Have you ever wondered why your “case of the Mondays” is in full force by lunchtime on Monday? You’re ready to throw in the towel and the countdown to the weekend has already begun, that’s if you even make it to the infamous ‘hump day’. Do you just hate your job that much or is it your colleagues grating on your nerves with mindless chatter? Or does your boss expect too much for your pittance of a salary?
As much as those things make your workday slightly annoying, the real culprit is the pain you suffer in your neck and back region that makes each day more unbearable than the day before. This pain is distracting you from doing what it takes to score that big promotion, engaging in friendly banter with your coworkers and enjoying your life outside of the office.
The bad news is that lower back pain becomes a main part of your life, not just at the office but at home and social engagements. Reducing back pain at work will give you more energy in all areas of your life.
How It Develops
Back pain at the office does have its origins and how you sit, stand and lift at the office, as well as how long you sit or stand and how accurately you lift heavy objects. But even more important than that, back pain at the office has more to do with the ways in which the body must adapt to how you sit and stand and lift.
How you sit, for example, requires that your back muscles and spine adapt to your posture after long periods of sitting. Your back must re-align to the spinal posture you adapt, to the weight placed upon different parts of the body such as the pelvis and hips. Additionally, long periods of sitting without a break can cause stiff hip flexors and a weak bottom.
The primary result of this is a muscle imbalance, most likely caused by what we call a postural dysfunction, or bad posture. By forcing your spine into an unnatural position for prolonged periods of time, back pain is the inevitable conclusion.
What You Can Do
These muscle balances, while initiated at work, are also a result of lifestyle choices you make each day. In addition to your posture at your desk, whether or not you work out and remain inactive in your free time, your diet and other factors help create back pain. While you must work in order to pay your bills and enjoy your life, there are things you can do to reduce back pain.
Rather than sitting in an ergonomically insufficient desk chair all day long, consider spending 30 to 40 percent of the time on a therapy ball. This ball will allow you to move your hip flexors and requires you to strengthen core muscles to sit up straight while you work.
Back Pain Action Plan
Take A Break once each hour you’re sitting. Stand up and walk around your desk, take a call standing up or make sure you’re moving your legs and hip flexors to stretch them out. Take about 10 minutes away from sitting, even if you can’t break out of the office for a moment. Stand up to take calls or read memos.
If you keep a white board in your office for inspiration, place it on the other side of the room so you can brainstorm standing up, giving your back a much-needed break.
Standing. If you spend a large portion of the day standing make sure your shoes are comfortable with arch support. Shoes without proper support will place pressure on your lower back.
Avoid standing unevenly, that is to say with more weight one leg, or you will cause a muscle imbalance or spinal misalignment. Equal footing will help you avoid favoring one leg over the other, thereby preventing pain causing muscle imbalances.
Lifting improperly, rather than lifting heavy objects is the main source of back pain when your job requires repeatedly lifting objects. It is how you lift the object and how you hold it that stresses the spine. Lifting improperly places stress from the weight of the object on the back, rather than distributing the weight throughout the legs as it should. This is even worse when you already suffer from an undiagnosed muscle imbalance.
Stress, it is something in which very few adults can avoid and it plays a starring role in muscle tension, which makes your body more susceptible to injury. The other thing about stress is that is makes you less able to tolerate pain, which seems to amplify the pain due to postural dysfunction and muscle imbalances.
Relieving stress is an important part of relieving or eliminating back pain. There will always be stress in life, but your method of dealing with the stress will determine how severe your back pain becomes. Your emotional attitude about your back pain plays a large role in the healing process, which is why it is important to learn everything you can about your back problems.
The more you know about it, the better able you will be to have a positive approach to treatment.