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Due to the COVID-19 situation, many of us all over the world are working from home. Working from home entails long hours of sitting at the desk, long hours of calls and online meetings. With that there is an increase in patients coming in with complaints of headaches, neck aches, shoulder strains and lower back pain.
Here we will be sharing 4 simple tips to prevent lower back pain when sitting all day.
1) Avoid Sitting too long
There is a lot more pressure on your lumbar discs when you are sitting compared to standing. In general, stand up and stretch your back every 30 to 60 minutes.
These are 3 simple stretches :
- Feet shoulder width apart, bend down and touch your toes. Keep your knees as straight as possible
- Bring both hands up, tip toe and push up as much as you can and inhale as deeply as possible, then relax yourself and exhale
- Hands on your waist, thumb behind the lumbar muscle at the belt level. Gently thrust your hip forward and press your thumb into the back muscles.
Do about 10-15 times of each movement every hour or so.
You can also try to lie down if you can or from time to time, It is recommended to lie down on the floor with your legs on an elevated platform. This helps to alleviate all the pressure building up in your lumbar area.
2) Stand at your desk if possible
There are many sit to stand tables nowadays that allow for flexible height adjustments. They can also help in reducing back pain.
It is generally suggested to alternate between the standing and sitting position in intervals of an hour, try to keep a good standing posture with your weight distributed evenly on both feet. Head up, shoulder straight and chest forward.
3) Try to keep a good posture when sitting down
- Keep your monitor at eye level or slightly below eye level. This keeps your cervical and lumbar spine at the correct position.
- Good lumbar support. Our lumbar spine has a normal curvature. We can reduce back pain by maintaining that curvature when you are sitting. You can roll up a towel or use a small pillow. Alternatively, you can get an ergonomic chair like APOL with a lumbar pillow. It maintains the lumbar curvature nicely and its really comfortable.
- Keep your elbow at 90 degrees. This is achieved by lowering the table top to your elbow level and the elbow support of your chair to the same level. APOL chairs has armrests that allows for height adjustment to suit different heights. Not many office chairs has this specific function.
- Keep your hip and knees at 90 degrees. Sit all the way to the back of your chair. Allow the knees and hip to achieve the 90-90 position as this is best for the back and hip. Keep both feet flat on the floor. Do not cross your legs as it may cause an unbalanced stress on your lower back. If your legs are shorter, then you can use a stool or a pillow to support your legs. APOL has a feet support so that a 90-90 position can be maintained and still keep feet flat on the pillow.
- The reclined position can be used for temporary relief of stress on your lumbar spine. Its almost like lying down, where the pressure of the entire upper half of your body is reduced on the lumbar spine. This APOL chair has an almost full recline.
4) Strengthen your back
Strengthen the back and core muscles. As mentioned in the previous article, “lower back pain causes and exercises “ when you strengthen your back and core muscles, the support on the spine is very much improved.
Here are some additional exercises to do at home to strengthen your core and back. Some exercises are done with resistance bands, Please view video for further instructions.
By : Dr Chen Yiming
Family Physician, MBBS (Singapore), GDFM (NUS), GDFP Dermatology (NUS)