In the post-industrial age, a sedentary lifestyle, prolonged periods of desk-bound work, and the associated back pain from sitting too long has become an increasingly prevalent concern. The impact of stationary office jobs on employee health is multifaceted, encompassing musculoskeletal issues, mental health challenges, and productivity-declining related concerns. It is of vital importance to properly address the detriment, to our health and wellness, that we are facing.
In the following paragraphs we’ll delve into the various facets of how extended sitting can contribute to back pain and we’ll explore effective ways to relieve and prevent future discomfort. The available remedies range from addressing poor posture and muscle imbalances to promoting regular movement and incorporating stress management techniques. We’ll uncover 12 practical strategies to foster a healthier, pain-free experience for those grappling with the repercussions of sitting for extended durations.
Whether you’re seeking proactive measures to prevent back pain or looking for relief from existing discomfort, this guide aims to provide valuable insights and actionable solutions to enhance your overall well-being in the face of sedentary challenges.
What Research Says About Back Pain from Sitting Too Long?
Over 80% of the adult population has or will experience some sort of acute back pain in their life with a high likelihood of it becoming chronic if not properly addressed. Sitting for extended durations has been shown to increase all-cause mortality. Research has emerged suggesting that poor posture while seated can lead to the experience of backpain. Other studies have suggested that workers with chronic low back pain often hold more static sitting behavior. In a general sense, professionals stricken by prolonged workplace sitting report a high degree of neck and back pain.
What Happens When We Sit Too Long:
The problems often begin in our neck and can trickle top down from eye strain and the cervical spine or begin in the feet and go bottom up. There is not a strict sequential order that occurs in every case but much can be explained along this example path. Many things can happen in-between but the following sequence of triggered actions can be an easy formula for troubleshooting back pain from sitting too long. Pay attention to the paint points in the illustration and use them as check points to manage your biomechanics while seated and working at your desk.
The Impact of Sedentary Office Jobs on Employee Health
- Poor Posture, Circulation and Musculoskeletal Issues
- Obesity and Weight Gain
- Diminished Cardiovascular Health
- Exasperated Mental Health Challenges
- Reduced Productivity and Focus
- Increased Metabolic Health Issues
- Eye Strain
- Social Isolation
Is Sitting a Problem – Does It Cause Back Pain?
Maintaining a poor sitting posture, like slouching or hunching over, can strain the muscles and ligaments in your lower back and lead to major discomfort and pain. When we sit for extended periods, it can create muscle imbalances that weaken the support structures of the spine, potentially resulting in back pain. Additionally, prolonged sitting reduces blood flow to muscles, causing stiffness and discomfort in the back. Compression of spinal discs may occur, leading to issues like herniation or bulging, contributing to back pain. The lack of movement during prolonged sitting can result in stiffness and muscle tightness, and sitting for extended periods may impact the natural curvature of the spine, causing misalignment and potential back pain.
What Medical Issues Cause Lower Back Pain When Sitting?
Lower back pain when sitting can be caused by various factors. Here are some common reasons that are diagnosable medical conditions:
- Herniated or bulging discs: The discs in the spine act as cushions between the vertebrae. If a disc herniates or bulges, it can press on nearby nerves, causing pain in the lower back, especially when sitting.
- Degenerative disc disease: Over time, the discs in the spine can wear down, leading to conditions like degenerative disc disease. This can result in pain, especially during activities that involve prolonged sitting.
- Sciatica: Compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back down the back of each leg, can cause pain that may be aggravated by sitting.
- Spinal stenosis: This is a condition where the spinal canal narrows, putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. Sitting can exacerbate this condition, leading to lower back pain.
- Spondylosis: Also known as osteoarthritis of the spine, spondylosis can cause the development of bone spurs and other changes that may contribute to lower back pain, particularly when sitting.
- Strain and overuse: Prolonged sitting or remaining in an uncomfortable position can strain the muscles, soft tissues and cause muscle spasms.
How To Manage Back Pain from Sitting All Day
Our bodies aren’t built for long hours of sitting, and the more we sit, the worse our posture gets. A healthy spine should have a slight curve that keeps us upright. But when we slouch, this curve reverses, and our ligaments get tired. Bad posture can happen on a couch, recliner, or any chair that’s not ergonomic. To fix it, stand up every hour. Put your hand on the small of your back, push your hips forward, and lean back as far as you can. Do these five to 10 times to reset the natural curve of your spine.
Be mindful of your technology usage and the position your body is in. Mak sure to hold your phone at eye level and use a hands-free headset to avoid neck strain. To combat typing and being overly forward in our stance, roll your shoulders back and down instead of hunching to maintain a relaxed posture.
Manage stress to reduce muscular tension and stiffness that can worsen back pain. It is also important to relax the nervous system because non-physical or perceived stress is equally harmful and can debilitate us. Incorporate stress-reduction strategies (like music, spending time with loved ones and outdoors, not worrying, doing your favorite activity, and managing overall wellness) into your routine for a healthier, pain-free back.
Simple Exercises for a Healthy Back
- The Plank:
- Physical Position: Start in a push-up position with your arms straight, shoulders directly above your wrists, and body forming a straight line from head to heels.
- How to: Engage your core muscles, keep your back flat, and hold the position for as long as you can, maintaining proper alignment. Avoid sagging or arching your back.
- The Bird Dog:
- Physical Position: Begin on your hands and knees with your wrists aligned under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- How to: Extend your right arm forward and your left leg backward, keeping your hips level. Hold briefly, then return to the starting position and switch sides. This exercise helps improve balance and stability.
- Dead Bugs:
- Physical Position: Lie on your back with your arms extended toward the ceiling and your legs lifted off the ground, knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
- How to: Lower your right arm and left leg toward the floor without touching, then return to the starting position. Repeat with the opposite arm and leg. This dynamic movement engages your core muscles.
- Cat Cow Arching:
- Physical Position: Begin on your hands and knees with wrists under shoulders and knees under hips.
- How to: Arch your back up towards the ceiling (Cat Pose) while tucking your chin to your chest, then lower your belly towards the floor, lifting your head and tailbone (Cow Pose). Repeat this flowing movement to enhance spinal flexibility.
- Child’s Pose:
- Physical Position: Kneel on the floor with your big toes touching and knees apart. Sit back on your heels.
- How to: Extend your arms forward on the floor and lower your chest towards the ground, bringing your forehead to the mat. This restorative yoga pose stretches the lower back and promotes relaxation.
- Eggshell Rocking:
- Physical Position: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- How to: Gently rock your knees from side to side, keeping your shoulders on the ground. This movement encourages spinal mobility and can help relieve tension in the lower back.
Remember to perform these exercises with control and focus on maintaining proper form to maximize their effectiveness and minimize the risk of injury. If you have any existing health conditions or concerns, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare or fitness professional before starting a new exercise routine.
Holistic Remedies to Combat Pain Naturally
There are many tools can aid us in relieving pain in natural ways. First and foremost is move more and build your body intelligence so you can anticipate and adjust before the onset of pain. We need to make sure we are managing our overall wellbeing by sleeping regularly, maintaining a schedule, keeping our detox systems intact and adding additional means of removing toxins, eating proper nutrition or adhering to an anti-inflammatory diet,
Having a supportive network and managing social wellness is vital and can lessen the degree of perceived pain when feel a regular sense of community. It is also very important to employ nervous system management techniques and care for our central command center.
Create a Full-Fledged Plan to Relieve Your Back Pain
Prolonged sitting, whether at work or during extended periods of leisure, can lead to discomfort and pain in the back. Fortunately, there are numerous strategies to alleviate and prevent back pain caused by sitting for extended durations. In this blog, we will explore 12 effective methods to find relief and improve your overall well-being.
- Maintain Proper Posture: One of the most important steps in preventing back pain is to maintain proper posture. Sit with your back straight, shoulders relaxed, and feet flat on the floor. Utilize ergonomic devices like, chairs, standing desks, lumbar rolls or pillows, if needed, to support your lower back and prevent discomfort.
- Take Frequent Breaks: Set a timer to remind yourself to stand up and walk around every 30-60 minutes. Try to stand and change our position slightly every so often. These breaks help alleviate the pressure on your back and promote better blood circulation.
- Stretch Regularly: Incorporate simple stretching exercises into your daily routine. Focus on stretching your back, neck, shoulders, and hip flexors to reduce muscle tension and increase flexibility. Include a yoga practice in your fitness routine.
- Strengthen Your Core: A strong core provides better support for your back. Engage in exercises like planks, bridges, and leg raises to strengthen your abdominal and back muscles.
- Use Proper Ergonomics: Ensure your workstation is ergonomically designed.
- Chair: Select one with lumbar support, adjust the height for flat feet, and maintain a 90-degree knee angle.
- Desk: Set it at the right height to avoid wrist strain, and refrain from leaning on the table.
- Screen: Keep your computer display at eye level to prevent neck and upper back pain. Place the keyboard and mouse within easy reach to avoid straining your arms.
- Lift with Care: Practice correct lifting techniques to prevent back pain. Bend at the hips and knees, keep the load close to your body, and avoid twisting. This approach alleviates back tension and lowers the risk of injury.
- Use Heat and Cold Therapy: When experiencing back pain, alternate between applying heat (using a heating pad) and cold (using an ice pack) to the affected area. This can help reduce inflammation and ease muscle tension. Performing contrast therapy (alternating between hot and cold water or environments) can be an even more effective means, than each therapy on its own, when done properly.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight: Excess body weight can add strain to your back. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can alleviate this pressure and reduce the risk of back pain.
- Stay Hydrated: Proper hydration is essential for maintaining healthy discs in your spine. Drink plenty of water to keep your discs well-hydrated and maintain their shock-absorbing abilities.
- Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques: Stress can exacerbate back pain. Engage in mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, or progressive muscle relaxation to reduce stress and alleviate tension in your back.
- Wear Supportive Footwear: Wearing shoes with good arch support can help maintain proper posture and alleviate back pain caused by improper alignment.
- Consult a Holistic Health Coach: If your back pain persists or worsens, it’s important to consult a coach or professional. They can provide a personalized plan, which may include the right fitness or yoga, nutritional advice, meditation and mindfulness, breathwork, cold exposure, ergonomics and other areas of wellness.
Back pain from prolonged sitting is a common issue, but it doesn’t have to be a constant source of discomfort. By incorporating these 12 strategies into your daily routine, you can relieve existing back pain and prevent future issues. Remember that maintaining good posture, taking breaks, and practicing a healthy lifestyle are essential in promoting a pain-free back and overall well-being.
The Takeaways of Standing Up to Back Pain from Sitting Too Much
In today’s routine scenario of prolonged sitting and sedentary work, back pain has become a pressing concern affecting both musculoskeletal health and workplace productivity. This guide explores the multifaceted impact of extended sitting on employee well-being, delving into the associated musculoskeletal and mental health challenges. The major takeaways are the 12 effective strategies, from addressing poor posture to incorporating stress management techniques, the guide uses to empower individuals to proactively prevent or alleviate back pain caused by prolonged sitting.
The research highlights the prevalence of back pain and its potential chronicity, emphasizing the need for urgent intervention. The guide concludes with practical steps to manage back pain, urging individuals to prioritize regular movement, proper posture, and exercises that strengthen the core. Whether our remedies take place through ergonomics, hydration, or stress management, we must equip ourselves to take control of our health and wellbeing in the context of sedentary office environments.