Having a desk job can be less than thrilling. Not only does such a job usually require long hours of staring into a computer screen; it also prevents movement (except, of course, typing and pushing a mouse around). This restriction of movement can eventually take its toll on a person’s back.
Why Does Sitting Increase Back Pain?
Some people are less affected by long periods of sitting, while others experience quite a bit of pain or discomfort as a result of it. Why is this? Donald R. Murphy, clinical assistant professor at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University, says, “Sitting…puts the spine in a flexed position (bent forward) and this may cause your back muscles to stop working efficiently, putting your back at risk of injury.”
Do you have a job that requires you to sit at a desk for most of the day? Do you experience back pain that you believe results from long periods of sitting? If so, here is some good news: you can take steps to protect your back from injury and decrease the pain you’re feeling.
How to Ease Pain and Protect Your Back from Sitting-related Injuries
1. Invest in a good chair – Because ergonomic desk chairs are designed with a person’s spine in mind, they often work wonders for people with back pain. They can be somewhat pricey, but the result—a back that is protected from injury and pain-free—is SO worth the money.
2. Stretch – Stretching is super important for those who sit for long hours at a desk. Make it a point to stretch every 30 to 60 minutes. This releases the pressure on your discs and helps ease and prevent pain. Placing your hands on your hips and pushing them slightly forward while arching your back, doing gentle yoga moves, and simply walking around are great stretching options.
3. Build core strength – Having strong core muscles prevents and eases back pain, particularly for those with a desk job. If medically appropriate, taking a Pilates class twice a week is an ideal remedy for a weak core. Better yet, work with a physiotherapist. Physiotherapists are excellent at helping people reach their individualized fitness goals.
4. Don’t forget to take breaks – Even if they only last two or three minutes, take breaks often. Get up, walk around and take deep, even breaths.
5. Learn to sit – Think you know how to sit? Think again. What many people think is sitting is actually just hunching. To learn to sit properly, meet with a physiotherapist or look into the Alexander Technique or the Feldenkrais Method.
Just because you sit at a desk most of the day, doesn’t mean you have to accept and endure back pain. YOU have the power to protect your back, prevent injury and enjoy your life more fully.