Back and neck pain doesn’t have to go hand in hand with an office job. Essentially our bodies were designed to stroll, run, 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 at 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 the sitting position, internal pressure placed through our lumbar vertebral discs’ increases. Our joints can become stressed, as they are placed in “end range” positions. Even if we try to avoid this by ‘sitting up tall’, in attempt to maintain a neutral or more “S” shaped spinal curve, our postural muscles fatigue after the 20-minute mark, and we 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 shortening and tightening of some muscles occur, with weakening and lengthening of others, joints can lose their available ranges, and structures can become irritated. This is especially worrying if you don’t have an active lifestyle outside of work to maintain some strength and mobility.
How grim! But don’t worry, here’s what you can do to manage 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 required 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) Create personalised reasons for standing, for example. ‘I will stand every time I get a phone call’. If you take 10 calls every day, which average 6 minutes each, that’s 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 improve 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 assisting good seated posture.
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, including specific postural muscle strengthening.
Better Health Nutrition & Fitness Physiotherapy
0450 968 891