Back pain can come from a sports injury, a car accident, arthritis, a tumor, or fibromyalgia, but you may not be in any of those categories. You may have back pain for a simpler reason. Leading a sedentary lifestyle may be the culprit. That’s right; not moving enough can cause chronic back pain.
You may think, “I’m not a couch potato,” but after you consider it, how many hours a day are you sitting? If most of your day is spent working on the computer and the remainder is engaged in activities such as reading, using mobile phones, watching TV, playing video games, or engaging in sedentary social activities, then you lead a sedentary lifestyle.
The good news is that no matter the cause of your pain, we can help. Pro Rehab Chiropractic and Rehabilitation’s board-certified and specially trained doctors routinely diagnose and relieve musculoskeletal pain, even when it’s caused by excessive sitting.
Why does a sedentary lifestyle cause back pain?
It’s counterintuitive to think that sitting and relaxing can cause back pain, but it’s true. Your backbone consists of small individual bones called vertebrae. Your vertebrae have discs between them to cushion the space between the bones, which allows you to move without the bones rubbing against each other.
Sitting for much of the day compresses your spinal cord, placing sustained pressure on the discs, muscles, and ligaments supporting your spine. The constant pressure may result in chronic back pain.
If you sit with poor posture, your back pain can become worse. Slouching over a computer or cell phone places excess stress on your spinal discs and strains the ligaments in your spine.
Proper sitting posture is critical for those who work at desks during the day. Purchasing an ergonomic chair is an excellent investment in your back health.
Correct posture when working at the computer
To ensure you’re positioned correctly when working while sitting down, there are several things you should do.
Your elbows should be at a 90-degree angle with your hands flat on the keyboard. The upper part of your arms should be positioned parallel to your spine.
Your bottom should be against the back of the chair. Place a lumbar cushion at the back of the chair and place your body upright against the cushion. This pillow helps support your back while you’re sitting. Use lumbar pillows on other chairs where you sit for long periods watching TV or playing games.
Place your armrest so that your lower arms can rest against it, which reduces some of the strain on your shoulders and neck.
Your eyes should always look directly at the center of the computer screen. Your neck shouldn’t be raised or lowered.
How much should you be on the move?
Even if you sit a lot during the day, physical activity can help alleviate your back pain. A minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity every week is recommended. This includes walking at a brisk pace, dancing, playing a sport, and yoga. Those who are engaged in physical activity while they work, such as postal carriers, may already move enough.
However, many workers sit at desks most of the day, increasing their risk of chronic back pain. Studies show that only 5 percent of Americans get 30 minutes of physical exercise daily, which could be as simple as taking a walk in the neighborhood.
Research indicates that if you double the amount of moderate-intensity aerobic activity to 300 minutes a week, or increase the 150 minutes to vigorous intensity activity, you’ll increase health benefits. In addition to aerobic activity, you should engage in resistance exercises such as weight-lifting at least two days during the week. Both of these can help you shed extra pounds, strengthen your core muscles, and keep back pain at bay.
If changing your posture and physical activity habits doesn’t help with your back pain, we provide treatment that can. To get relief for your chronic musculoskeletal pain, visit Dr. Andrew Leitzke and the team at one of our locations in Wilmington, Newark, Middletown or Lewes. You can also call Pro Rehab Chiropractic and Rehabilitation or book an appointment through the online portal.