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Sitting at work all day can be a real pain in the back! Literally!
Our bodies are not designed for us to stay in one position for long periods of time. We need movement to keep our joints and muscles happy and prevent build-up of tension/stiffness which can potentially lead to pain. Imagine walking around all day with your index finger pulled back, it will definitely get sore towards the end of the day.
Prolonged sitting is known to be a precursor of pain. This is regardless of your sitting posture and the type of chair, keeping in mind that the ideal posture for each individual varies.
How can I relieve or avoid back pain at work?
- The most important thing is to move regularly! “Motion is lotion”. It doesn’t have to be a big break, small frequent breaks from sitting are more effective than one long break. Try to get up at least every 30 minutes and just march on the spot or stretch for a few seconds by twisting your back, leaning to the side, bending forwards and backwards before sitting back down. If you can’t get up from the chair, stretch whilst sitting. You can sit on the edge of the chair and twist your spine to reach for the back rest or sit with your back against the back rest and extend your back over the chair.
- Try to do some stretches throughout the day. There are lots of stretches you can do but the main thing is to try and reverse the posture that your body had been stuck in. For example, if you are sitting with your spine bent all day, try to extend or reverse your spine as a stretch. As a contrast, if you tend to sit on the edge of the chair with an erect spine, then you might want to bend forwards to reverse the posture. Going for a short walk in your lunch break is also a great idea of you tend to sit all day.
- Check your ergonomic setup including your chair and desk arrangement. You may be able to organise a formal assessment through your workplace. Nowadays people are using stand up desks to avoid prolonged sitting. However, keep in mind that prolonged standing takes time to get used to so don’t start by standing for 4 hours at a time, introduce it slowly. Variability is the key to happy back!
If you have persistent back pain or pain referring into your legs then be sure to check in with your physiotherapist for a complete assessment.