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Pressure relief and guidance for sitting comfortably

Pressure Relief And Guidance For Sitting Comfortably Panel

Sitting is an essential part of daily life, but for older adults living independently, prolonged sitting or improper posture can lead to discomfort and even pressure sores. These sores, also known as pressure ulcers, develop when constant pressure restricts blood flow to a specific area of skin, typically on the buttocks, tailbone, or heels.

Common scenarios and concerns

Lifestyle and equipment options to help you

Slouching and poor posture: Sitting hunched can strain your back and neck, increasing pressure on your buttocks.

This can lead to back pain, neck pain, and an increased risk of pressure sores.

Posture awareness: Practice good posture while sitting, keeping your shoulders relaxed and your spine aligned. 

Lumbar support: Utilise lumbar support cushions for added back support.

Long periods of sitting: Sitting for extended periods without breaks can restrict blood flow and increase pressure on your buttocks and thighs.

This can lead to discomfort, pressure sores, and reduced circulation.

Regular breaks: Get up and move around every 30 minutes to improve circulation and relieve pressure. 

Pressure-relieving cushions: Use pressure-relieving cushions designed to distribute weight evenly.

Difficulty sitting due to pain: Pre-existing pain conditions can make sitting uncomfortable and exacerbate pressure sores.

This can lead to reduced mobility and potential skin breakdown. 

Pain management: Consult your doctor for pain management strategies. 

Comfort aids: Utilise pressure-relieving seat cushions or donut pillows.


Understanding the risks of prolonged sitting

Sitting for extended periods, especially without breaks, can contribute to several issues:

  • Reduced circulation: Sitting for too long restricts blood flow, particularly to the legs and buttocks. This can lead to discomfort, numbness, and an increased risk of pressure sores.
  • Muscle tightness and pain: Prolonged sitting can tighten your back and leg muscles, leading to pain and stiffness.
  • Increased pressure on certain areas: Sitting puts constant pressure on your buttocks, tailbone, and heels. If you have reduced mobility or circulation issues, this pressure can become a risk factor for pressure sores.

Maintaining good posture while sitting

Good posture promotes even weight distribution and reduces pressure on specific areas. Here are some tips:

  • Sit tall: Keep your back straight and shoulders relaxed, avoiding slouching or hunching forward.
  • Align your spine: Maintain a natural curve in your lower back by supporting your lumbar region with a cushion or rolled-up towel.
  • Feet flat on the floor: Keep your feet flat on the floor, knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Avoid crossing your legs for extended periods of time.
  • Armrest support: Utilise armrests to keep your shoulders relaxed and prevent hunching.

Equipment and aids to help you sit comfortably

Several types of equipment can help improve comfort and reduce pressure while sitting:

  • Lumbar support cushions: These cushions provide extra support for your lower back, promoting good posture and reducing strain.
  • Pressure-relieving seat cushions: These cushions are designed to distribute weight evenly, reducing pressure on your buttocks and thighs. Consider options with gel inserts, memory foam, or air-filled compartments.
  • Donut pillows: Donut pillows feature a cutout in the centre, relieving pressure on the tailbone, which is helpful for individuals with existing pain conditions.

Additional things to consider

  • Take regular breaks: Get up and move around every 30 minutes to improve circulation and prevent pressure buildup. Even short stretches or walking around the room can make a difference.
  • Change positions: Avoid sitting in the same position for extended periods. Shift your weight occasionally or stand up and sit back down to redistribute pressure.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight can increase pressure on your buttocks and thighs while sitting.
  • Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water helps maintain skin elasticity, reducing the risk of pressure sores.

Where to buy equipment to help you sit comfortably 

Plymouth City Council, NHS Devon, and Livewell Southwest have jointly commissioned NRS Healthcare to deliver the Safe+Well service, and they have over 2,500 daily living aids that you can purchase by mail order, telephone, or online.

View the Plymouth Safe+Well website

NRS has a dedicated phone line with a trained team of specialists who can answer any questions you might have. Just call 0345 6461860.

Other places to buy equipment from:

You might also like 

  • Free assessment tool: Select the area of difficulty that is relevant to you. You will then be asked a few questions to guide you towards helpful daily living aids. 
  • Free telephone advice line: Complete the online form, and we will contact you to arrange a convenient time to call.



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