You love your work! You’re also grateful it’s remote. Your employer is all for it, as are your family and friends. Given all that, it’s annoying that your back isn’t cooperating. Why? How come, with everything else going so well? Chances are that all that sitting while working is causing your back pain. Yup, it certainly is worse than annoying.

Common Risks & Causes of Back Pain

The sad story is that being an adult can put you at risk for lower back pain. Who knew? Yet, four out of five of us will be affected at some time. That sure makes you sit up and take notice! You’ve got too much going on to need a back-pain time out.

Added to that harsh stat, back pain causes come in several varieties. The pain you have might also be in your middle or upper back. All it takes is the slightest wrong move to bring a strong person to their knees. The added dilemma is trying to figure out what happened to bring on back pain in the first place.

It’s true. Figuring out the root cause of back pain is the first step to renewed back health. Even better is knowing your risks. That, coupled with prevention, limits your chances of being one of the four out of five aching adults. Are you ready to beat the odds?

Time to take a brief look at back pain risks and causes. Some are structural. That’s a tidy way of referring to how you're built. Some of that can change as you age, and not necessarily for the better. Oh, goody! Then there’s the functional category, as in how a person moves or sits. If you’re guessing that involves work and athletics, you’re right. A third category is lifestyle as what you do, or don’t do, can bring on pain, or help to avoid it altogether.

These categories are simplified to quickly inform you about the issues brought on by prolonged sitting. Then we’ll get into what you can do now to ease back pain. Now you’re heading in the direction of beating the back pain odds!

Structural

This is how your back is built. Face it, this part of your skeletal system is pretty darn vital. Your spine is central to keeping you upright and going, day after day. It protects all those message interactions between your brain and your body parts.

Okay, that’s a simplistic description, yet you get the point. Your back is complex and  really, really important. It’s made up of bones, ligaments, muscles, discs, and more. There are five sections, each with a set of the boney vertebrae: Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar, Sacrum, and Coccyx. The vertebrae of the top three sections support twisting, bending and other actions. The bottom two have fused vertebrae. When all of these structures are in tip-top shape, moving goes on without a hitch. Without pain or spasms. That’d be nice, huh?

Some people develop a spinal formation issue or spine condition early in life. Others develop structural problems later in life. Most of these mean living with back pain all or most of the time. Examples include scoliosis, a type of spine curvature; and osteoporosis, a condition when the vertebra loses their bony calcification. Another is bulging or ruptured discs, occurring when the protective buffers between the vertebrae are injured, often resulting in a pinched nerve.

There are many structural causes of back pain. If you’re having ongoing trouble, it’s wise to read up on them and speak with your doctor.

Functional

This is about why and how you use your back. It relates really well to job descriptions that include a requirement to lift 25 or even 50 pounds. Youch! Better be some good on-the-job-training and equipment for that work. At the same time, functional effects on back health include the technology, machines, and seating you use.

Every job has functions that can affect your body, including your back. Ha! Remote work is a good case in point. That’s especially true if you’re sitting for prolonged periods. We’ll come back to that point after getting into lifestyle matters.

For women, the structural/functional load may be having a baby on board. You guessed it, pregnancy can contribute to back pain as functional movements shift with altered weight distribution.

Lifestyle

A good part of lifestyle has to do with choice. Where you live, what you wear, and what you consume are examples. Maybe you know someone who wears high-heeled shoes or eats lavishly and is up more than a few pounds. These lifestyle choices may affect their back. If not now, that could happen later.

Then there’s someone else who’s careful about footwear choices and their nutrition. They’re making choices that reduce back pain risks. It doesn’t mean that won’t happen. Rather, they’re focused on back health steps.

Remote Work & Back Pain

Back to you. Here you are, spending X number of hours working remotely each week. This too has to do with lifestyle and life–work balance. That brings up another point about back pain risks. One is emotions, especially in response to stress. This lifestyle choice here is about managing stress and laughing a little to lighten your load.

We’ll get into that as we share the benefits of Wakeout! That'll get you moving. Now’s also a good time to look at your home office setup. Maybe it’s time to invest in some ergonomically sound furniture. After all, who wants to feel like they’ve been sitting on cinder blocks and boards all day. Talk about pain!

Why Sitting Can Hurt So

Hey, what’s up with sitting causing all these aches? Most likely you first noticed it when you were a little kid. Everyone told you to sit still. Even then, sometimes it hurt. Hey, you were only a kid, and little people are made to move! Over the years, you’ve found that sitting too long hurts. As in, ouch! The bottom line is, big people (as in adults) are also made to move!

The deal is that sitting puts more pressure on spinal components than standing or lying down. No matter what the seat is, more physical stress is added to the vertebrae, the discs, and supporting stuff like muscles and tendons. So, where does that leave you? The short answer is: Sit less. The well-informed answer is: Move more, and do so frequently.

In this case, frequent means every 30 minutes. Most sources offering tips for back pain relief suggest walking. That’s a good choice. Others suggest stretching and some flexibility routines. You have a sense of urgency and want to act now. You’ve decided it’s time to reduce your risk or limit the spasms you already have. Either way, we’ve got happy news for you!

We’ve Got Your Back: Wakeout Exercise Breaks that Work!

A 1-minute lower back tension release routine | Wakeout

Here’s the ticket! Heed the advice about getting up and moving every 30 minutes. Wakeout has routines for groovin’ for your back’s sake.

“Movement is the best way to ward off back pain. Regular physical activity can make the back stronger to reduce future episodes of pain. Exercises should focus on increasing strength and improving range of motion — as well as ensuring balance on both sides of the body, as some back pain can start when one side of the body is stronger than the other.”

Harvard Health Publishing, 2020

The Break-Through Benefits of Exercise Breaks!

It’s time to step into Wakeout’s back-saving benefits! That includes stretching, boosting strength, and increasing flexibility. Here’s an overview to get you going.

Upper and Middle Back Wakeouts

Stretching exercise breaks work out the neck and shoulder kinks that trigger upper back pain. There are snappy moves to warm up your middle back. A couple to try are Chair Running and Elbow Drums. Notice how each complements the other to work out tightness from waist to shoulders.

Lower Back Wakeouts

Ah yes, the lower back, site of spasms and affect so many industrious people. The Shimmy is good. Start slow. No need to increase the pace until your back says “okay!”

The "Lower back warm up" pack is the go-to when your back is tight as you roll out in the morning. Start slowly to see how you’re feeling with each move. Notice those slight squats. They’re super for leg strengthening, a true back benefit.

Now you pick! Remember the guidance to get up and move? The 8 Desk Exercises that’ll raise your spirits do just that! Get up and start moving in whatever way works best for you.

Try out each exercise break a few times to decide if it works for you. You’re likely to find that combining at least a couple offers you optimal benefits.

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