Back Pain at Work? Try These 5 Things

back pain at work hero image

What are the main back pain causes? Do you suffer back pain from sitting at a desk? Are you feeling pain ranging from a stiff neck, sore shoulders, lower back pain, upper back pain, sore hips, sciatica and even knee problems? Here are 5 things you should do NOW for relief…

5 quick tips and exercises that you can do while working or on your break to help you feel and work better. Do them ASAP. Take preventative measures for your health. You will have less discomfort, be more focused and productive.

1.Perform

Sit in your office chair like a Pianist! They don’t have a backrest, but you do, so use it!

Most back pain causes are the result of sitting too long in the same position in a chair that isn’t correctly supportive. Lots of people suffer upper back pain from sitting at a desk. Our careers demand us to be at the computermore often than anything other activity, and often in an office chair is substandard at best. 

  • Make sure your bottom to the back of the chair and sit straight
  • Sit with your knees shoulder width apart
  • Spine straight
  • Chin tucked in
  • Shoulders back

Are you getting fatigued?

It’s no surprise, you’re not used to sitting like this and sitting like a Pianist is quite fatiguing at first. It is a new position to learn. You are just getting used to the new posture and so you’re bound to get tired from practicing it.

2.Stand

We all sit for far too long. Did you know that sitting is the single most unhealthy habit for your overall health?  It’s even worse for your back and is most likely the reason you’re reading this. Because you are sore from sitting, your body needs to change position in order so you can keep all of the muscles of your lower body active.  Sitting really shuts off this much needed aspect by deactivating your leg, back and hip muscles.

The Benefits of Standing

  • Re-aligns your pelvic tilt (good for the discs)
  • Helps you straighten your spine (keeps the vertebrae balanced)
  • Stretches your hip flexor muscles (less tension on lumbar spine)
  • Stimulates the glute/butt muscles (less strain)
  • Brings needed circulation down through the legs (to both the muscles and nerves)
  • Alleviate back pain causes
  • Stimulates virtually every muscle in your body

You only need to stand briefly for a few seconds, every 10 minutes is perfect. Your legs need it and your back will feel better. Once you get into this habit you’ll have less pain and as a result find it easier to sit for longer. But don’t fall into the bad habit again!

3.Hip Flexor Stretch (Seated Lunge)

There are a of lot of benefits to this one simple hip flexor stretch action.  It corrects your posterior pelvic tilt to prevent your discs and muscles of the spine from straining.

When seated your pelvic tilt goes from a neutral position to a posterior one. It causes disc bulges and deep inter vertebral muscle strain. It naturally aids in re-straightening your spine by:

Taking the pressure off of your glutes/butt muscles (relief from sciatica, piriformis syndrome)

  • Activating your leg muscles and improves the circulation down your legs
  • Stretches and strengthens your legs muscles (most of them, to stabilize your spine)
  • Stretches the hip flexors (especially your psoas major)
  • Prevents the psoas and iliacus from pulling on your lumbar region (relief from anterior tilt)

You can do it briefly and still find relief.  The longer, the better the effect. You are correcting, rehabilitating, and preventing injury all at the same time!

Most people feel instant relief the moment they practice it. All of this from one simple stretch, at work!

hip flexor stretch

If you don’t find it easy to do, don’t let it frustrate you and don’t worry, you don’t have to hold this pose all day.  Only for a few seconds at a time will make a difference.

4.Hug

No. Not your co-workers. YOUR THIGHS!

There is one area of your lower body that becomes progressively worse with sitting. There is NO avoiding it. Even the best sitting arrangements can’t prevent this problem. Sitting shuts down the most important muscle groups needed to support your back: your gluteus muscle.

When you sit, they lose circulation, become weaker, tighter and sometimes numb.  The worst symptoms of this condition is when your feel pins and needles exiting from your spine and traveling down the legs.  This is known as sciatic pain and is serious. It makes sitting very painful.

You can get up, stand, walk, exercise more, massage etc. but you really need to stretch your glutes regularly to prevent your back pain from becoming worse.

How to Safely Hug Your Thigh

It’s pretty straightforward but there are some precautions you must take. You need to be careful and not over stretch.

You want to gradually and carefully hug because you are also pulling on the sciatic nerve.  If you have no symptoms of discomfort, then hug away as seen in the photo.  There is not much more to know.  You’ll find it easier to focus at work because you’ll feel more comfortable.

how to hug your thigh example

Pulling on your thigh may increase your posterior pelvic tilt.  Try to not allow this to happen. You want to feel a gentle strain just under your buttock. This is where most of the muscle lengthening will happen.

If it feels as though you are barely raising your thigh, that’s OK. You’ll get better every day. 

If you have back pain don’t just hug without following the following tips.

  • Keep your spine straight
  • Use the support of the chair or not (either is fine)
  • Keep your pelvis steady
  • Tighten your abdominals
  • Slowly bring your knee up and to the side using your arms and hands
  • Stop when you feel the slightest pull
  • Hold
  • Count to 20-30 seconds. Rest your leg down
  • Repeat with the other thigh
  • Don’t force anything
  • You don’t have to match the full position in the above photo straight away.
  • Do you feel pins and needles?
  • You either have sciatica or piriformis syndrome.  In either case the hug will help you if you do it right. Too much hugging will make it feel worse.
hugging your thigh

If there was an alternative to the Hug, I would definitely advise it. But it is one of the best stretches for you at work.

5.Break

How long you should be sitting for? Pain is your sign to stop the habit. For every 15-20 minutes of sitting, you need to stand, walk, lie down or exercise for about 1-2 minutes. This will alleviate back pain.

You don’t have to do anything that physical, you’re just trying to move around to reposition your posture and improve the circulation to your legs again. This may seem like a pretty frequent interval and it is. But it’s necessary right now so that you can avoid causing long term postural and musculoskeletal problems. This applies not just to work, but also while you’re driving, watching TV or anything similar.

Generally, you should be able to sit for a long time even under poor seating conditions, but there is a limit to this. No one can really sit comfortably if they have to sit with next to no breaks. The reality is that our jobs can be brutal at times on your back and you shouldn’t have to feel like you’re suffering. You’ve got to take a break. Simple and plain.

It’s about protecting your spine, discs, facet joints, muscles, nerves, soft tissues, existing strains and injuries, your sanity, goals, etc. Below are the 3 breaks you must take.

  • Extended Breaks (away from work)

Holidays!! Get away from the office and to put your health first. Avoid wasting time off by sitting on the sofa binging Netflix or checking Facebook. That just more sitting!

  •  Interim Breaks (during work)

You MUST get away from that desk!

Take your lunch break (really do it)

Walk on your lunch break (or at least stand for most of it)

Take your 15-minute breaks if available and don’t sit at all

Go for a very short walk (without your device)

Physically go to colleagues to discuss work related concerns

  • Immediate (at the desk)

This is where you can be creative.  You can take a ‘break’ from the dangers sitting and still productive. Here’s how:

Stand for a few seconds for every ten minutes of sitting

Stand when you need the printer, fax, etc.

Stand and walk to get around. Don’t wheel yourself around

Have a policy of moving around the desk (or away) every 30 minutes minimum

Do something other than sitting (after 30 minutes of sitting) for 1-2 minutes

These simple suggestions will help you relieve your back pain much sooner.

By looking for ways to integrate these breaks into your workplace setting, you will be more efficient.  

Take control of the situation and remember:

  • Perform
  • Stand
  • Stretch
  • Hug
  • Break