One of the worst effects of sitting at a desk job is back pain. Sitting for long periods of time can worsen already existing back pain, and can even cause back problems for those who have no pre-existing problems. When you sit in a stationary position long periods, your muscles become contracted and with time become taut and painful. Back pain is one of the major complaints of adults working in offices these days, it can decrease productivity and inhibit your concentration. To prevent problems you must understand why your back is hurting and what you can do to prevent it.
Following are the causes of back pain at a desk job:
1) Desk job workers sit in sustained positions in poor posture for extended periods. Certain muscles tighten while others become weak. This repetitive strain causes increased stress on various back structures. If there is no change in the ergonomics of the work station and or a change in posture, the problem will remain.
2) When you sit for longer duration of time you either hunch over or down the chair. This hunched postures puts strain on the spine and leaves the disks vulnerable to irritation and pain. Hunching posture can also overstretch the spinal ligaments which further enhances the pain.
Back Pain can be Prevented
Bad habits and simply not having the right information can cause problems.”Getting out of the positions that cause pain is the most important. Changing ergonomics, desk exercises and simply standing up after about twenty minutes will prevent back pain,” suggests Dr. Scott Michael Schreiber, DC, DACRB, DCBCN, MS, LDN.
- Office chairs should have lumbar support, a natural forward curve. This helps to support the natural curve of your spine. Alternatively, a pillow or rolled up towel used behind your back will also achieve this effect.
- Adjust the height of your chair so you can keep your feet flat on the floor and your knees at 90-degree angles. You can also rest your feet on a prop, like a footrest or even a phone book, for extra support.
- Keep armrests at the proper height. Make sure your arms are at 90-degree angles. This will help to keep your shoulders low and not in a shrugging position.
- Keep your monitor an arm’s-length away and at or slightly below eye level. This will encourage proper posture, instead of leaning in which can cause neck strain. If you find yourself squinting at your monitor, adjust the lighting to reduce strain on the eyes.
Take Breaks After Regular Intervals
When you are working at a desk, always take a break and walk around throughout the day. This stretches the contracted muscles and saves them from becoming taut and stiff. Sitting for a longer intervals without breaks can be harmful for the ligaments, muscles and the spine.
Dr. Hovig Vartanian, DC, DACBN said, “Typically the pattern that I see most commonly is tight hamstrings and glutes muscles, and weak abdominals. You want to stretch on a regular basis and strengthen your core stomach muscles. Everyone’s body is a little different, but most people I would ask to at least start that route. Of course, if they are in acute pain we would approach it differently.”
- Taking short breaks to use the restroom, get a glass of water, or visit the copy machine will help significantly. Sitting for long periods of time can weaken the muscles in your back. Stretching for just 60 seconds is enough to offset these negative effects of sitting.
- Strengthening your core muscles with exercise, such as yoga, Pilates or sit-ups will work your stomach as well your back, which naturally improves your posture and reduces pain.
- Researchers suggest at least half your hours at work should be spent standing up. A sit-stand workstation will allow you to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day.
Treatment Involving a Visit to Your Chiropractor
If you are having back pain a visit to a chiropractor can help you find a solution that works for your body, schedule, and work habits. Chiropractors are experts in diagnosing and treating neuromuscular disorders.
“People think once you go to a chiropractor, you will have to constantly go back. The truth is that it takes time to rehab any musculoskeletal problem. The good news is that as treatment progresses, most patients are able to progress to maintenance care which maintains the progress they’ve made and prevents a flare up of pain in the future,” says Dr. Thomas Pellatt, DC.
The right plan, a little prevention by maintaining good habits and posture can go a long way in keeping your body healthy and pain free.