Association of Exposures to Seated Postures With Immediate Increases in Back Pain: A Systematic Review of Studies With Objectively Measured Sitting Time

Diana E. De Carvalho, Katie de Luca, Martha Funabashi, Alexander Breen, Arnold Y.L. Wong, Melker S. Johansson, Manuela L. Ferreira, Michelle Swab, Gregory Neil Kawchuk, Jon Adams, Jan Hartvigsen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The purpose of this study was to conduct a systematic review of studies to determine whether sitting time measured objectively (by laboratory controlled time trial, direct observation, or wearable sensor) is associated with the immediate increase in low back pain (LBP) (determined by pain scale rating) in people >18 years of age. Methods: Four databases (PubMed, EMBASE, SPORTDiscus, and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature) were searched from inception to September 1, 2018. Randomized controlled trials and cohort and cross-sectional studies, where objectively measured sitting time was temporally matched with a measure of LBP in adults, were included. Studies without a control session conducted on a separate day were excluded. Screening, full-text review, data extraction, and risk of bias assessment (Quality In Prognosis Studies) of included papers were performed independently by 2 reviewers, with a third available to resolve disagreements. Results: In total, 609 articles were identified, 361 titles/abstracts were screened,75 full-text articles were assessed for eligibility, and 10 met the inclusion criteria. All but 1 reported sitting time to be associated with an immediate increase in LBP. Six of these reported clinically relevant pain levels (n = 330). Half of the included studies were rated as having a low risk of bias and the remaining were rated as having a moderate risk of bias. Conclusion: Prolonged sitting increases immediate reporting of LBP in adults; however, no conclusion between sitting and clinical episodes of LBP can be made. Based upon these findings, we recommend that future prospective studies should match objectively measured sitting with temporally related pain measurements to determine whether prolonged sitting can trigger a clinical episode of LBP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • Accelerometry
  • Actigraphy
  • Low Back Pain
  • Occupational Diseases
  • Pain Measurement
  • Risk Factors
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Sitting Position
  • Time Factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chiropractics


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