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“I’m trying to rest my back but it isn’t helping. Could sitting be causing my back pain?” -Daniel

Daniel, you have a good thought that if you are in acute low back pain that resting may be a good option.  However, you want to make sure you are not sitting to the point of it adversely impacting the healing process either, so it is a fine line.  Let’s discuss ‘therapeutic dosage’ as a concept in order to elicit an understanding in how to deconstruct what is/is not beneficial with regards to your back pain.

Let’s say that you are prescribed a certain medication with a 20mg dose.  If you take 5mg, you will not have enough of the medication in your system to have a positive impact.  By contrast, if you take too much, you will likely experience side effects.  20mg is the ‘therapeutic dosage’ for your medical issue.  In the context of your low back pain, you may find often through trial and error, that sitting beyond an hour (arbitrary number) makes your back pain worse upon standing—in other words, you took too much medication.  If that is the case, try resting for 30 minutes, which is now a therapeutic amount.  After that, continue with your day while staying active as tolerated.   

“Be sure that you are in a position that provides optimal release and relaxation.”

The other item to discuss is HOW you are sitting.  In general, if you are ‘resting’, be sure that you are in a position that provides optimal release and relaxation.  This helps activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is pivotal for the healing process.  For some people with back pain this may mean sitting on a couch with your back rounded, for others, it means sitting upright.  Trust what your body is telling you and go with that.  Keep in mind that most back pain is temporary and that movement is typically better than staying still.  Keep enjoying your life and performing your daily tasks as much as you are able—that is the key. 

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