low back pain after 8-9 hours a day sitting at a work desk.

Besides that, we also tend to spend long periods of time sitting on a commute or even hanging out with friends, which can make the pain worse.

The human back was not made for much sitting, resulting in lower back pain.

Thankfully, you can do many things to help with lower back pain, lumbar spine pain, and other sitting problems. Check out our helpful guide here!

Understanding Lower Back Pain

Understanding lower back pain

In our research and testing, we discovered that you can practise different sitting positions daily that alleviate lower back pain and be able to sit properly.

It was key for our research to find the best sitting position by first understanding lower back pain. Let's get acquainted:

Causes and Risk Factors

After speaking with many medical experts, chiropractors, and ergonomists, it was no surprise that poor posture was unanimously the number one cause of lower back pain.

Posture refers to the alignment and positioning of the whole body, including the upper extremities, when sitting, standing, or engaging in other activities.

Holding bad body positioning for a long time can put excessive stress on the lower back (lumbar lordosis), leading to pain and discomfort.

Bad posture is caused by:

  • Slouching and Rounded Shoulders
  • Forward Head Position
  • Prolonged Sitting
  • Wrong Lifting Techniques
  • Bad Sleeping Positions
  • Insufficient Muscle Strength
  • Psychological Factors

People who experience the following are at greater risk of lower back pain:

  • Sedentary Lifestyle
  • Occupational Factors
  • Old Age
  • Obesity

Symptoms and Effects on Daily Activities

In our experience of keeping bad sitting postures for a long time, we discovered the following common symptoms and effects of low back pain to the entire body, especially legs, thighs, and hips:

  • Aching, Stiffness, and Sharp Sensations
  • Reduced Range of Motion
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Sleep Disruption and Fatigue
  • Low Productivity
  • Emotional and Psychological Impact

These symptoms may vary from person to person, depending on the underlying cause and severity. Some may experience issues with their legs and hips, others may experience foot pain.

Make sure to visit a doctor for appropriate treatment.

Physical therapy, pain management techniques, lifestyle modifications, and ergonomic adjustments can help manage all these symptoms. And often, all you ever need is rest.

Importance of Proper Posture and Lumbar Support

Here are the benefits of using the correct posture and lumbar support:

  • Spinal Alignment
  • Muscular Balance and Support
  • Improved Breathing and Blood Circulation
  • Enhanced Digestion
  • Enhanced Physical Performance
  • Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders

Best Sitting Position for Lower Back Pain

Best sitting position for lower back pain

Here are a few tips you can use to reduce pain when using different sitting positions on a chair:

Choosing the Right Chair

Look for a supportive chair with proper lumbar support, a good backrest, and adjustable height.

The adjustable cushion should accommodate the length of your legs and allow your feet to rest flat on the ground or a footstool. It also alleviates low back pain!

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Correct Posture While Sitting

The American Chiropractic Association supports that bad posture is the leading cause of lower back pain. To avoid this discomfort, they highly recommend sitting with a straight back, relaxing the shoulders, chest, and head up, and laying both feet flat on the ground.

Knees should also be kept at a 90-degree angle with the hips slightly positioned higher than your knees bent. Engage your core muscles and avoid sitting slouched and hunched forward. Don't stay in the same position for long periods too. Hence why it is important to find the best sitting position!

Proper Ergonomic Chair Position

Proper chair positioning correlates directly with overall spinal health and comfort. Opt for a chair that provides comprehensive support for your spine's natural curves. Upon adjusting the chair's height, certify that your feet rest flat on the floor or that your thighs are parallel to the floor if you're using a footrest.

Chairs equipped with armrests should be positioned to let your arms gently rest, keeping elbows close to your body and encouraging relaxed shoulder posture. For more detailed insight, visit: what is the best set up for an office chair?

Adjusting the Workspace and Ergonomics

To achieve proper desk posture at your desk, ensure your workspace is ergonomically optimised.

What we like to do in the office is ensure we are all seated with our elbows at a 90-degree angle when typing on the keyboard. Our monitors are always placed at eye level, avoiding neck and upper back strain.

Investing in ergonomic chairs is also a big plus when you want your employees to be productive and happy!

Incorporating Lumbar Support

To manage lower back pain from sitting, using back support devices help keep the least pressure on your spine.

If you do not own an ergonomic chair, a lumbar roll or cushion on your regular chair keeps the natural curve of your lower back and maintains its spinal alignment while sitting.

Back support also relieves the pressure on spinal discs and muscles.

Practising Mindfulness and Regular Breaks

These mindful breaks from a sitting posture improve blood flow and reduce muscle stiffness, helping you keep motivated all day.

Take short breaks from sitting every 30 minutes. Stand up, stretch your legs and thighs, and move around.

All You Need To Know About Ergonomic Chairs

How to Adjust the Height Of An Ergonomic Chair

Stepping into the arena of ergonomic comfort begins with the correct height adjustment. Different individuals necessitate varied chair heights, so ensure you tailor yours to meet your requirements. Commonly, ergonomic chairs feature a lever that, when pulled, modifies the seat height.

By applying pressure to the chair with your weight, it descends, and without weight, it ascends. Enjoy experimenting; discover advice on whether it's better to have a chair too high or too low and find your perfect seat height by shifting until you discern the ultimate seating sweet spot.

Best Ergonomic Chair Height

Defining the 'proper' chair height relies on your physical proportions and workspace setup. Most users find that a seat height ranging from 16 to 21 inches off the ground fits their needs. This configuration enables your feet to grace the floor completely, aligning your thighs horizontally and making your arms level with the desk surface. Additionally, it's important to consider seat width and depth to ensure overall comfort and support.

Other Considerations

While adjusting your chair's height, it's crucial to promote spinal alignment and muscle equilibrium. Your knees should form a 90-degree angle, your feet should gently touch the floor, and your eyes should align with the top-third of your computer screen.

If your feet can't reach the ground, consider using a footrest. This guidance on how to make your chair more ergonomic can help. Ensuring a correct and individualized setup dramatically diminishes the risk of discomfort and long-term injuries.

Is It Better To Sit High Or Low In A Chair?

Maintaining a chair height that tilts towards the higher side can catalyze significant ergonomic benefits. Taller chairs support good posture by lowering the likelihood of a rounded back or slouched shoulders. This position keeps your feet flat on the floor, supporting the spine's natural curve and offering a more comfortable and productive work experience.

What Happens If Your Chair Is Too Low?

Maintaining an extremely low chair setting comes with potential risks. In such a scenario, the degree of flexion in your hip joints tends to increase drastically. Unfortunately, the majority of individuals' hip muscles lack the flexibility to handle this stressful position comfortably. If you tend to sit with your knees positioned higher than your hips, your seating arrangement might be causing your lower back discomfort.

The Optimal Height For Chairs

How high should chair be for sitting?

For utmost comfort and enhanced productivity, your chair should be set so your feet touch the ground and your knees form a right angle, typically making 16 to 21 inches off the floor the sweet spot. However, with individualized comfort being paramount, having an adjustable chair adds a significant benefit as it allows for personal tailoring. To dive deeper into the subject, review this resource from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

What is a comfortable seat height?

An average fixed height for comfort and good circulation is from 16 inches to 21 inches from the floor. This measurement strikes a balance, preventing discomfort associated with too-high or low chairs. Chairs higher than the suggested height may increase pressure under your knees, inhibiting blood circulation, while lower chairs can put unnecessary weight on the area between your tailbone and pubic bone. Averaging a comfortable seat height of 17 inches can significantly contribute to better blood flow and nerve health.

Alternative Sitting Positions to Prevent Lower Back Pain

Alternative sitting positions for lower back pain

We've found effective alternative sitting positions to reduce the chances of low back pain. Try these out:

Sitting on an Exercise Ball

The unstable surface of an exercise ball forces you to engage your abdominal and back muscles promoting active sitting positions.

Ensure your feet are planted on the ground to avoid any mishaps.

Kneeling Chair

A kneeling chair is a supportive chair designed to shift the body's weight forward with an open hip angle and upright position.

This way, your spine is aligned, and stress on the lower back is reduced.

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Reclining Chair

Reclining chairs, such as zero-gravity chairs or ergonomic recliners, provide a much more relaxed sitting position.

These chairs allow the body to recline and distribute weight across the whole chair's surface, relieving pressure on the lower back.

Active Sitting

Active sitting involves using chairs or cushions that promote movement so you don't stay in one sitting position for hours.

Examples include swivel chairs, balance discs, or seats with a dynamic or rocking base.

Transitioning Positions

Standing, stretching, and strengthening exercises help keep a healthy lower back too, especially if you sit for a long time. Here's what you can do:

Proper Technique to Stand Up

From a seated position, follow the following steps to stand up correctly:

  1. Scoot to the edge of your chair with your feet close to your body.
  2. Place your feet flat on the floor slightly wider than hip-width apart.
  3. Engaging your core, lean forward with your hips, keeping your spine neutral.
  4. Push yourself up with your heels and leg muscles. You can bring one leg a bit back to gain leverage.
  5. Avoid bending forward at the waist, which could strain your lower back.
  6. Once you are standing, ensure your spine is in good form.

Establishing a Lying Down Position

As you are about to transition to a lying down position, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure you lie on a firm mattress or supportive surface.
  2. When lying on your back, bend your knees slightly and place a pillow or rolled-up towel under them to maintain the natural curve of your lower back.
  3. Place a pillow between your knees to align your spine when lying on your side.
  4. Lower yourself gradually to a lying down position preventing sudden jolts and twists that could cause sprains.

Stretching and Strengthening Exercises

Improving your flexibility and strength can help relieve lower back pain. A doctor can advise specific exercises for you. Here are a common few to consider:

Overhead Shoulder Stretch

This helps elongate the neck and lower back. To perform this exercise, follow these simple instructions:

  1. Starting with your right arm, raise it overhead and bend your elbow, placing your right hand toward your left shoulder.
  2. With your left hand, pull your right elbow towards the left side and hold to feel a stretch along the entire right side of your arm and obliques.
  3. Repeat on the left arm.

Downward Facing Dog Stretch

This pose alleviates tension on the entire back and upper body. To perform this pose, follow these simple instructions:

  1. Place your feet flat on the ground and raise both hands overhead as you are seated.
  2. Bend forward at the waist and allow your neck and upper back to be positioned parallel to the floor.
  3. Place your palms flat on your table, and keeping a straight back, hold this position to feel a stretch before slowly releasing and returning to your original seated position.

Seated Pigeon Trunk Twist

This stretch is particularly beneficial for those experiencing sciatica. To perform this exercise, follow these simple instructions:

  1. Sitting up straight, lift your right leg and lay your ankle on your left thigh.
  2. With both hands, grab your right knee and lift it to your torso with both hands.
  3. On an exhale, twist your body to the right and hold for a few seconds to feel a stretch.
  4. Inhale, then slowly return to your original position.
  5. Repeat on the left side.

Child's pose

This is one of our favourite gentle stretches that promote relaxation. To perform this pose, follow these simple instructions:

  1. Start by kneeling on the floor, and sit back on your heels.
  2. Lower your upper body forward and extend your arms before you without losing your kneeling position.
  3. Rest your forehead on the floor and hold for a few seconds to feel a stretch.

Expert Recommendations and Tips

Healthy habits and lifestyle

Think you've had enough? Find out some more expert tips on how to alleviate lower back pain:

Using Angles and Positions for Optimal Comfort

Sitting at suggested angles can put on the least pressure on the back. Here's what you can do:

  • Aim for a slightly reclined position of around 100 to 110 degrees when seated. This reduces tension on the lower discs of your spine.
  • Place yourself towards the natural curve and alignment of your spine. Use pillows and cushions for support if you have to.
  • When in front of a computer, always put the monitor at eye level so you won't strain your neck and upper back.

Selecting the Best Chair Types

Consider chairs with extra support or ergonomic features like:

  • Adjustable Height
  • Adjustable Armrests
  • Enough Seat Depth and Width
  • Extra Padding
  • Swivel Function

Benefits of Adjustable Chair Height:

  • Personalized Comfort
  • Improved Productivity
  • Reduced Muscular Strain

Assessing If Your Office Chair Is Too High

A comfortable chair allows you to rest your feet flat on the floor. If your toes are elevated or your feet lightly graze the floor, your chair needs to be lowered. Proper seating position requires your knees to form a right angle, aligning parallel to the hips.

Adopting Healthy Habits to Support Good Posture

We recommend incorporating these rigorous and consistent habits, that healthy individuals use, into your life:

  • Stand up, stretch, and move around every 30 minutes or so. Avoid prolonged sitting.
  • Incorporate exercises that strengthen your core muscles, such as planks and yoga poses.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. A bigger body weight results in increased pressure when sitting, which causes more pain.
  • Check your spinal posture and make adjustments as needed.
  • Avoid slouching or hunching forward when using electronic devices or reading.

Frequently Asked Questions

Got more questions? We've got you covered!

What Is the Best Chair for Lower Back Pain?

The best chair for lower back pain is using an ergonomic chair to sit on with proper back support, adjustable seat height, pan depth, and armrests.

It is also best to choose a firm seat and backrest to promote spinal alignment.

How Should I Sit at My Desk to Avoid Lower Back Pain?

To sit at your desk in a way that avoids lower back pain, follow these tips:

  • Sit with your back straight and keep your shoulders relaxed.
  • Keep both feet flat on the floor or rest them on a footrest.
  • Place your monitor at eye level to avoid straining your neck and upper back.
  • Keep your keyboard and mouse at a comfortable height and distance to avoid unnecessary strain on your wrists and arms.

How Often Should I Take Breaks to Prevent Lower Back Pain While Sitting?

Stand up, stretch, and move around every 30 minutes to an hour. This should prevent stiffness, skeletal muscle imbalances, and strain on the lower back.

Can a Lumbar Roll Help With Lower Back Pain While Sitting?

Yes, a lumbar roll can be beneficial for lower back pain while you sit.

A lumbar roll is a small cushion that supports the natural curve of your lower back, promoting proper spinal alignment. It can alleviate the pain caused by a poor sitting position.

What Stretches Can I Do to Relieve Lower Back Pain While at Work?

In addition to the stretches mentioned above, you can perform the following stretches in the comforts of your work desk:

  • Seated Forward Fold
  • Seated Figure-Four Stretch

What Is The Optimal Chair Height for Knee Comfort?

A practical way to find the best chair height for your knees is to stand beside your chair and align the apex of the seat with your kneecap. This adjustment should allow your feet to rest solidly on the ground once seated. If pressure builds near the back of the seat, consider elevating your chair for improved comfort.

What Is the Ideal Office Desk Height?

Your stature, the tools you use, and your typical tasks are just a few variables that affect the appropriate desk height. While a typical desk height is approximately 28 inches, this may fluctuate based on your individual needs and your height.

For instance, if your height falls between 5'8 and 5'10, this desk height is particularly suitable for you. If you're not sure about the normal height of a desk, check out our detailed guide.


Lower back pain is common as we age.

But if you keep yourself mindful of the proper sitting positions, practise strengthening exercises, do stretches, and maintain a healthy weight, any discomfort should be manageable!

However, if the pain does persist, it is best to see a doctor for a personalised diagnosis and treatment.

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