Today I want to tackle the topic of how to relieve back pain at work. This subject is unfortunately very near and dear to me. I have been dealing with back problems most of my adult life, so I am definitely speaking from a position of experience. If you would like to know some of my tips and tricks for dealing with back pain at work, you have come to the right place.
I’ve become a kind of pseudo-expert at relieving back pain while at work. How? I have had sciatic pain so bad it hurt to drive to work, and once I got there, I could barely make it from the parking lot to my desk. I have also had spinal stenosis and was not able to stand upright, as I was bent over about 30-degrees at the waist. I have also dealt with lots of problems in between.
Varying your posture
Most of us sit a lot during the day. I sit on my 45-minute drive to work, sit at work, then sit again on my commute home. That is a lot of sitting. Sitting is tough on people with back problems. One thing that I do during the day is varying my posture as much as possible.
I make sure that I get up from my chair frequently throughout the day. I do have a sit-stand desk in my cubicle, so I can stand up whenever I need to and get off my butt. Check out our roundup of the best sit-stand workstations. They are a great option at home and at work. I love my sit-stand desk and it is just one more tool to help me vary my posture throughout the day.
In my opinion, it is not good to stand all day, nor is it good to sit all day. That is why alternating positions is the best option. When I sit too much, my hip flexors get tight and so do my hamstrings. So, by standing throughout the day, I am able to help relieve some of this tension that has built up in my hips.
Drink a lot of water
That’s right, water, not Coke or Pepsi, go old fashioned water. Drinking water is great for a lot of reasons, but it is really important for your spine. The vertebrae in our backs are separated by discs. These discs act as shock absorbers for daily activities like bending or moving, so the bones (vertebrae) don’t rub together.
The center of these discs are filled mostly with water. As we go about our daily routine, even just standing or sitting, the discs are compressed and water squeezes out. It is really important to keep our bodies properly hydrated, so the discs can continue their cushioning function.
The other point I want to make about drinking water is, the more water you drink, the more you have to go to the bathroom. The more trips you make the to the bathroom, this makes you get up and walk to the restroom. Walking is one way to get out of your seat and get into a new position. So drinking a lot of water has multiple benefits.
You may not be familiar with the piriformis muscle, but it is a muscle buried deep under your butt, and runs right on top of the sciatic nerve. When the piriformis muscle is inflamed or irritated, it can cause issues and pain with the sciatic nerve.
You can experience tingling or numbness down your leg, even into your feet. Anyway, I find it very helpful to perform these stretching exercises routinely a few times during the day. You can do them in the comfort of your chair and privately for the most part.
Well, I wrote a post about lower back stretches you can do at work. I use these exercises to stretch out my hip flexors and hamstrings as well as the piriformis muscle.
Go for a walk
Yes, you can relieve back pain by walking. I would highly recommend doing this a few times during the day. I get out for a walk after I have been in the office for a couple of hours in the morning. This really helps to loosen up my hips and hamstrings.
I know this depends on the type of job you have, or what the weather is like, but even walking around the office is great. Again, this all goes back to just varying your posture throughout the day so you are not stuck in the same position all day long. Check out this post for the benefits of walking as it relates to back pain.
Have you tried a seat cushion?
I recently did some research for a post about seat cushions for back pain. I love my seat cushion and have tried several. Now this is not a device that is meant to be used all day to sit on, but you can definitely get some relief from back pain by using a seat cushion. A lot of the cushions are designed with a coccyx (tailbone) cutout and this helps to relieve pressure off of that area.
A seat cushion helps to evenly distribute the weight of you body, so that all of the weight is not concentrated on your tailbone and lower back. I purchased a memory foam cushion and it works great. Even though I have a nice chair at work, adding a nice thick, comfy cushion is certainly a bonus. Again, this is just another way to try something different to change things up.
Lumbar supports are great too
Check out my post on lumbar support cushions help to maintain the natural curvature of your spine. With that, lumbar supports can help you maintain a proper seated position and keep your posture in check. All of these things will help to keep you positioned correctly and reduce stress on your lower back. A lot of people tend to slouch when they are seated at the computer for a long time. Slouching can contribute to back pain.
Conclusion: How To Relieve Back Pain At Work
Well, these are some of the things that I do during the day to help with my back problems. Depending on the severity of your back problems, you may not be able to stretch or go for a lengthy walk, I have been there. But things like using a sit-stand workstation, or sitting on a cushion can really help.
At the end of the day, I find that a variety of different techniques really help me get through the day. Like I said, I don’t like to be in one single position, whether it is sitting or standing for too long at one time.
If your back problems are severe, I would definitely recommend you talk to a doctor, chiropractor, or other healthcare providers before you stretch, embark on any kind of treatment. Not that this post is about treatment, but more about helps tips that have worked for me over the years.