Combating 9-5 Low Back Pain
One of the most common complaints our office receives is the pain and discomfort office workers can feel after working their nine to five desk job. The unfortunate fact is, even a little bit of poor posture can lead to long term back pain. An example I often cite for my patients to help illustrate the point is that by leaning forward a mere 30 degrees in an attempt to get closer to your computer screen this puts an increase of three to four TIMES more strain on your back. Over time this causes unnecessary wear on your joint surfaces in the spine, ligaments, and lumbar discs.
How can we combat the culprit that gives you your livelihood? Here are some suggestions if you are one of the many office workers within the Okanagan.
Biomechanics and Ergonomics
Biomechanics is the study of the living body, specifically, the forces exerted by muscles and gravity on the skeletal structures. Ergonomics is the study of an individual’s efficiency in their working environment. While not everyone can adopt a standing desk to dramatically transition their postural limitations at work, Vida Chiropractic has constructed a short list of resources that can be adopted by any office worker quickly and cost free.
We cannot stress enough the importance of ergonomics when adjusting your office chair but this extends beyond just the height of the seat to include elements like arm rest height, seat width and depth, as well as lumbar support and keyboards being placed within an appropriate reach. An ergonomic evaluation of your office environment will bring an added level of body awareness to your work routine and can be performed personally. We also encourage scheduling stretch break reminders programmed into your phone or computer to ensure you are moving more than once to the lunch room and bathroom throughout the day.
Below are some stretches we recommend to keep your spine in a neutral position.
Stretch 1: Clasping hands and pulling back to open up your chest and pectoral muscles
Stretch 2: Sliding to the front of your chair, grabbing the back of your seat and arching
Stretch 3 Hip Flexor Stretch: Start down on one knee, keep torso upright and shift your body forward. You should feel the stretch in the front of the hip of the leg down on the ground. Hold 15-20 seconds, repeat 3-5 times on each leg.
Office Chair Techniques
For everyone it is difficult, and at times almost impossible to maintain adequate posture in a desk chair and while working long hours in front of computer monitors. Unfortunately it is easy to get engrossed in your work and stop paying attention to your body, ignoring pain and staying focused on incoming emails instead.
A technique adopted years ago can provide a fool proof method for ensuring you stay actively aware of if you are hunching towards your screen. It involves nothing more sophisticated than a tennis ball. Place the tennis ball between the middle of your back and the office chair, the ball will be held in place while maintaining proper posture, but will noticeably slide down your back as you begin to tilt forward. This can quickly help you get into the habit of maintaining proper posture.
General Tips for Back Pain Sufferers
– wear comfortable office attire that will not bind when you are at your desk
– stretching should be pain free, do not force the body into difficult positions
– hold stretches long enough to be effective, 15-20 seconds and repeat 3-5 times
– keep moving as much as possible, stand up or walk around at least once every 30 minutes, use an active seating device to help keep core muscles engaged and supporting your spine Example: Kabalo BLUE Stability Disc Wobble Cushion Balance Pad
– incorporate options to change your workplace set-up, sit/standing desks are very affordable (employers will often pay for them too) Example: Rocelco Height Adjustable Standing Desk Riser
Lastly, you have to be realistic that breaking postural habits takes time! Teaming up with health care professionals like postural corrective chiropractors can assist you in reprogramming how your structural and muscular elements respond to office environments. Office workers spend thousands of hours sitting in an office chair which means there is a lot of opportunity to see posture weaken or strengthen if you are taking the right steps.
To schedule your chiropractic adjustment, call our office today, 250 861 5444