How to Sit With a Slipped Disc | Chiropractor Warns

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If you have a slipped disc, it is critical that you know how to sit with a slipped disc to help ease the pain. Sitting up straight may seem uncomfortable initially, but it will help keep the disc in place.* Most people can find relief without resorting to surgery with patience and dedication.* This post will share a few tips on how to sit with a slipped disc.

As a general rule, when sitting with a slipped disc, you should always keep your hips 5-10 cm above your knees and use lumbar support to relieve pressure on these disks. You must not sit for long periods, or it will cause more pressure on the disc in question.

Many people don’t know about sitting with a lumbar disc herniation, but proper posture is crucial to healing. I am an expert in ergonomics, and I have written a book about sitting and appeared on national television on the topic. I have also engineered ergonomic seat cushions, orthopedic mattresses, and ergonomic neck pain sleep pillows. It is best to get your seating right to achieve better posture and comfort while sitting. I am confident that I can provide some helpful insights about sitting and lumbar disc pressure!

What Is a Slipped Disc?

slipped disc model

**I want to start by stating that ‘slipped discs” are colloquial or noncontemporary terms typically used to describe Herniated Discs. They can be classified as either protrusions or extrusions, depending on the shape of the displaced material. A layperson’s term is commonly used to communicate medical terminology such as a disc herniation, even though “slipped disc” is often used to describe this condition.**

A ‘slipped disc’ is when a soft cushion of tissue between the bones in your spine pushes out.* It’s painful if it presses on nerves. It usually gets better slowly with rest, gentle exercise, and painkillers.* * If possible, getting your slipped disc sitting position right is the best way to find relief.*

It is always a good idea to avoid activities that strain your back and keep your spine straight and still as much as possible. You should also try to avoid sitting in 90 degrees or less position (i.e., couches or soft chairs) or standing for long periods. Gentle exercise like walking or swimming can help to improve your symptoms, and painkillers may be used to help relieve pain. In most cases, a slipped disc will eventually heal on its own, but some cases may require surgery. *

Can Sitting Cause Slipped Disc?

chart of spine disc pressure seated at different angles

When it comes to sitting, it’s best to get your seating right. The human spine is compressed 40% more by sitting instead of standing. Sitting puts you at a higher risk for sciatica, a herniated or slipped disc, degenerative disc disease, and lower back pain. The best way to avoid these risks is to maintain good posture while sitting and to avoid sitting for long periods. If you must sit for prolonged periods, take frequent breaks to stand up and stretch (as shown below):

chart of time spent sitting, standing and moving

How to Sit Herniated Disc | Best Way to Sit Comfortably

If your back hurts, sitting up straight is not a good idea. A trunk-to-thigh ratio of approximately 110 degrees can reduce spinal disc pressure by 35% for those with chronic pain.

This picture illustrates the importance of maintaining good posture. Especially if you have back pain, slouching and hunching forward can cause severe back problems. As a result of this posture, your spinal cord is compressed, and your back is put under a lot of stress. Sitting with your hips higher than your knees will allow for a more comfortable position and can reduce the risk of pain, stiffness., or spine degeneration.

seat cushion diagram comfortable sitting

I found that most people feel comfortable when their hip height is 3-4 inches higher than the knee with both feet flat on the ground. The easiest way to achieve this is by using a well-designed ergonomic seat cushion.

However, I soon realized that there could be flaws in this approach. For example, if the seat cushion is too soft, it can cause the hips to sink and the knees to come up, defeating the purpose of the exercise. In addition, if the seat cushion is too hard, it can be uncomfortable and make it challenging to maintain good posture.

As a result, it is vital to find a balance between comfort and support when choosing an ergonomic seat cushion. By taking the time to find the perfect seat cushion, you will be setting yourself up for success in achieving optimal ergonomics.

I’ve written a complete hands-on review about the best sitting position for sciatica, and here is what I tested best with my sciatica patients.

Ergonomic Seat Cushions

On this TV show, I explain how to adjust the seat angle for people with back pain:

How Can You Tell if the Seat Cushion Is Ergonomic?

There are key features that all ergonomic seat cushions must have to be effective:

  • The cushion should be firm yet comfortable. It should support your back and hips to maintain good posture even after sitting for long periods.
  • The cushion should be adjustable. This allows you to customize the amount of support and comfort you receive, depending on your needs.
  • It should be breathable. This helps to keep you cool and comfortable even when sitting for extended periods.

diagram how to tell if seat cushion is ergonomic

By looking for these critical features, you can be sure that you are getting an ergonomic seat cushion that will help you stay comfortable and supported all day long.

Slipped Disc vs. Disc Bulge

spinal stenosis x-ray

Herniated disks are also called ruptured or slipped discs, although the whole disk does not rupture or slip. Only the small area of the crack is affected. Compared with a bulging disk, a herniated disk is more likely to cause pain because it generally protrudes farther and is more likely to irritate nerve roots.*

Should You Walk With a Slipped Disc?

man walking with sciatica

Generally speaking, the best way to combat this pain is knowing how to sit with a slipped disc, remain as active as possible, and stretch often. Low-impact activities, such as walking, are best during this time. You should also ensure that your seating is comfortable and supportive to avoid putting unnecessary strain on your back muscles. If you can maintain a healthy level of activity, it will help prevent the discs from slipping again.

Can You Do Sit Ups With a Slipped Disc?

woman doing sit ups with low back pain

Sit-ups are best avoided with a slipped disc (herniated) as they can cause significant damage. This exercise puts pressure on the lower back and may even worsen the herniated disc. The best way to get your seating right is by using a pillow or folded towel to support your lower back. This activity will help to lessen the strain on your back muscles and help you to maintain good form during the exercise. Various other exercises can be done in place of sit-ups, such as Makenzie exercises, which can provide a more gentle and effective workout for those with a herniated disc.

Is Hanging Good for Slipped Disc?

hanging exercise slipped disc

Hanging creates space between the vertebrae, pulling the bulging disc back into its correct position. However, this counterintuitive treatment does not actually relieve pressure on the nerves and the surrounding soft tissues. Instead, it can cause further damage to the discs and nerves. If you are suffering from a slipped disc, see a chiropractor specializing in non-surgical spinal decompression. Spinal decompression is a safe and effective treatment that can help to relieve pain, improve range of motion and promote healing.

Is Sitting Bad for Slipped Disc?

While sitting does put extra stress on your spinal disc, it is not necessarily bad for a slipped disc. Sitting may help to reduce the pain associated with a herniated disc. However, it is always best to use an ergonomic seat cushion to minimize the amount of stress on your back. Additionally, you should avoid sitting for long periods, get up, and move around every 20 minutes to keep your back healthy and prevent further injury.

Conclusion

Keep your hips 5-10 cm above your knees when sitting with a slipped disc, and use lumbar support to relieve pressure on these disks. You must not sit for long periods, or it will cause more pressure on the disc in question. If you are experiencing pain when sitting down, standing up, or walking, please consult a doctor as soon as possible. Many treatments available can help alleviate the pain and restore function to the area. Thank you for listening.

 

 

 

Sources:

  1. Ganguly, A. and Ganguly, D., 2018. Evidence-based tropical phytotherapeutic treatment protocol for lumbar slipped disc: An approach with biochemical, anatomical, functional disability and radiological parameters. IOSR Journal of Dental and Medical Sciences17(9), pp.01-20.
  2. Seitsalo, S., Schlenzka, D., Poussa, M. and Österman, K., 1997. Disc degeneration in young patients with isthmic spondylolisthesis treated operatively or conservatively: a long-term follow-up. European Spine Journal6(6), pp.393-397.
  3. Dalgleish, P.H., 1962. The Latrogenic “Slipped Disc”. The Journal of the College of General Practitioners5(1), p.167.
  4. Crisp, E.J., 1952. Conservative Treatment of the Lumbar Disc Syndrome.
  5. Lambrechtsen, J., Sørensen, H.G., Frankild, S. and Rasmussen, G., 1992. Use of thermotherapy, ultrasound and laser by practising physiotherapists. Physiotherapists’ choice of treatment. Ugeskrift for laeger154(21), pp.1478-1481.
  6. عويس, رزان نعيم, المجلي and ماجد فايز, 2018. The Effect of a Proposed Program of Therapeutic Exercises in the Treatmet and Rehabilitation of Patients with Slipped Disc in the Lumbar Region. Jordanian Educational Journal3(2), p.3.
  7. Chiarelli, L., Slipped Disc vs. Disc Herniation vs. Disc Bulge By Dr. Liv Chiarelli.
  8. Karupiah, Rajandra Kumar. “Your “spine” is not just a flexible, solid piece supporting your body. It is actually made up of small moving parts stacked up on top of each other, called vertebrae, that have to work together in order to provide support to your spinal cord. The key players responsible for holding together the vertebrae are your cushion-like pads, aka discs. Any damage or injury to these discs results in slipped or herniated discs, causing discomfort and pain.”
**As a service to our readers, Axial Chairs provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of the last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinicians.
Dr Lawrence Woods DC

Dr Lawrence Woods DC

Founder

My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort.

With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience in Ireland as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sitting for living a happy and healthy life.

I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and I am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.

 

Dr Lawrence Woods

My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort. With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sleep for living a happy and healthy life. I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.

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