Back Pain From Sitting at Your Desk?
By Pierre Mouchette | Bits-n-Pieces
Many people spend much time sitting, whether it is at a desk or on the couch. 1 in 4 Americans sit for more than 8 hours per day. Experts state that sitting may cause or contribute to lower back pain, a problem that almost 80% of adults will experience at some point.
In general, inactivity is linked to a higher risk of health problems. If you have lower back pain when sitting, you might wonder how you can get some relief. Fortunately, several ways exist to ease this type of pain and prevent it from happening.
What causes lower back pain when sitting?
There are many reasons that you may have lower back pain when sitting. Muscle strain or sprain is the most common cause of pain in the lower back, accounting for 70% of all cases. But underlying conditions can also play a role, so talking to your health care provider about new or ongoing pain is essential.
Common conditions that can cause back pain when sitting include:
What is the best sitting position for lower back pain?
While there is no best sitting position for lower back pain, some are better than others. For one thing, your feet should be flat on the floor. If you cannot reach the floor, you may need to adjust the height of your chair.
Also, your lumbar curve (in your lower back) must be supported (by the chair, lumbar support, or even a rolled-up towel). Make sure you keep your shoulders back and your head in a neutral position. Avoid crossing your legs when sitting, especially for long periods, since doing this can cause muscle imbalances or spinal deformities. Keeping the hips and knees at a 90-degree angle when sitting is also helpful for alignment.
Tips for treating or preventing lower back pain when sitting at a desk
The following research-backed tips can help treat or prevent lower back pain when sitting.
Take short, active breaks - Even with proper posture, too much sitting can harm your health. Moving around or changing your posture may reduce back and shoulder discomfort. Research suggests that standing up and moving every 30 minutes can lower the risk of health issues associated with prolonged sitting, including mortality. So try to take short, active breaks from sitting throughout the day. It helps to increase circulation and keep your muscles loose. Taking longer and more frequent breaks, around 5 minutes every 30 minutes, may also help manage blood sugar levels. Nevertheless, take your breaks for as long or as short as your schedule allows, whether a 10-minute workout or standing up to stretch for a few minutes.
Adjust your desk chair and computer height - When your computer screen is too high or low, it can strain your neck and back. So ensure your computer is the right height when sitting at your desk. According to the experts, your eyes should hit the center of your computer screen when you look straight ahead. If you do not have an adjustable monitor, you can use a tool like a laptop stand to change your computer height. Staying roughly 20 in. to 40 in. away from your monitor may also help you avoid eyestrain and awkward postures.
When should you worry about lower back pain?
Experts say acute back pain should typically resolve in 2 to 3 weeks. If not, check in with your health care provider to get to the root of your problem. You should go to the emergency room if you have back pain after an injury, such as a fall or car accident. You should also check with your provider if you have a prior medical condition, such as cancer or osteoporosis, and have back pain.
Other signs that you should see a provider for lower back pain include:
Note: This article does not state obvious solutions for short-term relief, such as:
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