You spend hours behind a desk each day or in a seated position, and your back is becoming increasingly achy. There are many reasons why prolonged sitting can lead to back pain (and more), and it pays to take a few simple steps to protect your spine.
As our name suggests, the highly qualified team here at Spinal Diagnostics specializes in the spine, and we see many patients who complain of back and neck pain due to prolonged sitting.
Here’s a look at what happens to your body when you’re seated for long periods, as well as a few tips to help keep back pain at bay.
There’s nothing like taking a load off when you’ve been standing all day, but the effect of sitting all day can be equally as damaging and painful.
When you’re seated for long periods, several things can occur, including:
- Added pressure on your intervertebral discs (even more than standing)
- Muscle spasms along your spine and in your neck and shoulders
- Shortened hip flexors, which can pull on your back
- Weakened glute muscles
While your spine may feel the brunt of prolonged sitting, you can see that this position isn’t doing your neck, shoulder, hips, and buttocks any favors, either.
The bottom line is that your body is made for moving, and when you’re sedentary, muscles can tighten, soft tissues can shorten, and your overall musculoskeletal system can weaken. All of these events can also set you up for other problems, such as a herniated disc or arthritis.
While there may be little you can do about the number of hours you need to sit each day, there are steps you can take to minimize the impact of this position on your spine.
First, you should outfit yourself with a proper, ergonomically designed chair. This is more important than ever as many people find themselves working from home thanks to the global pandemic, and they may be perched on dining room chairs or couches.
No matter how well your desk chair is designed, however, you must use it properly. To achieve a good sitting posture, make sure your buttocks touch the back of the chair so that your spine is well supported along its entire length. Also, make sure that your shoulders are back and that your weight is spread evenly on your two hip joints. Lastly, place both feet on the floor and resist the urge to cross them while seated.
A great technique for achieving a good sitting posture is to sit down and arch your back. Now release this arch by about 10%, and you’ll achieve a straight position for your spine.
Finally, we urge you to get up at least every hour, stretch out your back, and walk around. Simply bending down to touch your toes can relieve the pressure on your discs and stretch your muscles.
If you’ve developed back pain as a result of prolonged sitting, we urge you to contact one of our two locations in Tualatin or Newberg, Oregon, so that we can treat your pain and set you up with some great prevention techniques moving forward.