Low back pain? – sit it away (with a wedge)!


by Carl Parnham RMT

How many of you out there are stuck at a computer desk all day? I bet you have back problems right? Do you feel like sitting too long is hindering your every day life? Now you hurt so much that, even if you wanted to exercise more, it hurts too much to try? I know, I know…I shouldn’t be using a laptop like this; but no matter how ergonomically correct your workstation is, you may have problems if you slouch in your very expensive chair. But try this simple idea out – it may have a big impact on your back while you sit!


First let’s look at the curve of you low back and see what is really going on down there. So don’t do any of this to the point of hurting, and move within the limits of what feels OK!  Stand up and gently stick your butt out, this will give you an over exaggerated “Lordotic” (that’s medical speak) or concave curve in your low back – this also known as a hyperlordotic curve.


Now go the other way with your pelvis – gently tilt it the other way until you reach as far as you can go by activating (contracting) you abdominal muscles.  This gives you a convex or “hypolordotic” curve, leaving your low back looking flatter or slightly rounded back.  This is likely what your back normally does when you slouch in your chair all day.

You don’t want either a “hyper” or “hypo”-lordotic curve in you spine. Why you might ask? Well, for a hyperlordotic curve, your low back muscles (commonly the pain is from your Quadratus Lumborum muscles between your pelvis and ribs) are tight, circulation is compromised and this compresses your intervertebral discs (the pillows between the bones in your spine). For a hypolordotic curve, it causes your discs to bulge posteriorly (in the direction behind you), which happens to be in the direction of your spinal nerve roots (the basis for much of pinched nerves and sciatica, or referred pain down the leg).  See how it feels in different positions?

Alright, I challenge you to try this simple change to the way you sit.  It will make a big difference!


Next time you are at work and slouching in your chair, grab your jacket or a towel (or you can buy a special wedge for this), and roll it up and place it just a little bit under the back of your gluteal muscles (butt), just enough to get you sitting a bit more forward and up right, with a slight lordosis (concave curvature) in your lower back. This will take the compression off your vertebral discs and give your back muscles a break. This can train you not to slouch back in your chair, and engage your abdominal muscles properly to take some of the load, and to create stability in your core (you don’t need a six pack to do this!).  This may even give you relief all the way up your back and even through your neck!  This doesn’t replace activity and needing to condition your muscles in exercise, but it may just give you more benefit than anything to start.  This might just be the beginning of you getting enough relief that you’ll be inspired to go to the gym.  Imagine, you could eventually start a routine of working on your abs and back so you could do more than endure that marathon chair event you do every day! You could even thrive in it!

Save your back and use your coat everyday – you can even invest in a special wedge for your work chair. They are called a stress wedge cushion, and you can buy one for about $25 at Healthcare Solutions or order it from Amazon and have it delivered to your office or home.  We are stocking some at the Acupuncture Turning Point for those who want to pick one up at your next treatment.

I bet you’ll see some results and become more aware about how basic posture throughout the day can be a more important beginning than exercise itself.  I bet some of you will be so impressed you’ll want to go out and get another wedge for home, or your significant other, or your boss, or a friend…….?