Humans weren’t made to sit at a desk all day (desk jockey) or commute in a care for over an hour. Thus, most people who come into our office with neck and back pain are people who sit at desks all day. Why does this cause pain in our neck and back? What are some exercises we can do to help alleviate it? What else can we do to correct the years of sitting down?
Why do we get back pain with sitting?
Both back pain and neck pain are common among those who sit for long periods of time. There’s nothing we can do about needing to work but there are things we can do to make it more enjoyable.
Neck pain arises because we are typically in a worse position at the end of the day than the beginning. When we first get to work, we are awake (mostly) and ready to start the day. Ass the day goes on, our shoulders start to hunch forward and the head starts to droop forward. This loads the muscles in the neck and low back tremendously. Do that for 8 hours a day for 5 days a week for 5-15 years and you can see why people start to get pain in their neck. It’s like grabbing a 10 lb weight (weight of your head) and holding it in front of you for hours. Seems impossible right?!
Low back pain arises from a few different reasons. First, hunching over like explained above will load the low back with an extra 200 lbs. That s a lot of pressure on the low back! Next, because of the sitting position of the legs out at 90 degrees, hip-flexors will becomes tight and pull on the low back. This in turn will cause a tug-o-war between the front and back of the body causing back pain to ensue. This can lead to sciatica later down the line if you don’t do anything about it. Check out our blog if you want to know more about sciatica.
Exercises to help alleviate
A few exercises for the pains mentioned above are pretty easy. First is the neck stretch for your trapezius muscle. Moving your head around the clock, find the muscles that are tight and gently pull in that direction with your hand when found. next with the hip-flexor muscle. Take a knee on the ground and lean your hips forward and you should feel a stretch in the crease of your pant. Stretching both of these multiple times a day will help you stay a little more limber and slow down the process. To reverse it, you’ll need to actually move the bones through chiropractic care.
Correct years of sitting
Depending on how far along you are will determine how correctable your situation is. If your neck has degeneration and is developing arthritis from years of sitting, then the best thing we can do is stabilize it. If you just have a loss of curve in your neck then correcting it to take the pressure off your neck and shoulders will help to make sure it doesn’t come back. If your head is leaning forward, for every inch your head is forward, it adds an additional 10 lbs of pressure onto your neck and shoulders.
Correcting your neck position and hips unleveling from years of sitting will help ensure you can stay healthy and pain free.
I hope this helps. If you or someone you know is suffering from pains in the workplace, please don’t hesitate to contact us and figure out how we can help.
Yours in health,
Dr. Alex Willard