Tips for Long Term Sitting

A long term sitting position can be problematic for low back pain sufferers. Sitting places a 50% greater load on the spine than standing does. These are some great ideas on how to improve your sitting posture and decrease the overall stress your low back experiences throughout a day.

1. When possible, choose a chair that provides lumbar (low back) support. If your chair does not have lumbar support, consider supplementing that area with a small pillow, towel roll, or lumbar pad.
2. Be as active as possible at work, take multiple breaks throughout the day to get up and walk around if possible. Try to keeps your hips are higher or at least even with your knees with your feet firmly on the floor, this promotes a good low back curvature while taking stress off of your lumbar spine as well.

When you’re at a desk/computer

1. Bend elbows at 90 degrees, with your forearms parallel to the floor make sure you’re not reaching forward. Wrists should meet the keyboard in a neutral spot, not bent up or down.
2. Sit close enough to your monitor so that it is at arm’s length, with the top third of the monitor even with your line of sight when in good neck posture.
3. If on the phone most of the day, obtain a Bluetooth or headset to decrease stress on your neck or compensatory habits that could cause a repetitive stress injury.

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Muscle Soreness

Muscle soreness is a normal reaction to exercise or physical activity in which muscle soreness develops within 12- 48 hours after a strenuous activity. The soreness is believed to be a result of micro tears in the muscle fibers and associated swelling response. This response is a part of the adaptation process, which allows the muscle to have more stamina and strength as it re-builds from the exercise load placed upon it.

It is important to realize that muscle soreness does not mean that there is a muscle injury! Soreness typically disappears within 48-72 hours and is much less intense the more frequent the exercise routine is performed.

Symptoms have been shown to be less intense in some individuals that follow this advice:

Warm Up: Start with a few stretches targeting the area of the body you will be working. For example: Playing Tennis? Stretch legs, back and arms. Going Biking? Stretch legs and lower back. Also do some “dynamic stretches” which mimic the movements you’re about to do. For example: If you are going jogging, start by walking briskly for a few minutes.

Cool Down: Slow down the activity you are doing for the last few minutes. Don’t just sit or lie down but continue to move by walking around a little. Don’t forget to stretch! Stretching will help loosen up the muscles you just worked out, and help you get ready for your next workout.

Ice Exercising naturally causes an inflammation response. Ice will decrease the temperature in the area and help decrease the inflammation. Icing 10-20 minutes is plenty, and it can be done as needed throughout the day.

Massage A massage therapist can help work the toxins out of the sore muscles and help them to relax. A DIY is a tennis ball between the wall and your sore muscles. You can apply as much pressure as you’d like to work out the soreness. Should not put so much pressure as to increase pain but relieves tension.

Don’t Stop Moving! If the pain isn’t too bad do some light exercise, you can work the same muscles just use lighter weights, less reps, or less intensity. Sitting or lying down for too long will just cause the sore muscles to stiffen up even more.

Abdominal Belts during Functional Lifting

Many people who perform heavy lifting at work choose to wear abdominal belts or braces to support their backs in an effort to prevent injury. This may inspire others to wear these belts while they are lifting in their everyday lives. These belts can be prescribed after surgery or other procedures and it is always advised to follow your doctor’s orders.

However, for people who are looking to protect their backs during lifting, use of an abdominal belt can be counterproductive because it can inhibit engagement of the core muscles that are the most effective in stabilizing the spine and preventing low back pain. Unless otherwise prescribed, one can successfully prevent low back pain and injury through targeting core strengthening and using proper lifting mechanics without use of an abdominal belt.

To engage your lower abdominal muscles, pull your belly button in and up toward your spine while lifting. This will help to stabilize your pelvis and spine, thus preventing injury. You can strengthen all of your core muscles by performing core stabilization exercises 3x/week (not discussed in this issue).

There are several lifting techniques which utilize good body mechanics that you can use:
The Power Lift: Bend at your hips and knees, not your spine, and keep your chest up. This helps to ensure that you don’t bend at your spine.
The Deep Squat: Bend only your knees into a full squat. You must have good knees and strong legs to perform this lift!
The One Knee Lift: Kneel down onto one knee, then lift the load and place onto the raised leg before standing.
Just remember to always maintain a neutral spine (slight inward curve in your low back) whenever you’re lifting, pushing or pulling; and only bend your legs, NOT your spine!