We’ve all been there: After sitting at your desk for a long period of time, suddenly your back starts to feel sore.
Now imagine if that soreness became pain that you were unable to relieve no matter what you tried.
That’s how chronic, debilitating back pain starts.
Put simply, it’s pain that was ignored until it couldn’t be ignored any longer.
To help avoid chronic back pain, try one of these three simple movements to relieve soreness when it first strikes.
Get out of your chair every 15 minutes. This “break” could simply be standing up at your desk, or getting up and walking around your chair.
Find little ways throughout your day to implement changes in position. For example, every time the phone rings, stand up to take the call. You could also implement walking meetings.
Note that if you’ve had stiffness for a while it might take you a bit longer to get your blood flowing. Make sure you move around or stand and shift your weight back and forth, until you feel your back open up again. Any type of movement that forces a rush of blood to your back will aid in loosening muscles.
Cross your ankle over your knee in a figure 4 position. You should feel gentle stretches in your back, hamstrings, and glutes. When performing a figure 4 stretch, be sure to keep your back straight and hinge forward at the hips. Hold this position for 30 seconds and perform six on each leg.
If you have problems getting into this position — for example, if you have to pull on your pant leg to get your ankle on top of the knee — that is a warning sign of a larger problem that requires help from a physical therapist or physician.
Drop one of your legs underneath your chair. This posture automatically pulls your pelvis forward while relieving some of the stress on your back. All you have to do is push your foot toward the back of your chair. If you’re able to, hook your foot onto the back leg of the chair.
This position is not designed to be used all day, but it’s a great way to adjust your posture if you can’t stand up.
Keep this in mind: The next time you want to plow through your back pain to finish work, remember that you’re actually decreasing your productivity because your brain is focusing on the pain and not the work. So, in giving yourself a chance to stand up, change position, or stretch, you’ll allow yourself to be more productive.
Heather Moore, P.T., D.P.T., is the owner of Total Performance Physical Therapy, a state-of-the-art physical and aquatic therapy center in North Wales, Pa.