Achy, tired back after a long day of typing or desk work? Don’t quit your job! Learn how preventing back pain may keep your spine healthy.
You may be overlooking a simple solution: prevention. Following are some strategies based on Stuart McGill’s Low Back Disorders: Evidence-based Prevention and Rehabilitation (2016) that will help keep your lower back in tip-top shape during prolonged sitting tasks and preventing spine distortion.
- Change your chair. Ergonomic chairs are readily available, and your office may already own one that you can exchange for your straight-backed one. Contrary to advertising by chair companies, the classic 90-degree angle isn’t necessarily the best. McGill suggests varying position throughout the day, which alleviates repeatedly putting pressure on the same areas, creating tissue fatigue. The best chair for you fits your height and size and adjusts easily.
- Get moving. Your body also has an attention span! Recent studies suggest this is 50 minutes. Take a trip to the restroom, water cooler, or a walk down the hall. Even stretching or standing while on the phone allows your muscles and spine to decompress. Even a break of 10-20 seconds is enough time to give your posture a reset.
- Empty your pockets. Wallets, keys, and other paraphernalia weigh down your pockets and can even irritate your spine, sciatic nerve, or pelvis. Find a safe drawer in your cube and make it a habit of dropping those items as soon as you arrive. Something as simple as sitting on your wallet can affect your spine. Things as small as keys will distort your posture.
- Exercise once during the day. Keep weights at your desk, or go for a brisk walk during lunch. First thing in the morning is not recommended—the middle of the day is best. Combine mobility and stability to strengthen your back and loosen your muscles for a more comfortable afternoon.