Did you know that humans were never meant to sit on chairs? Our bodies were designed to be on the move, running or hunting, and only lying down when we need to rest. It’s no wonder we get back aches from sitting for too long.
Most of us have no choice as our work or studies require us to be in front of a laptop for at least 8 hours a day. (I feel your pain!) While I can’t help to lessen your workload, here are five solutions to avoid getting back aches.
Make an effort to get out of your seat at least once every hour to reset your spine’s natural curve and stop back aches. Do this by placing your hands on your lower back and bending backwards as far as you can for 2-3 times. If you have trouble remembering when to take a stretch, consider downloading this Google Chrome add-on that reminds you to stand up every hour. You’ll get to choose from intervals of 15 min to every hour.
An inconspicuous solution that you can use anytime and anywhere, BackHeat is a non-medicated patch that uses heat therapy to help soothe your back aches and pains. This means that the heat patch is completely odourless and will cause no side effects, making it perfect for you to use even in the middle of your work day. If you can’t afford hourly stretches, consider getting BackHeat for fast pain relief!
1. Correct your posture
While sitting for long periods can cause back aches, sitting in a bad posture can make things worse. Find out the perfect position for you to rest comfortably in your office chair by following the guidelines provided by Momentum Physical Therapy:
Using your elbows
Find a comfortable position that allows you to sit as close as you can to your desk with your spine being parallel to your upper arms. When you place your hands on the desk, your elbows should be at a right angle (90 degrees). If it is not, raise or lower the height of your chair accordingly!
Using your thighs
Test to see if you can slide your finger with ease between the edge of chair and your thighs. If it’s too tight for you to do so, find an adjustable footrest to elevate your feet. If there is too much space between the chair and your thighs (i.e. more than your finger’s width), raise the height of your table so that you can raise your chair accordingly!
Using your calves
Next, place a clenched fist in between the chair and the back of your calf while still sitting down. If you have difficulties doing so, consider adjusting the backrest forward and even getting a new office chair to get the optimum angle for your back.
Get a lower back support
A firm cushion or other forms of lumbar support would help to ensure that your lower back is constantly at a slight arch such that you do not slouch, while at the same time minimising the load on your back.
Adjust your armrest
The perfect height for your armrest should be at a level that touches your elbows enough to just slightly lift your arms. This helps prevent back aches as well as neck & shoulder pains.
BONUS: Resting eye level
While this doesn’t target the back aches you get from sitting too long, ensuring that your eyes are aimed at the center of your laptop screen minimises neck strain.
If you can’t adjust your workstation area based on the tips shared above (e.g. the height of the table and your chair’s armrest aren’t adjustable), consider strengthening your back instead! Assume the planking position for 15 seconds (this is considered 1 set) and do 5 sets in total. If you are new to planking and aren’t used to this position, feel free to try planking with your knees down for a start
3. Standing desk
If you find yourself spending hours working at home, perhaps a standing desk might be a worthy investment to stop your back aches. This one from AIBI not only allows you to do your work in a standing position, it also lets you work out while working. (Talk about killing two birds with one stone!)
Here’s hoping that with these solutions, you can say goodbye to back pain from sitting for long hours! If you find yourself suffering from back pain because of other reasons, find out 5 ways you can treat back pain fast when you’re at home here.
Jia Qi Chua
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