Working in an office is a spectacular career choice for many as it comes with several advantages. For instance, many enhance their interpersonal and communication skills due to regular interactions with their colleagues and other parties connected to a particular organization.
More so, working in an office improves your skills in time management, creativity, innovation, networking, and organization, among others. Despite the various benefits of office work, we cannot ignore the downsides of this career path. Keep in mind that office work means you will be spending long periods of time in an office chair.
Though office chairs may be comfortable, the static position stresses some parts of the body. The most affected area is the lumbar. This is the lower back area that supports most of the body movements. Typically, people who work in the office are more likely to suffer from back-related complications than individuals with physically demanding jobs. According to statistics, 80% of American office workers complain of symptoms associated with back pain at least once in their lifetime.
Moreover, statistics reveal back pain accounts for more than 270 million lost workdays every year in the United States of America. If left untreated, back pain can lead to more severe complications. With the ongoing global pandemic, more than 60% of the United State’s population is working from home, which means many folks are spending hours in a home office. For that reason, this article will provide clear details regarding reducing back pain at work.
Work on Your Sitting Positions.
What is your favorite sitting position while at work? A repetitive unhealthy sitting position is one of the most common causes of back pain. Therefore, you must work on improving your postures. Some postures predispose you to chronic back complications because they cause pressure on some parts of the body, especially the lumbar region. Therefore, you will have to maintain the normal curve of the spine at all times while sitting in an office chair. To achieve this, it would be best if you avoid slouching.
Slouching, however, is a difficult habit to eliminate because although it is unhealthy, it feels so right. Most of us slouch because we feel as if we are resting our backs, only that the reality is quite the opposite. According to evidence-based health-related details, slouching can lead to chronic breathing difficulties, spinal dysfunction, fatigue, and reduced blood circulation, to mention a few.
Tips to Reduce Slouching.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor. This improves blood circulation around your body, thus preventing muscle strain that might strain your back and other parts of the body.
- Invest in a high-quality office chair. It would be best if you purchased an ergonomic desk chair that excellently supports your back. Suppose your office chair lacks spinal support, you can use a soft cushion as it mimics the lumbar support of office chairs.
- Keep your arms in an L-shaped position. The right angle position is beneficial as it prevents straining muscles in the arms and shoulders, hence improve the overall sitting posture.
- Position your knees at a 90 degrees angle and slightly at the same level as the hips. This will help you maintain a neutral spine alignment, thereby preventing excessive strain on the back muscles.
- Position the ankle joints in front of your knees. The position evenly distributes your body weight, thus preventing excessive pressure on your ankle and knee joints.
- Ensure that your head aligns with the spine. The spinal curve should form a natural S-shape to absorb shock and maintain balance; thus, you are less likely to experience excess fatigue during long sitting hours.
- Move around. Frequent movement makes your muscles flexible; therefore, you are less likely to experience back pain due to muscle strain.
- Relax your shoulders. Relaxed shoulders prevent muscle tension throughout the back.
- Keep your elbows at an angle of about 110 degrees. Properly positioned elbows lead to neutrally aligned wrists.
- When using a computer, set the top of the screen at eye level to avoid straining while looking up and down.
Exercises for Back Pain.
Also known as hip raises, this is one of the best exercises for an individual with chronic back problems—the exercise targets strengthening the butt muscles, lower back, and hip muscles.
The glute bridge workout is beneficial as it improves one’s general posture by working the back muscles from the neck to the glute tail bone. Therefore, the glute bridge stabilizes the entire spinal core.
Glute Bridge Steps.
- Lie down on your back and keep your hands at the sides.
- Lift your hips off the ground with your knees bent. Ensure that your palms are flat on the floor.
- Adjust your position if necessary to ensure that your shoulders, hips, and knees form a straight line.
- Activate your glutes by tightening your abdominal and butt muscles.
- Squeeze your belly button by drawing it back towards the spinal core.
- Hold the position for about 20 to 30 seconds.
- Release your glutes by lowering your back towards the ground.
- Repeat the process at least 10 times.
The pelvic tilt is a workout that targets the lower abdominal muscles, lower back, and glute muscles. This exercise comprises spinal movements that enhance the strength of the muscles supporting the lower back.
The pelvic tilt is one of the simplest and safest exercises, hence also recommendable for vulnerable populations such as pregnant women and seniors with severe back complications.
How to Perform the Pelvic Tilt.
- Lie down on your back with your arms at the sides.
- Keep your palms facing down and flat on the ground.
- Ensure that the back of your head is touching the ground.
- Align your neck with your spine.
- Maintain the natural S-shaped curve of your back by allowing for space between your lower back and the floor.
- Inhale, then exhale. As you exhale, engage your abdominal muscles by contracting them.
- Push your belly button towards the spine as you flatten your back.
- Slightly bend your pelvis.
- Hold the position for up to 20 seconds.
- Inhale again and return to a neutral position.
- Repeat the procedure to achieve at least two sets of five reps.
The wall sit is an effective workout routine that targets muscles around the hips, glutes, back, chest, and quadriceps. The benefits of wall sit include improving stability, increasing stamina, and enhancing strength.
Due to its simplicity, the wall sits workout out is effective for a person of any age. All you need to achieve this exercise is a wall or any other vertical surface to provide a leaning platform. When done correctly, wall sits enhance muscle endurance and increases muscle mass, alleviating pain around the lower back. This is, therefore, a perfect exercise for people that work in the office.
Wall Sit Exercise Steps.
- Lean against the wall or any other vertical surface while in a standing position.
- Move your feet forward about 2 feet away from the wall while engaging your entire core.
- Ensure that your feet are shoulder-width apart.
- Slide down while still leaning on the wall.
- Bend your legs to form a 90 degrees angle. To achieve this, your knees should be directly above your ankles.
- Ensure that your spine, neck, and head are in a neutral position.
- Hold the position for about 20 seconds.
- Slide back up slowly while still leaning against the wall and return to the starting position.
- Repeat the process at least 10 times.
- You can increase the holding position period up to 60 seconds.
- A 20-minute workout every day is ideal once you learn the basics.
Partial crunches target the lower back and abdominal muscles. This exercise prevents and reduces back pain by balancing the middle-back, lower back, and neck curves.
Through building strength in your lower back and abdominal muscles, partial crunches improve your lifting, standing, sitting, and even sleeping postures. The workout routine is a great alternative for sit-ups. Keep in mind that sit-ups can aggravate back pain because they push your naturally curved spine against the floor, which makes the hip flexors too tight.
How to Perform Partial Crunches
- Lie down flat on your back.
- Bend your knees and keep the feet flat on the floor.
- Cross your arms over the chest or put them behind your neck.
- Raise your shoulders off the ground while tightening your abdominal muscles.
- Use your arms for support and pull yourself up. While at it avoiding leading with your elbows
- Breathe out while raising your shoulders.
- Hold the position for up to 5 seconds.
- Gently lower your shoulders back to the starting position.
- Do three sets of five or 10 reps.
- Also, note that the rest between the reps are important.
While performing partial crunches, ensure that your back is in a neutral position. One common mistake you should avoid while doing partial crunches is pulling your neck with your arms. Your arms should only provide support. It would help if you mastered the correct positions to avoid straining your entire torso.
According to the American Chiropractic Association, 80% of American citizens experience back pain at least once in their lifetime. The most affected population is office employees because of static postures for extended periods of time. It would be best if you do not ignore even the mild back pains because they can potentially lead to severe spinal complications and other health problems. The details as discussed above give discrete details regarding reducing back pain from long sitting hours. Apart from trying the mention workouts, it is crucial to invest in high-quality ergonomic office chairs or improvise spinal region back supports.