Your back hurts and you know why! All that sitting and slouching that you’re probably doing right now! Head bowing to the screen of your phone, arms reached out before the keyboard shaped toes of your work computer. It’s rough, but hey, it’s life now and you gotta make that cheddar!
Before I was making my cheddar as a personal trainer I was a student at OSU (go beavs!), then I built a moving company, then I worked in the Marketing Department of Tigard’s own ID Experts. This was admittedly a relatively short desk-based career, but more than enough time to feel the effects on my back!
The causes of these pains are clear, the solutions unfortunately are not. That’s why today’s article offers an actionable plan to combat work-based back pain! Enjoy the educational read, then take a snapshot of the screens below to keep as a reminder to follow through and you save yourself from a world of back pain now and in the future!
Step 1: Attacking the source
Correct seated desk posture
- It’s a trap! Not really, but it does involve traps. Poor posture in the seated position leads to shortened upper trapezius and pectoralis minor muscles. It also leads to lengthened and unresponsive lower trap muscles. What’s that mean? Compare yourself to the image below, how do you compare? If your chest isn’t open, your chin isn’t tucked, and your scapula aren’t drawn down you back you’re not in good posture.
- Take a snapshot and use it as your phone background this week as a reminder of how you should be sitting. It will take some practice, but you can make a difference just by trying. Attack the source and follow through!
Get a standing desk
- Because your legs are so often in a seated position your hip muscles, used to hinge your legs towards your abdomen, adapt to a shortened state. Once adapted to this state these muscles will create a continuous tension pulling your upper body towards your legs, requiring additional effort of your lower back muscles to stand up straight! Imagine that, any time you’re in a standing position your lower back is in a constant battle with itself. No wonder it hurts! (More on relieving this problem in step 2, step one is on attacking the source) The point here is: don’t train your hips to strain your back. Invest in a standing desk (invest in the future of your back!) and spend at least half your time standing.
Step 2: The right exercises
The in-office solutions will help in the long-run, but you want solutions NOW! Patience friends, always be wary of anything or anyone that promises immediate results. Here we offer a short a 3-minute routine that you can do at home or in the gym to speed up your progress!
#1. Stand up and lace your fingers behind your back. Slowly draw your hands down past your butt, opening your chest and squeezing your shoulder blades together and down your back. Enjoy some deep breaths and move your head left and right as you please. Take at least 30 seconds here.
#2. Lay face down, palms facing the ground and arch your back lifting your chest and legs off the ground. Your chin should be tucked in towards your chest and only your abdomen should be on the ground. Do this for 30 seconds.
#3. Lay a foam roller on the ground, lie down placing the back of your hips (where your tailbone meets your hips) on the foam roller and allow your legs to straighten. Relax here for a 1 full minute.
#4. Lay on your back, legs bent so that your feet are shoulder distance apart and your heels are 8-12 inches away from your butt. Using your glutes, lift your hips as high as you can into the air about 20 times.
There is always more you can do, but this is a great start! Just remember, the key to success in anything in life is consistency. Studies show that doing anything at the same time everyday (once you wake up, before you go to bed, after lunch… etc) improves long-term habit-forming consistency. So make the changes in the office, set your background as a reminder, and fit this little routine somewhere into your day! You’ll be feeling and looking better in no time!