Back and neck pain doesn’t have to go hand in hand with an office job. Essentially our bodies were designed to stroll, run, hunt, play – to MOVE. There hasn’t been a long enough evolutionary period for our bodies to structurally adapt to this modern era of predominantly seated days of an office job. But, there are some proven ways to minimise the long list of aches and pains that sitting at work can create.
Why does sitting cause us pain?
In sitting position the pressure placed through our lumbar vertebrae and discs increases. Our joints are loaded in end range (stressed) positions, which, by the way is fine if temporary and reversed. Even if we try to avoid this by ‘sitting up tall’, our postural muscles fatigue after the 20 minute mark of being in seated position, and we lose our “s” shaped spinal curve, and revert to a more ‘C’ shaped curve. Over a longer period of time (months to years) this poor posture can start to become more permanent. Adaptive muscles can shorten and weakening/lengthening can occur, joints can lose their available ranges, and structures can become inflamed. This is especially worrying if you don’t have an active lifestyle outside of work.
How grim. Don’t worry, here’s what you can do to prevent this and avoid pain!
1) Get out of your chair BEFORE it hurts!
2) Standing up and going for a walk every 20 minutes for 2 minutes is all it takes to “re-set” your postural muscles, and revert your joints to the correct positions. Set a timer on your computer/phone to help form this habit!
3) Make little personalised reasons for standing, eg. ‘ I will stand every time I get a phone call’ . If you take 10 calls every day , which average 6 minutes each, thats an extra hour out of your seat. Your back will thank you! You could also try walking over to colleagues instead of emailing them.
4) Make sure your work station is set up ergonomically. Here is a link to how you can easily do this yourself: http://www.safety.uwa.edu.au/health-wellbeing/physical/ergonomics/workstation
5) Sit up on your sit-bones by tilting your hips forwards and tuck in your chin – two simple things that can help your seated posture.
6) Alternatively, use a lumbar roll in the small of your back to help maintain lumbar lordosis – minimising stress put on lumbar discs and to help maintain a good spinal position.
7) Perform pelvic tilts in sitting, as this allows gentle movement through the lumbar vertebrae, joints and muscles, while helping to maintain range and avoid lower back pain.
If after incorporating the above you still get back or neck pain, make an appointment to see us, as sitting may be exacerbating a pre-existing injury which will require a diagnosis and treatment.