Reasons Why Excessive Sitting and Sedentary Lifestyle Lead to Back Pain

back pain preventionIn the modern world, many people spend time sitting down behind a desk connecting with clients across the globe. Gone are the days when most business owners meet customers by traveling across the world. In addition to that, it all boils down to sedentary work that involves no movement but sitting in one place during long hours of meetings. This will lead to gradual wasting of our muscles, especially around the lower abdomen and pelvis, and in the end cause back pain. Numbers show that American adults spend about 10 hours a day sitting down. Here are  some wrong habits that contribute to the affliction in your lower back.

 Sitting for Long Hours

The first primary reason why you get back pain is that you sit for too long without a break. It means that once you get to your work station, you don’t move for quite some time leading to the affliction in your lower back. Poor circulation to certain parts of the body, like buttocks and low back persists for a long time.  You need to know that your body is not wired to be inactive for a long time. On that account, when you don’t move, the over-pressured parts will start to degenerate. This way, you  may have low back inflammation.

What’s more, sedentary work causes back pain since the overly tensed parts of your body doesn’t receive adequate nutrients and oxygen, leading to numbness and suffering. One of the best ways to avert the problem is to drink more water,  so that you can have the urge to visit the bathroom more often, and have more water in your body to support vital functions.

Sitting slouched and leaning from the Lower Back

This is a very common way of sitting, especially on a couch, as it doesn’t require much effort and feels comfortable. The muscles in the trunk are generally relaxed and you depend on passive structures such as discs and ligaments to hold the body posture. This posture is the common cause of disc degeneration, even slipped disc. If you feel some numbness in the leg after sitting for a long time in the slouchy way, you may be having slipped disc.  

Sitting with a very straight back

This is the opposite way from the slouch sitting. Some people think that since sitting slouch is bad for health, we should always sit straight. however by maintaining a tense erect posture constantly, the back muscles become overtired and not able to relax even when you move away from sitting position. Sitting with your legs crossed and maintaining an erect back is making it even worse. The circulation in the lower abdomen and groin region will be compromised in this posture. Yet quite a number of people, more commonly among ladies, believe that is a good posture for back. 

Sitting with Head Forward

The weight of an adult head is about 10 lbs. If you lean your head forward, you will be placing additional weight to your neck and lower back. It is estimated at every additional 10 degrees in neck bending creates 100% more load to the base of neck and back. The stress travels down slowly from your head, and within a short period, you will get upper back pain that comes with a sharp reminder. Therefore, it is prudent not to position your head too forward from the rest of the body as it leads to detrimental effects.  

Rolling Shoulders to the Front

Another important reason why you suffer from back pain is rolling shoulders forward as you sit. You tend to do this if your arms are always placed in the front for typing or using a mouse, or writing.  Your upper back muscles get overstretched and weakened, making you have difficulty lifting heavy objects or reach overhead.  Rolling shoulders forward is usually also coupled with poke-chin posture. It means that you will not be sitting in a good posture that distributes weight evenly for the ideal balance. The strain will be in your lower back, and you are at risk of lower back pain as well.

 Elbows Far from the Body

If you are working on a project and you place your elbows further away from the body, like when using the mouse, typing, or during cooking, you may end up with back pain too. If you are typing or writing some work, you might not feel it within the first few hours. However, as time goes by, pain will gradually develop.

The position is not advisable since as you sit and your elbows are far, your shoulders get strained from suspending the weight of your upper limb constantly and transmit the same to your upper back. The result will be an ache over the shoulder or the upper back region.  When the muscle spasm is strong, even taking painkillers may not help, and require you to visit a doctor or physiotherapist.  

Talking on the Phone as you work

Imagine if you receive a phone call without earphones or Bluetooth, and your hands are still busy typing, you have to hold the phone  between your ear and shoulder. It might seem like a good thing to multitask, but you are generating neck pain unknowingly if it is sustained for some time. It causes a loss of balance to your body; hence, stressing out the neck and upper back in the end.  

Uncomfortable Chair

As we all have different heights and limb lengths. Not all chairs can fit us perfectly. In order for you to sit on a chair comfortably, the depth of the chair needs to allow your back to properly rest against the backrest, while the feet are still able to firmly rest on the floor. Having an over-sized chair makes you feel like sinking into the chair when you sit in deeply, while it fails to support you sufficiently when you choose to only sit over the front edge of the chair so that your feet can still rest on the ground. On the contrary, if the chair you sit on is too small or too short for your height, you will find the legs and back pain tend to happen due to over cramping into a folded position. 

On the other hand, it is better to sit on a chair with wheels than a fixed chair when we work. When we sit for a long time, the body circulation slows down with the absence of trunk movement. If the chair under us is mobile, our muscles are still working and resting from time to time, thus promoting better circulation. When we need to reach out to the sides to get something, a mobile chair allows us not to overstretch our body and cause back pain. 

Does the softness of the chair surface matter? Yes it does! Some of us may feel like sitting on a soft couch or sofa for work. However the soft surface does not support the body into a more erect posture to take the load effectively, therefore our muscles tend to over strain by holding weird postures. Of course the chair surface should not be too hard that makes your buttock cheeks feel sore from sitting.

Lack of Minor Exercises

When the workload gets intense, sometimes we feel like working for a long time to meet the deadline. If you sit for quite some time without stretching, back pain will set in without warning. Additionally, being busy doesn’t mean that you don’t take bathroom breaks at all. For instance, if you have a meeting, you can excuse yourself; otherwise, you can  get low back tingling. Walking around the office is a great way to eliminate back pain since you get to relive body strain. If you are unsure what exercise you can do to relieve the pain, please visit a physiotherapist who can help you treat back pain and teach you the best exercises for you.

 Underlying Medical Conditions

Excessive sitting can also aggravate your back pain if you have existing medical problems. The low back sting only gets worse since you are suffering from specific ailments. Some of these issues could be the result of our past injury, like an accident or sports injury that you went through while in the field. Some are linked to systemic health conditions.  Here are some of the conditions that commonly present with  back pain: 

  • Spinal fracture
  • Herniated disc
  • Kidney stones
  • Gallbladder issues
  • Abdominal artery tumor
  • Spine infections
  • Arthritis
  • Certain cancers

How to Avert Back Pain

Back pain is not something that you should  take lightly since it may get worse over time. Therefore, it is best to seek physiotherapy services once you feel the back pain is too much to handle, as physiotherapists can assess your body properly and identify the nature of the injury and help you get rid of the back pain before it gets worse.

It is also essential to heed to medical advice once the physiotherapy expert tells you what to do, as you need to use regular exercises as a way to restore good posture and balance. This way, your back will go back to normal, and the bones will get healthy and anchor your body. As part of the ways to get rid of back pain, you can take breaks at the office after sitting for 30 minutes. It will help relax all the muscles, and you will not strain your body at all.

Final Thoughts

Your back is a critical part of your body, as it is the central pillar to hold the body together. Therefore investing on an ergonomic chair to support you properly, adopting good posture and muscle habits with guidance from your physiotherapist, and having regular exercises such as aerobics, yoga, walking, jogging will go a long way to ensure your back serves you well for the whole life!