What does sitting do to my back?
Prolonged sitting along with bending, twisting and lifting are the major mechanical causes of back pain. The spine is designed to be upright, so the sitting posture creates muscle tension, joint strain, and pressure on the discs in between your vertebrae. After only 15 to 20 minutes of sitting at a desk or computer station the back muscles become fatigued. As muscles become overloaded in this posture, they tighten to protect themselves. This protective reaction by the body eventually leads to back pain.
How Can I Relax My Back Muscles?
The first and most important thing to do is to stand up frequently. Micro breaks every 20 minutes are crucial to preventing the muscles from tightening. A short walk every hour also reinvigorates the back muscles. Gentle exercise has two effects – first, it brings nutrients, like oxygen, into the muscles; and second, it drains irritating toxins away from the painful area. The result is that we break the self-sustaining pain-tension cycle which otherwise would gradually build up.
The other way to prevent back pain is to use ergonomically designed office equipment. A professional assessment of your work station is ideal, but in the absence of this, here are some guidelines;
Work stations are very individual, so there may be many more things you can do to improve your posture and reduce the impact on your body. So feel free to talk to your osteopath if you have any concerns or questions.
Pr. Alois Brügger, a Swiss neurologist, developed a very simple exercise to activate the muscles weakened from sitting while simultaneously stretching those tightened by this posture.
While sitting in your chair follow these simple steps:
This can be performed once or twice for every 20-30 minutes of prolonged sitting.