In this blog post you are going to learn 4 easy strategies to reduce lower back pain and stiffness if you are a desk worker.
We were never designed to sit on chairs!
Chairs are a great way for us to be productive at work, however they often leave us stiff as a board by the end of the day. Often desk workers can spend up to 6 hours in the same position, imagine what this is doing to your muscles and joints?
Often it is not only the desk sitting which is the issue. Most people would also sit for breakfast, sit in their car or train going to work, sit and their desk for work, sit while eating lunch, sit on the train ride home and then sit on their couch watching TV! This can be detrimental to your health and long term outcome for pain.
Below are 5 strategies a desk worker can implement through out their day to reduce pain and stiffness.
1: Get up an move around every 20 minutes
Tip # 1: Get up from your desk and move around every 20 minutes. Set an alarm on your phone to go off every 20 minutes.
Sitting is the new smoking, haven’t your heard? Studies actually show that 1 hour of inactive sitting can take 20 minutes from your life. Sitting is a very insidious factor which can play a part in our health. Sitting has been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension and type II diabetes.
While we sit for extended periods of time, muscles tend to switch off, become de-conditioned and there is a lack of blood flow and vital nutrients to these areas.
“Studies actually show that 1 hour of inactive sitting can take 20 minutes from your life”
If we are sitting for hours upon hours every day, our muscles and joints, in particular in our hips, upper back, hamstring and neck can become super stiff and tight, which can then lead to pain.
2: Do some stretches at your desk.
Tip # 2: Aim to do 2-3 stretches every hour on the hour.
If you ever wanted to look like the office clown, now is your chance. Yes doing stretches at your desk will most likely look a bit odd at first, but your work colleagues will get used to it, and may even join you!
This is a great way to break up the day, and allows your muscles and joint to be stretched which can feel very therapeutic.
Aim to add in 1-2 stretches while at work every hour and you will become to feel energized and more productive.
3: Don’t always sit up straight
Tip # 3: Change positions constantly through out the day. The best position is the next position. The key is to not stay in the same position for longer than 10 minutes.
Yes you heard me right! You can slouch! If you are a desk worker who wants to sit up tall, activate your core, have a neutral spine for the entire day you’re kidding yourself! Try doing this for 8 hours straight and you will become super tight in the lower back.
It is actually not ideal for us to be sitting up straight for the entire day, essentially what can happen is the muscles in our back become switched on for the entire day! It is good for the back to be able to slouch as relax, it is a normal part of how it should function.
“Think of it like this, if you flex and clench your wrist all day long, you’re going to end up with a sore wrist. The same goes for the back, we need to slouch as it allows our muscles to relax”
The important this to remember is this: The best position is the next position. You don’t want to slouch, or sit up straight for too long, think about changing positions as often as you can.
4: You need to be active outside of work
Tip # 4: Get to the gym at least 3 x per week
Ideally after or before work it is beneficial to include some strengthening, cardiovascular and flexibility work at a gym or at home. You don’t need to do anything out of the ordinary, a general physical exercise program will go a long way.
Below is an example program of what you may include in your workouts over a weekly schedule.
It is important to note that just because you go to the gym, does not mean you can sit more at work. It has actually been shown that people who exercise and then go to work and sit all day are no better off than people who sit down the entire day. Keep implementing all of the above tips as well as working out!