As we move through these unprecedented times, we’re faced with new issues every day. These teething problems may include installing a hand-wash timer in the bathroom, packing the dishwasher more often, or planning meals further in advance than you normally would. One other problem that may not have caught your attention yet is back health. Working from home, and spending so much more time on the sofa or in bed, can wreak havoc on your back in the long term. It’s absolutely vital that you take care of your back and prevent low back pain from taking hold of your life. Luckily, we’re here to help. Take a look at some of these helpful tips to stave off low back pain and keep you fit and healthy as you tackle the other, non-physical issues around you.
Posture and Low Back Support
Low back health relies heavily upon the correct posture and low back support you employ throughout the day. Posture may not be something you think about consciously, but it’s very important to start taking notice of the way you sit, stand, lie down, and relax on the sofa: the little things can make all the difference. Make sure you don’t slouch; keep you chin up and your shoulders aligned. Also, be aware of the support you give your lower back when you sit: roll up a towel, or use a small cushion to provide extra support in the small of your back. If you do this consistently, you’ll start noticing how much better your lower back responds to daily activity – you’ll mitigate any pain you may have experienced.
Working from home in the COVID-19 era has changed the dynamics of the way we view our desks. Some people have a dedicated desk, while others use the kitchen table or even the coffee table in the living room! Things have changed drastically. At the end of the day, though, it’s incredibly important to make your ‘office’ as ergonomic as possible. In other words, the way you sit, and the chair you sit on, need to be supportive of back health. Make sure your chair is high enough to align the computer with your direct line of site. Make sure your chin doesn’t dip, that you don’t slouch, and that the chair offers you vital low back support. See the above tip regarding small towels or cushions. Your back will thank you!
You may not realize how important strengthening exercises are for the health of your lower back. Even less obvious is that your core muscles are actually vital in keeping your back pain free! Doing core exercises, that is, strengthening your core muscles safely over time, is one of the best ways to stave off low back pain well into the future. Why not try doing some Pilates or yoga routines to start working on your muscle strength? You can also contact a dedicated physical therapist to find out about what sort of exercises would benefit you the most.
As I’ve mentioned, your office space setup is very important. If you’re working from a desktop, make sure your screen is high up enough to be aligned with your direct eye-line. Do not dip your chin or slouch. Make sure you have lower back support and always sit with your feet squarely on the ground, with your knees at a 90 or 100 degree angle. Do not lean forward – make sure the screen is close/far enough for you. If you’re working on a laptop, make sure you place it on a table and are able to follow the same tips outlined for a desktop set-up. Working with a laptop on your lap means you may slouch and place pressure on your shoulders and low back – be sure to sit up straight in order to have a productive, pain free day.
Give yourself well deserved breaks: get up, stretch, move around, and get yourself out in the open air. Ideally, you want to stay at your computer for no longer than 50 minutes at a time – it’s very important to stay mobile throughout the day in order to avoid your lower back muscles from stiffening and seizing. Make the effort to get moving!
Stretching your muscles keeps them lubricated and supple, thereby allowing you to have pain free days! It’s very important that you spend time stretching your lower back muscles throughout the day, especially if you spend the majority of it at a desk. Contact a professional physical therapist for advice on where to begin and how to get into the swing of your very own stretching routine.
Last, but certainly not least, is staying hydrated. Not drinking enough water can not only lead to muscle fatigue, but can actually hamper your overall cognition and health, too. Aim to drink at least 8, 8oz glasses of water a day, and make sure you incorporate some movement when you sip away!
Low back pain can be tricky to understand, and during these times it’s very difficult to know what to do and what not to do in order to stay away from it. Luckily, we’re here to help. Physical therapy is the safest, easiest, and most effective way of not only treating back pain, but of making sure you avoid it in the future. If you’re unsure about the types of stretches you need to be doing, what physical activities would best benefit your back health, how to set up your work space, or even about where to start with any of the tips in this post, then we invite you contact one of our dedicated, hands-on physical therapists rights now. For advice you can trust, and information that will help you on the road to a healthier, pain-free life, physical therapy is the answer. Why not contact us to book a complimentary, non-obligatory discovery visit, right now? We look forward to hearing from you soon!