Sitting in the Bleachers with Back Pain

Bleachers

Last week I got a call from a mom who was was sitting in Little League Baseball –she called me saying,

“Oh my gosh, my back is killing me sitting in these bleachers.”

She was told to call me by a former patient of ours who suffered from similar back pain when sitting on bleachers at football and baseball games. So this mom asked me some questions over the phone and I told her, that was something that we we help people with, and we’re able to start a conversation about it. She said she ended up standing up, walking and standing over on the side for some time. It felt better for a while. But her back pain is still there, not gone, and it’s now coming in the way of sitting at work, driving and even sitting at baseball practice.

It led me to think, it’s that season. I’ve watched people at baseball games- I often look around to see how everyone is sitting. It’s that time of year when people are going to watch their kids play.

Parents are sitting in the bleachers pretty poorly. Now they also sit at a football game over the weekend for three or four hours. I just want to say that when you’re sitting in those bleachers, one of the best things to take note of, at the little league game, is where you put your feet. There’s a spot for your feet to go and then there’s the bleacher in front of you that people would sit on.

Don’t put your feet up on that bleacher where the people would sit. Put your feet down on the bottom where you would normally put them, as if someone was sitting in front of you.

Because as soon as you put your feet up on where someone would sit, it brings your knees way up towards your chest. Then you end up leaning way forward and end up arching your back “even more”. Often this type of arching of the back, will put a lot of pressure on your lower back joints and discs causing damage and pain.

I say arching your back “even more”, because most of the people sitting in those bleachers are sitting there swaying or arching their back in an attempt to find a position of comfort, but they’re actually in that very position that I try to teach people to avoid.

With that said, another tip to think about when you’re sitting is to keep both feet on the floor. Keep both feet on the ground and push gently into your heels.

As soon as you cross one leg over the other, or put one foot under your rear end, you lose the proper mechanics of what we’re trying to accomplish and your back pain is likely to keep getting worse.

These are just some things and some tips to think about.

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Often it’s not a one size fits all approach for every back problem; the root cause of your particular back problem needs to be diagnosed properly and it may be that sitting poorly on those bleachers was not the cause but rather “just the straw that broke the camel’s back”.

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Trupti Mehta, PT, MS, OCS

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