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5 Ways to Combat Sitting Stiffness and Pain

Experiencing back/buttock pain or stiffness whilst sitting?

Or are you getting pain when you change from sitting to standing?

Have you wondered what it is and why you’re getting it?

Someone recently mentioned that considering the amount of people that complain of lower back pain whilst sitting, there must be something wrong with the design of our spine or body. However, the truth is that it has more to do with user error than design.

We abuse our bodies and contort them into awkward positions for hours on a chair, in a car, or even on a bike. We stay in one position and when something starts to ache, we think there is damage or something is wrong. Instead, this ache is because there is something right with the body and back. It is sending out warning signals that it is time for a change of position. If your foot goes tingly or numb from sitting on it, you will move it and get the blood flowing again. The reason you moved is because it sent you a warning signal of discomfort. Why is it that when our backs do the same, we ignore them and just continue with the task at hand?

Eventually the pain gets severe and we can no longer ignore it. Now the pain follows us into other activities and we continue to wonder why. Once again, it isn’t the design, this is all due to user error. The design is telling us to move but we override it and just stay put. Override it for too long and it eventually shuts you down with real pain.

So what can we do to avoid this total shut down? Start by becoming aware of the warning signals and then heed them. Get up and move.

But what exactly must I do? Some say just move, do anything other than the activity you’ve just been doing for the last hour and do that for a full minute. But I’m going to give you a bit more constructive feedback on what might help you. We’ll look at structures affected by adopting seated postures for extended periods and how to counter it.

How extended sitting affects the body:

  • The hip flexors get tight because the we keep the hips bent.
  • The hamstrings get tight because we keep the knees bent.
  • The buttock muscles are in a stretched position so they become weak.
  • If you cross your legs, you weaken the outer buttock muscles and tighten the inner muscles.
  • These tight and weak muscles can put pressure on the hip joint.
  • A bent back puts pressure on discs and nerves, tightens lower tummy muscles and weakens lower back muscles.
  • A straight back puts pressure on the spinal bones, tightens lower back muscles and stretches the abdominal muscles.

All of the above only occurs with EXTENDED periods of sitting. I’m not saying that you are sitting incorrectly, I’m saying that you are sitting in one position TOO LONG.

Let’s Combat this….


sitting pain walk

It would be ideal to work your way to walking for 20 minutes 3 times per day. Don’t start there, work your way up and go according to your comfort levels. Swinging the arms and walking with purpose, not shuffling and looking at the toes.

2.Hip flexor stretches.

sitting pain quad stretch

Stand on the left leg, bend the right knee backwards and grab the foot behind you. Keep the knees inline with each other. You may feel a light stretch in the front of the thigh already. If not, tuck your tail in. You should feel a stretch in the front of the thigh now. Hold for 30 seconds, repeat 5 times.

Alternatively kneel down on the ground on a mat. Take the left foot forward bending at the left hip. Keeping your back straight, gently push your hips forward. You will feel more weight on your left foot and a stretch in the upper half of the front thigh on the right. If not, gently tuck the tail in, this should give the sensation big the stretch.

Hold for 30 seconds, repeat 5 times.

3.Hamstring stretches.

Stand on your left leg, place your right heel on a step in front of you. Now lift your tail bone up or gently hollow your lower back (not too much, like 1cm). Some of you will already feel the hamstring stretching on the right. If not, begin to gently bend from the hips keeping the lower back straight (slightly hollowed or tail up maintained) until you feel the hamstring stretch. You should feel it in the centre of the right hamstring (back of thigh). Not behind the knee or into the calf or the left hamstring.

Hold for 30 seconds, repeat 5 times.

4.Gluteal muscle or buttock strengthening.

Lie on your back on the ground (on a mat). Bend one knee at a time and place the feet down flat quite close to the buttocks. Squeeze your buttocks and press through the heels to gently raise the buttocks off the ground. Predominantly, you should feel the buttocks contracting, not too much in the back of the thighs or the front of the thighs. Your back should be relaxed, so don’t over extend the spine when you lift the buttocks. Hold it for 10 seconds and slowly lower yourself down.

Repeat 10 times, holding for 10 seconds each time. Work your way towards 3 sets.

5.Move every hour.sitting pain move

By changing your position on a regular basis you take the pressure off. Some ideas are to march on the spot for 1 minute, reach your arms up slowly to the sky a few times, gently squeeze your buttocks whilst standing (10 times). Do either the standing hamstring or hip flexor stretch. Simply standing up and putting your arms behind your back for 1-2 minutes or lying on your tummy for 1-2 minutes can dramatically reduce lower back pain and stiffness if done every time your back sends you a warning signal. Try wait until the ache from sitting subsides before you sit down again.


Although this advice and information is based on sound knowledge it is still followed at your own risk. I cannot take any responsibility for injuries or health conditions that may arise as a result of my advice. Videos and advice are generalised and cannot replace the individualised advice provided after a medical assessment by your local healthcare professional.

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