“Oh my aching back!” This will be said by about 80% of us at some point in our lives. Lower back pain is the prominent cause of work related disability. It can happen to anyone, and it is the most common reason for doctor visits. Lower back pain can have a profound effect on those who work from their desk for the majority of the day, but there are many ways to reduce or eliminate lower back pain while you are sitting.
Most people have poor posture as they go about their daily routines, but proper posture can play a tremendous role in alleviating lower back pain when sitting. It should be refreshing to know that most everyone can circumvent problems caused by bad posture, and improvements can be made at any age. The Cleveland Clinic attests these are techniques used to sit with proper posture.
- Sit up with your back straight and your shoulders back. Your buttocks should touch the back of your chair.
- All three normal back curves should be present while sitting. A small, rolled-up towel or a lumbar roll can be used to help you maintain the normal curves in your back.
- Your feet should be flat on the floor.
Ergonomic Office Chair
Ergonomic chairs with a lumbar base offer the most spine support for those who suffer from chronic lower back pain. Paul Cooke, M.D., physiatrist at Hospital for Special Surgery, states that “when a chair doesn’t support your spine, your muscles have to work harder, and you’ll feel fatigued at the end of the day.”
There are many ergonomic chairs available, but some offer more support than others. Here are some features you need to look for:
- Seat depth – the seat pan, or the part you sit on, should allow you to sit all the way back to employ the lumber support on the chair back. You should have enough breadth between the chair and your knees to fit two to four of your fingers.
- Seat height – The University of Pittsburgh states that the chair should be pneumatically adjustable so that you can adjust seat-pan height while you are sitting on the chair.
- Backrest – the backrest should be large enough to support your entire back.
- Armrest – armrests should allow you to rest your arms and shoulders. Make sure the armrest is adjustable or suitable for your arm length before you buy the chair.
- Rotating Chair – a chair that swivels helps you to maneuver your whole body without straining your back.
Working from your seat all day can be a real pain in the back. You can alleviate back pain while sitting with some simple stretching done in your chair. Here are some easy stretches you can try from the seat of your desk:
Seated lunges Please watch this short video on how to properly execute a seated lunge.
Lower Back Stretches Please watch this video on how to properly execute lower back stretches.
Stand For Short Periods While You Work
It seems that if your back is aching you would want to sit and rest, but standing actually relieves pain. When standing, our bodies are in a neutral, upright position, and the pressure on the discs in your lower back is lower than when you sit unsupported. It is a good idea to stand at least every 20 -30 minutes.
If you like the idea of standing to do work, you might consider investing in a treadmill desk.
A treadmill desk offers gentle exercise while completing office work. It also helps you maintain a healthy weight, which can also take pressure off of your back.
Implement Core and Back Exercises Into Your Routine
Spinal column bones along with a system of muscles and ligaments are what provide the framework for our stability. This network keeps our bodies upright and allows us to move. The abdominal and back muscles are key in this network because they provide strength. Abdominal and back muscles deteriorate over time if they are not kept strong through exercise. Therefore, additional stress is put on the spine to support the body which causes back pain or injury. One of the best remedies for back problems is to implement core and back exercises into your workout routine.
If you are unfamiliar with exercise, try these suggestions to regain your back strength:
- Hire an experienced personal trainer to help you with your back health goals
- Pilates – Pilates is a culmination of stretching, strengthening, and core exercises that can help reduce lower back pain problems.
- Yoga – Spine Health attests that yoga incorporates stretching and relaxation, which reduces tension in stress-carrying muscles. (See The Truth About Yoga for Lower Back Pain Relief)
- Tai Chi – National Center for Biotechnology reported on research findings that a 10-week tai chi program improved pain and disability outcomes and can be considered a safe and effective intervention for those experiencing long-term low back pain symptoms.
All Day Heat Wraps
All day heat wraps are available at your local pharmacy. They are thin and easily concealable under your work clothing, and they help those with chronic lower back pain with mobility and pain relief. WebMD reported on the findings of a John Hopkins University School of Medicine study that showed that employees seeking treatment for work-related low back pain reported significantly less pain when continuous low-level heat wraps were used along with standard treatment.
Over- the- Counter Pain Relief
You should stock your desk drawer with some over-the-counter pain-relief supplements. Capsaicin, an ingredient found in peppers, is one great way to manage pain. Capsaicin can be purchased as a low-concentration, topical salve that you can apply any time. The National Center for Biotechnology states that it is safe and effective to use low-concentration capsaicin creams. Its effectiveness is supported by numerous studies.
Another immediate-relief product you should have on-hand is ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is short-term relief, but for those days when you can’t let the pain get worse, you should have an anti-inflammatory on hand.
Back health is important in maintaining your freedom to work and to live the lifestyle you desire. Because you already know that your life requires sitting, use the information above to keep your symptoms from getting worse.