Is Bleacher Sitting Bad For Your Lumbar Discs?

lumbar pain and disc bulges from sitting on bleachers

Is Bleacher Sitting Bad For Your Lumbar Discs?

Autumn is a season filled with vibrant foliage, crisp air, and the thrill of outdoor sporting events. Whether you’re a devoted sports fan or a proud parent cheering on your athlete, attending games in the cool, brisk autumn weather can be an exhilarating experience. However, amidst the excitement, it’s crucial to consider the potential risks associated with prolonged bleacher sitting. This article explores the connection between extended bleacher sitting, lumbar disc bulges, and disc herniations.

Risk of Disc Bulges and Herniations from Bleacher-Sitting

While the joy of watching outdoor sporting events is undeniable, the toll it can take on our spinal health is often underestimated. According to a study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, prolonged periods of sitting, particularly on hard surfaces like bleachers, can significantly increase the risk of lumbar disc bulges and herniations. This study revealed that individuals who regularly attended outdoor sporting events and spent more than three hours in bleacher seats per game were 1.5 times more likely to develop lumbar disc issues than those who did not.

The correlation between prolonged bleacher sitting and lumbar disc problems can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, sitting for extended periods compresses the lumbar discs, reducing their ability to absorb shock and maintain proper spinal alignment. The lack of proper lumbar support in most bleacher seats further exacerbates the problem. Over time, this combination of factors can lead to lumbar disc bulges or herniations, causing pain, numbness, and mobility issues.

Disc fissures, the cause of lumbar disc pain, will not heal spontaneously and can not be surgically sewn, due to their lack of blood supply. New non-surgical technology does exist to seal these fissures using the Discseel procedure. But more important than treatment of lumbar disc fissures is to avoid their development in the first place.

Strategies to Lessen the Likelihood of Bleacher-Related Lumbar Problems: 

  1. Ergonomic Seating: Investing in portable, ergonomic seating cushions or backrests can provide much-needed lumbar support during sporting events. These cushions are designed to alleviate pressure on the lower back, promoting better spinal alignment and reducing the risk of lumbar disc issues.
  2. Regular Movement Breaks: To counteract the negative effects of prolonged sitting, make a conscious effort to stand up, stretch, and walk around during breaks in the game. Simple stretches like backward bends (lumbar extension) and hip flexor stretches can help alleviate tension in the lower back.
  3. Core Strengthening Exercises: Engaging in a regular core-strengthening exercise routine can improve the stability of the spine and reduce the risk of lumbar disc problems. Exercises such as planks, bridges, and pelvic tilts can help maintain the health of your lumbar region.
  4. Proper Seating Choice: When attending sporting events, choose seating options that offer better lumbar support. Look for bleacher seats with backrests or opt for stadium seats designed for comfort. If possible, consider renting a seat with lumbar support. There is a very clever product called the “Slouch Buster” available for online purchase at This ingenious bleacher sitting solution optimizes lumbar support and maximizes portability.
  5. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: Adopting a healthy lifestyle can contribute to better spinal health. Stay hydrated, maintain a balanced diet, and manage your weight, as excess weight can put added stress on your lumbar spine. Additionally, avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption can promote overall health and reduce the risk of lumbar issues.

Attending outdoor sporting events in the autumn is a cherished tradition for many sports enthusiasts and parents of athletes. However, the joy of these events should not come at the cost of our spinal health. Prolonged bleacher sitting has been linked to lumbar disc bulges and herniations, which can lead to chronic low back pain. It is imperative that we take proactive measures to safeguard our spinal well-being while enjoying these activities. If lumbar disc pain has already started, then Discseel is a non-surgical option to consider.

By incorporating ergonomic seating, regular movement breaks, core-strengthening exercises, proper seating choices, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, we can significantly reduce the likelihood of experiencing lumbar pain during seasonal bleacher sitting. Remember, the thrill of cheering on your favorite team or watching your child excel in their sport is best enjoyed with a healthy and pain-free back. So, this autumn, let’s embrace both the spirit of the game and the responsibility of caring for our lumbar health, ensuring that we continue to relish these cherished moments for years to come.


I’m Boris Terebuh MD, Ohio’s first and most experienced Discseel® provider. I am also the Founder & Medical Director of the Regenerative Spine & Joint Center