Low Back Pain? Check your Chair Height

Do you get lower back pain from sitting? Unfortunately most of us do these days. One of the biggest keys to successfully managing back pain is consistency. Small chunks of consistent attention in the right areas can create lasting change in the long run. Like a lot of things in life — simple in theory, difficult to maintain.

Did you know that proper chair height can have a big influence on pelvic position and back/hip tension? Over the years I found that most people sit in chairs that are too low. Low chair height increases pressure on your lumbar spine, adds tension to your hip flexors, and makes it quite difficult to activate your core and glutes — which are the very two muscle groups that reduce back pain and tension!

The picture below shows thighs parallel to the ground. This position puts your pelvis in a posterior (backwards) tilt, which is hurting your posture as your upper body now rolls forward to compensate. It also puts unnecessary strain on your organs and makes it difficult to breathe naturally.


Ideally, your hips should be higher than your knees, giving you a neutral pelvis and ability to sit on your sitz bones (the boney bones in your bum). Notice in the photo below how much straighter the spine is in this position.

seated posture

Next we move onto core and glute activation. Many people know that having a stronger core and active glutes helps to reduce back pain, but if your hips aren’t in correct alignment, this is very difficult to do.

You only need to do two things when standing up from a sitting position: draw your belly button in (towards your spine), and then squeeze your glutes to stand. Drawing the belly button in activates your TVA (transversus abdominis) which increases postural stability, spinal support, and makes it easier to engage your glutes. Having more active glutes will allow your hip flexors (located in the front of your pelvis) and lower back to relax since they are now not driving the movement.

These simple two cues can be used in many day to day situations such as: at the office, getting up from the couch, picking things up from the ground, getting out of the car, and so on. The difficult part is doing it consistently enough so that it becomes habit. After diligent practice this can be your new motor pattern so that your pesky back pain will get better with time instead of worse.

Have any questions or want to learn more, book an appointment today!