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Sacral Spine Pressure: Is My Chair To Blame?
Lower back pain is the most common cause of disability and leave of work in much of the world, and this trend is rising. Most people are born with a healthy, strong back. But after years of stress constantly being put onto your spine, you may start feeling some pain.
Think about your daily lifestyle. Are you treating your back as mindfully as you could be? Consider how you sleep, how you stand, and most importantly, how you sit. It is imperative to support your back in these positions to the best of your ability.
Most people bend their spines when sitting, at least a little. However, sitting with a distorted back frequently will weaken your spine. Even if you do not feel any significant pain when sitting, you could still be hurting your spine by using poor technique.
Additionally, when your spine is weak, it is more prone to injury when lifting and exercising. Spine injuries may include strained ligaments and herniated intervertebral discs. These ailments can cause dull chronic backaches and mechanical back pain. If you feel that your back is constantly giving you problems when you’re active, it is likely due to a frail spine.
Your Sacral Spine
One part of the spine that is particularly vulnerable is the sacral region, also known as the sacrum. It is located at the bottom of the spine and wedged between the fifth section of the lumbar spine (L5) and the coccyx or tailbone.
The sacrum bone is shaped like a triangle. If you rub your finger down the center of your back, you can feel it protruding slightly in your lower back. The sacrum is made up of five segments labeled S1-S5 that are connected together.
The sacrum forms the back wall of the pelvis and is a connector for your sacroiliac joints, the joints in your hip bone. The sacrum contains four openings on each of its sides, which the sacral nerves and blood vessels run through.
There are a multitude of ways to strengthen your sacral spine and prevent injury. Simply making some changes to your daily habits can go a very long way. Learn more with all33 about how to protect your sacral spine!
Adjust The Height
Not many people realize how important the height of your chair is when sitting. If you’re sitting in an adjustable chair, you’re going to want to play around with the height until your back and hips are positioned properly.
The height of your chair determines how your pelvis is angled. Sitting in an awkward state can put pressure on the pelvis, as well as certain muscles like the quadriceps and hamstrings. Keeping these muscles relaxed plays a huge role in preventing back pain.
It also impacts how much curve your spine has, as the human spine has a natural curvature.
Not only do you want to sit at a height that’s comfortable, you also want to make sure you sit in a way that is accommodating to your spine.
To find the perfect height for you, look at the height of your knees compared to the height of your hips. Your knees and hips should be level with each other. If your hips are higher or lower than your knees, you’re probably putting strain on your pelvis.
At the right height, the bottoms of your feet should be touching the floor. Your feet should be able to reach the floor without putting strain on the back of your thighs. If your chair is too high for you and you find your feet dangling, try placing a footrest underneath you. A book or a piece of wood works well, or you can invest in a foot hammock to place beneath your desk.
Aligning yourself with your chair and desk properly is very helpful in relieving pressure on the sacral spine. Even if the settings on your chair are optimized, the way you sit can still hurt your back.
Obviously, you want to avoid slouching and bending your spine in awkward ways. But you also want to push your chair in and sit with your back firmly attached to the back of the chair. Avoid sitting in chairs without a strong backrest, because they won’t give you the support that you need.
Once you’ve positioned yourself, sit with your chest raised, facing forward. Your hips and your knees should also be facing forward.
Ensure that you're not stretching forward at all. If you’re using a computer or reading from a book, make sure that it is level with your eyes and you’re not looking down to see it—that’s what leads to the dreaded “tech neck.”
A recent study analyzed the impact that sitting has on simulated spinal discs. The study found that strain on the spine can be relieved by sitting with a more open angle between the trunk and thigh, also known as the hip joint angle.
Seat Tilt and Rotation
To truly accommodate for the natural curve of your spine, you’ll need a chair that has a seat tilt feature. A tiltable seat allows for the pelvis to be flexible and mobile while sitting. It also lets the user adjust their hip joint angle more accurately.
It is also beneficial to have a chair seat that can rotate and turn around on its axis. Being able to turn your body freely in both directions while sitting will prevent your hips from stiffening up and tightening
Another huge element in protecting your sacral spine is to take breaks from sitting. One of the most common reasons why people experience pain in that region is sitting for too long.
Perhaps you are in a situation where you have no choice but to sit for hours. In this case, you should try to sneak in as many breaks from sitting as possible. Even if it’s just for a few seconds to pace around and get a good stretch in, do it. Even if it’s just to go to the bathroom for a quick minute, it’s worth getting up from your desk.
It’s understandable to want to be as productive as possible and to get your work done. However, sitting down and working for hours at a time can be very harmful to your spine, and can cause serious pain. In the long run, you’ll be more productive if you take care of your body today.
You should also stretch out your back as much as possible. In addition to keeping it strong, you want to keep it flexible to lower the risk of back pain even further.
One stretch you can do from the comfort of your home is the knee-to-chest stretch. This stretch relieves your hips, thighs, and glutes from strain and helps loosen the muscles in those areas up.
To perform the stretch, lie on your back, keeping both knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Then, extend your left knee straight out or keep it bent. Pull your right knee up to your chest, clasping your hands at the top of your shin.
Drop your spine all the way down until there is no weight being put onto your hips. Inhale deeply, and exhale. Hold this pose for another minute or two. Then, repeat the process with your other leg.
Additional Tips for Relieving Sacral Spine Pressure
Remember that just because you feel comfortable, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your back is positioned correctly. Without the utmost attention to these minute details, you are likely going to put strain on your sacrum by sitting.
It may be tempting to kick your feet up and lay back while you work. However, it is ideal to commit to a proper sitting technique if you plan on being in that position for an extended period of time. Avoid the use of elevated leg rests that shorten the length of your hamstrings. This action creates a pull on the pelvis.
For additional comfort, put a cushion behind your knees. This way, the back of your knees won’t be rubbing against your chair the whole time you’re working. Increased pressure in that area can cause discomfort and decrease blood circulation.
Back pain or leg pain is usually caused by an injury to the intersection of the lumbar spine and sacral region. This segment of the back takes on a huge amount of stress in certain positions like running or sitting.
A strong sacrum is rarely fractured except in serious cases of injury, like severe impact to that area. If you take care of your spine and ensure that it is in tip-top shape, you probably won’t need to worry about lower back pain anymore.
However, if your pain lingers and you’ve taken all the possible steps to ensure your spine’s health, you may be suffering from a deeper health condition. For instance, patients with osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to develop stress fractures and fatigue fractures in the sacral spine.
Here at all33, we are committed to providing the most comfortable, spine-friendly sitting experience possible. Our BackStrong chairs are the only ones in the world that allow the pelvis a full range of motion. They can be a game-changer when it comes to avoiding pressure on your lower spine that could eventually lead to pain.