Updated: Apr 26, 2020
Most Americans are very sedentary, meaning that we sit or lie down a lot and aren’t as active as generations in the past. Some of that has to do with how jobs have changed. Office and computer-centered work has skyrocketed in recent years, meaning those employed who do these jobs spend the majority of their day sitting. Also, with the rise of social media, television, and the internet, a lot of our free time is taken up sitting or lying down as well.
Sitting is especially hard on the back, as most of us don’t maintain good posture while we are seated. Our butts tuck under, shoulders roll forward, and we get an unnatural curve in our spine.
So, how does this bad posture affect us?
1. The Sacroiliac (SI) Joint
The SI joint is at the base of the spine and connects your spine to your pelvis. As I’ve discussed before, joints can become particularly painful during pregnancy as the hormone, relaxin, causes them to relax and expand in order for your body to grow and stretch as it needs to. This relaxation can cause pain in the SI joint, which is why a lot of women complain of lower back pain during pregnancy.
Sitting with your butt tucked under can also put a lot of undue pressure on the SI joint and create pain in your lower back. What I mean when I say “butt tucked under” is when your hips shift forward while seated and your lower back curves under. Typically, in this position, shoulders will also hunch forward, and you get a rounded middle back. While this position may seem comfortable in the moment, sitting this way long-term can produce a lot of back pain.
**As a side note here, this can also apply to standing. You can stand with this “butt tucked under” posture and it will generate the same kind of pressure on your lower back.
2. Tight Butt Muscles
Tight glutes can be caused in a number of different ways. Whether it’s sitting all day at the office or not stretching properly after working out, tight glutes can actually lead to lower back pain. If muscles remain tight for an extended period of time, they will not be able to function properly. When one part of your body isn’t functioning properly, another part steps in to try to pick up the slack. Your lower back muscles are being worked overtime and since they aren’t as big as your glutes, they fatigue much quicker and that’s when the pain will start to set in.
What can you do to correct these problems?
1. Be mindful of your posture
Whether you’re sitting or standing, think about where your butt is – is it tucked under or is your spine in natural alignment? You don’t have to be obsessive about this, no one has perfect posture all the time. But just check yourself throughout the day – set reminders if you have to! Consciously take time to think about how you’re sitting or standing and if it’s not optimal, take a moment to fix it.
2. Add more movement to your day
Even if you have a desk job where you do have to sit the majority of the day, find time that you can get up and move. Take a walk down the hallway or go up and down a couple of flights of stairs. Take a walk outside during your lunch break. There are so many little ways we can add movement throughout the day and break up our pattern of sitting. This keeps the blood flowing, gives our backs a break, and your glutes a chance to stretch.
3. Stretch your glutes
Stretching is so gravely underrated. So often, we go to the gym or go for a run or finish our workout at home and don’t take a few minutes to stretch those muscles that have just been worked. You’ll find that if you take just 3-5 minutes at the end of your workout to stretch, your muscles will be much less tight throughout the day.
Sometimes things we don’t think could possible related, are related! In this case, whether you are pregnant, or postpartum, weak and/or tight glutes could be contributing to your back pain. Take and implement the three tips given in this article and see if your back pain lessens throughout the week!
Keep an eye out for some booty-strengthening exercises and some booty-relaxing stretches throughout the week!