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?
"My back kills me when I sit"
We heard it a thousand times.
Chances are that all that sitting while working for long periods is causing your back pain. Yup, sore back after sitting 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 want to relieve pain from sitting too long at some point. That sure makes you sit up and take notice! You’ve got too much going on to need a chronic pain timeout.
Added to that harsh stat, back pain causes come in several varieties. The pain you have might also be in your middle or upper body. 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 chronic back pain is the first step to renewed back health. Even better is knowing your risks. That, coupled with the prevention, limits your chances of being one of the four out of five aching adults. Are you ready to beat the backache from sitting too long?
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 a 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!
This is how your back is built. Face it, this part of your skeletal system is pretty darn vital. The spine is central to keeping the human body 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.
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 and poor sitting posture are good cases 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.
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 Due to Prolonged Sitting
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 - ah that poor posture. After all, who wants to feel like they’ve been sitting on cinder blocks and boards all day. Talk about pain!
Is your low back pain worse when sitting?
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'd 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 (adults) are also made to move!
The deal is that sitting puts more pressure on spinal components than standing or lying down. More physical stress is added to the vertebrae, the discs, and supporting stuff like muscles and tendons. Especially when you're in back pain sitting position such as slouching, reclining backward, etc. 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. If lower back pain can't sit, neither should you for as long. Most sources offering tips for excessive sitting back pain relief suggest walking. That’s a good choice. Physical therapy is too if you're feeling it for longer than you can remember.
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!
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 chronic pain. Regular physical activity can make the back stronger to reduce future episodes of chronic 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.”
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 body and Middle Back Wakeouts
Stretching exercise breaks work out the neck pain 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 the waist to the shoulders.
Go For More Lower Back Wakeouts!
Before you go and move some...
Physical activity breaks - although proven to be super helpful - are not your only hope to relieve burdensome back paib. There are other tools to consider that should stack up to eventually revive you of back spasms.
- Get a standing desk - a study found that workers that sat and stood reported feeling less back pain. Maybe you should stand upright too.
- Get an ergonomic chair - if you're just starting to consider improving your workstation, start with our detailed piece on ergonomics.
- Physical therapy - if you're dehydrated, you during water. If you're hot, you take a cold plunge. If you're in pain, you take physical therapy.
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