Combating Back Pain from Office Chairs
As though work weren’t enough of a pain, Americans do a real number on their backs by sitting an average of 13 hours each day. Sitting too long can both cause back pain and exacerbate existing pain. And, of course, excess sitting means less walking, and is linked with a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, and muscle or joint problems. And for the better intentions many have to stay more active, millions of office workers are chained to their desks writing emails and taking calls without getting up for more than the water cooler. A growing rate of professionals even stay at their desks for lunch.
If you are stuck at your desk and experience back pain of any kind, it’s important to get assessed by your chiropractor to identify the source of your pain. If it is your job (and “professional sitting”), your chiropractor is the one who will advise you on treatment and best practices to avoid doing lasting damage.
Here are a few expert tips to make due until you can get in for an appointment.
Invent excuses to get up
Even the best office chair coupled with the best posture isn’t enough to combat a sedentary lifestyle. Prolonged sitting not only puts stress on your back, it can lead to muscle and joint problems all over your body. Try to get up and move at least once an hour for a few of minutes. This doesn’t have to be a big event – even walking to the water cooler or to the bathroom will relieve some stress on your back. If you have even a little time during lunch, try to go for a longer walk. If you can’t walk outside, lap the office or find a stairwell you can climb. If your back pain is really starting to get to you, bring a pair of tennis shoes so you can shake the pain off from the feet up.
Don’t worry, yoga pants aren’t required for these “deskercises.” Most stretches work best for those with their own private office, but don’t be embarrassed to do these in front of your coworkers if you don’t have space to yourself. For back pain, torso stretches that focus on the trunk and shoulders will feel great and relieve some of the stiffness caused by sitting all day long. You can also stretch your hamstrings by slowly bringing each knee to your chest, one after the other, from a lying position. Finally, try to gently relax and roll your neck. These stretches will warm up your muscles and help prevent stiffness through the rest of the day.
Trade in the chair
Giving up the office chair can be hard to do. If you aren’t quite ready to try a standing desk, there are alternatives that help you sit with greater comfort and better posture. For example, an exercise ball is a popular alternative that many people use in lieu of a traditional chair. Sitting on an exercise ball encourages your core muscles to work while you’re sitting, and encourages you to sit straighter. And if you’re bold enough for a standing desk, in many cases the company might even pay for it. Don’t worry – standing desks convert from sitting to standing and back again, so you won’t have to stand all day.
Then, look for the lasting solution
Remember, these are all tips to get by, but it’s important to get in to see your chiropractor to make sure there’s nothing else going on. Your chiropractor will also provide you with the treatments that make a lasting difference, such as Active Release Technique therapy.
Sitting all day at work and then continuing to sit at home when you crash on the couch can lead to back pain, long-term back problems, and other health conditions. Take control of your health by incorporating some of these changes at work, and top it off with help from your chiropractor.