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Ancient Secret to Back Pain Relief – Just by Sitting Right

By Nutriomo Labs Team | 210 views

I’m always in pain, especially when I sit.

For some of us, back pain is a constant companion. It may not even matter what we’re doing. At our work desks, eating at a diner, or even sitting on the couch watching TV. The pain in your back is always screaming, “Stand up! Sitting hurts!”

You might’ve tried a standing desk. But eventually the standing gave you too much pain as well. And now you’ve kind of accepted the fact that you’ll always be in pain when you sit.

But that’s not true.

Some people have been finding success in treating their back pain with “spinefulness”. Also known as “spinal mindfulness”.

There’s a misconception that Americans tend to sit a lot more than other cultures in the world. We’re made out to be sedentary, lazy asses who don’t want to get off the couch. But data from a study in the University of Arizona begs to differ.

Studying a society of modern-day hunter-gatherers named Hadza, who live in Tanzania, anthropologist David Raichlen says that they spend over 70 minutes on daily exercise, climbing trees for honey and digging for nuts in the hard ground.

The amount of physical activity they do each day is already significantly more than what most Americans do per week.

You’d think that the Hadza won’t have time for sitting around when there’s food to be gathered and porcupines to hunt. After all, their survival depends on it, right?

That’s what Raichlen and his colleagues wanted to know. So they put heart-rate trackers on almost 50 Hadza adults for 8 weeks and tracked how much of the day was spent on just... doing nothing. What they discovered was shocking.

The data revealed that the Hadza are resting approximately 10 hours daily. Compare that to the 9 to 12 or 13 hours of daily sitting that Americans do, according to a 2016 study. It’s not much of a difference.

But what the Hadza don’t have is our painful back problems.

As you can see, it’s likely not about how much we’re sitting, but how we’re sitting.

In a National Public Radio (NPR) article, Nomi Khan, an orthopedic surgeon in Palo Alto, says that most people don’t sit properly, and that puts a lot of stress on their spines. Changing how we sit would help to reduce back pain issues

During the last century, the art of how to sit has been lost to most Americans. There’s one specific way that everyone is sitting that causes much stress to their backs. And you don’t even realize it’s happening.

If you look at how someone sits, from the profile, you’ll likely see that their spine is curved into a C shape, or something similar.

Two obvious indications: Their butts are curved under, and their shoulders are curved over. Like a hunchbacked villain in a Disney fairytale. This posture hurts the back greatly, according to Khan.

Over time, this pressure exerted on the intervertebral disks in the spine may degenerate your disks, cause bulging on one side, push on your nerves, or even cause rupture.

Spinefulness expert Jenn Sherer has a picture in her studio, of a man weaving at his loom, working for countless hours daily, like how we do with a computer or TV, but his spine’s straight as a ruler.

Some other rural countries in the world have inhabitants who exhibit similar posture. In fact, this particular posture can be found even in our recent history.

Early 20th century drawings and images tell us that Americans used to sit with their backs straight, and shoulders pulled back naturally, just like in the picture above. Nowadays, you see this posture in babies and younger kids.

How did we get to where we are, then?

Sherer has a theory: One issue is that our society tends to attempt correcting our upper bodies. All our lives we’ve been hearing the phrase, “Sit straight,” and we all puff our chests up and out. But Sherer completely disagrees.

She believes that’s the cause of our back pain; puffing up our chests will only make things worse.

Rather, we should focus on the lower part of our body: the pelvis. Your butt, in other words.

Sherer likens this to stacking up toy building blocks. If the foundation blocks are not firm and sturdy, the top blocks don’t stand a chance. So the best way to lessen back pain is to change the position of your pelvis – the foundation of how you sit, explains Sherer in the NPR article.

If you take a look at how someone sits, from the profile, you’ll likely see that their spine is curved into a C shape.

Now imagine a tail attached to you. If you’re sitting in that C shape, you’re essentially sitting on your imagined tail. You’re now in the posture of a frightened dog.

In order to un-curve that C shape, you’d have to get that tail out from under your legs! Sherer’s advice: Bend over the right way when you sit down.

Each time you sit, you’re bending over somewhere. It could be at your waist, which most people do, turning your spine into a C-shape. If you bend at your hips, it will instead allow you to have better sitting posture.

Here’s a trick Sherer shared: Spreading your feet 12” apart, place your hand on the pubic bone (where Adam – from the Bible – is covered up with a fig leaf).

As you bend with your knees (for example, to pick something up from the floor or to sit down), keep your back straight. Let your “fig leaf” hand follow the motion of your pubic bone towards the back.

A “crease” is then created between your legs and pelvis, also positioning your butt behind your spine, like the tail that you’re supposed to have.

After this, you should be relaxing your chest and back muscles. This allows the remainder of your spine to form a straight line, as opposed to a C-shape.

What’s astonishing, Sherer explains, is that you may actually feel your tight leg muscles begin to stretch or even relax. When your pelvis is “untucked” while sitting, your hamstrings can finally stretch and your quadriceps muscles are relaxed.

If, however, your quads don’t feel relaxed or if your hamstrings aren’t feeling stretched, your posture is likely incorrect.

You might actually be using the low back muscles to stick your butt further out. And that translates to even more pain in your back.

So you should practice with a mirror or someone correcting your posture until you get a good sense of the right posture.

It won’t be easy to correct a sitting posture that has been wrong for years. It may even take months of work before you start to loosen up and feel prolonged relief.

But the initial pain relief that you’ll feel as you correct your posture will be worth every bend indeed.


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[] Doucleff, Michaeleen. “To Fix That Pain In Your Back, You Might Have To Change The Way You Sit.” NPR, NPR, 13 Aug. 2018,
[] Hallett, Vicky. “Staying Fit Isn't A New Year's Resolution For These Hunter-Gatherers.” NPR, NPR, 3 Jan. 2017,
[] Diaz, Keith, et al. “Patterns of Sedentary Behavior in US Middle-Age and Older Adults: The REGARDS Study.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 1 Mar. 2016,
[] Doucleff, Michaeleen. “To Fix That Pain In Your Back, You Might Have To Change The Way You Sit.” NPR, NPR, 13 Aug. 2018,
[] Doucleff, Michaeleen. “To Fix That Pain In Your Back, You Might Have To Change The Way You Sit.” NPR, NPR, 13 Aug. 2018,