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How To Sit Mindfully

Updated: Jul 21, 2020

Sitting mindfully, in a "neutral" position, so that you do not irritate your low back pain is important. Many back conditions develop due to sitting with poor posture. In fact, many "bulging disc" issues result from sitting with a rounded/slumped low back.

Remember the picture of the Neutral Spine in the last post (see pic below: imagine person sitting facing left)? Our spines are

happiest when this neutral position is kept - for the low back, this means maintaining some arch in the low back when sitting. When we sit like this, the discs don't "bulge", the muscles in the back stay strong, and the tendons and ligaments in the spine are not over-stretched.

But maintaining an arch in your low back while sitting is next to impossible when you have pain and your back muscles are weak. In fact, if you try to sit tall with an arch in your low back when your back muscles are weak, it can actually increase your pain due to muscle fatigue.

So the best bet is to use a pillow behind your low back to help you maintain your arch without the effort.

The kind of pillow you use is a bit of a trial and error process. There are so many on the market. But we are all built differently - some of us have small arches in our low back with small hips, some have larger arches with small waists and wider hips. The point is that the thickness of the pillow needs to be different depending on your body type. It should feel "strange" when you first use it, but you should either feel NO pain in your low back, or "the least amount possible". Again trial and error. Through the years, I have advised patients who have access to an Amazon account to purchase 2 or 3 to try and then return the ones that don't feel good. Here is a pillow I have found helpful:

But even with the right lumbar pillow, you still need to use it correctly. Many people have a habit of sliding their rear end forward in a chair... or leaning forward with their head and shoulders.

Both of these postures round, or flex, the low back which creates irritation and increases inflammation and pain (sometimes in the moment, but often it is later that you feel the pain).

So, step one: use lumbar pillow; step two: buttocks all the way back in a chair or sofa; step three: lean shoulders/head back towards back of chair.

It is important to use a lumbar pillow/support in ALL sitting situations: at home on the sofa, in a

chair, at the computer, while driving, even when sitting in a public place like a park bench or restaurant. Small inflatable lumbar pillows are easy to take with you like this:

These tips above will definitely help your low back pain, but learning to change your sitting habits over the longterm will take practice. Here is a video (part 1)on sitting on my Youtube Channel to help. And video (part 2). See the Mindful Moment below and keep practicing. You've GOT this!!


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