If you work in an office, chances are likely that you’ve experienced back pain. In fact, studies confirm it. A survey conducted by the Occupational Health and Safety Act of the Ministry of Labor, Ontario found that 27.4% people experience back pain within the first 3 hours of work. This likelihood goes up as the day goes on. To make matters worse, the older you get, the more susceptible you are to back pain.
We don’t often consider the risks of working at a desk for long hours. Repetitive movement and stagnation, over the course of 8 hours each day, has a strong impact on our bodies. What begins as normal, irritating backache can easily become out of control. If not taken seriously, office related pain can quickly escalate to permanent injury, such as disc herniation or sciatica.
The spine and back are the most important structural support system of your body. It allows you to walk, to run, to stand. In order to ensure that we grow old standing tall and pain-free, we must become conscious about how to care for our backs in an office-based profession.
How to Prevent Back Pain at Work
1. Take a Break Every Half Hour
The worst enemy for any muscle group, especially the spine, is stagnation. When we’re at our desks working away, the back is working by itself to keep you upright. This is opposed to when we’re standing, where other supportive muscle groups like the abs and obliques work to keep you upright in 360 degrees.
Set a timer on your phone to get up out of your chair and take a quick walk every 30 minutes. This will help loosen up the back muscles, give them a much needed break, and rejuvenate your circulation.
2. Get Your Stretch On
When you’re seated and still, over time your muscles start to shorten and shrink. Your body becomes a virtual tug-of-war, as the tight muscles are pulling your body various ways. If you slouch or curve forward at the neck, this is probably why.
You don’t have to do yoga, although yoga is great for the spine. I had severe back pain in my lower spine due to three bulging discs. Yoga was the only thing that helped me recover. However, simply doing some morning or mid-day stretches will serve the purpose of counter-acting the effects of office life.
3. Stay Hydrated
Office environments are typically very dehydrating and dry. The AC is constantly running. We’re drinking coffee all day.
The body naturally produces nutrients, such as the anti-inflammatory cortisol, which directly help to reduce back pain. Assist your body’s natural response system by staying hydrated and assisting it in distributing vital nutrients to your body. Drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water per day.
4. Sit Property
Your mommy always told you to sit up straight and she had good cause. When you’re sat upright, the vertebrate stack on each other. In this position it takes minimal effort from the muscles to keep you up. Over time you’ll develop your core muscles and sitting with good posture become much more easier than slouching.
Think about investing in a good ergonomic chair. One of most critical muscles involved in backache is called the psoas. It’s located at the front of the hips and directly connects to the lumbar spine. When this muscle starts to tighten, it can be immediately felt as backache.
A kneeling chair is designed such that there is an increased angle in the hip area, allowing your psoas to stay open and discouraged from tightening. Review sites such as www.kneelingofficechairs.com provide recommendations and evaluate the pros and cons of these ergonomic chairs.
5. Hit the Gym
Getting proper exercise will keep the muscles toned and more capable to handle the burdens of office life. Although we might not have the amount of free time we did when we were young, it becomes even more important to maintain a level of fitness as we age.
Cardiovascular equipment such as the elliptical machine are great at building core muscles, a key muscle group that helps you maintain good posture. Simply exercising for one hour per week will ensure that the rest of the week’s 167 hours are better enjoyed.