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Why Does My Back Hurt When I Sit In My Office Chair?

Why Does My Back Hurt When I Sit In My Office Chair?

Anyone who works in an office environment knows how easy it is to spend hours sitting at your desk without getting up to stretch occasionally.

Even if you have modern ergonomic office furniture, you must change your position regularly if you don’t want to visit your doctor to ask “Why does my back hurt when I sit in my office chair?”

One of the most important factors to consider when spending hours in your office chair is your posture.

It’s easy to slouch or perch with one hand on your chin as you concentrate on what you are typing.

Can Office Chairs Cause Back Pain?

Long hours in the office

Sitting in one position for hours at a time is not good for your physical or mental health.

Not moving from your office chair for lengthy periods can cause extreme back pain.

This may start with a general ache and stiffness, which if ignored, may deteriorate and eventually cause permanent damage to your spinal discs.

What Are the Effects of Sitting Too Long?

Slouching in your chair rather than sitting up straight may cause the ligaments in your spine to become overstretched.

This can result in health issues which may affect your overall mobility, such as

Spasm

Heat pad for spasm

Your back may go into spasm, which can last from seconds to days.

It may be possible for you to self-treat the symptoms with an ice-pack to reduce inflammation.

Following that, a heat pad may be used to relieve aching muscles.

You could take over the counter medication for the pain, but if this persists, you should see your doctor without further delay.

Sciatica

Sciatica

If you experience a sharp, shooting pain down one leg, you may have sciatica, which is caused by pressure on the spinal nerve.

This can be treated with over the counter anti-inflammatory or muscle relaxant medication.

You should avoid strenuous exercise such as high-impact sports, cycling, extensive stretching and any exercise which involves lifting weights.

Herniated Disk

Herniated disk

If your feet are numb or tingling, or feel weak, you may have a herniated (slipped) disk, which usually occurs in the lower back.

This can be extremely painful but can be treated with medication, physiotherapy, or surgery in severe cases.

Guidelines To Reduce Back Pain

Even if your office chair is comfortable, you should get into the habit of getting up and walking around or stretching at least every half hour.

This will keep your blood flowing and your muscles, tendons, and ligaments healthy, and it is far less likely that you will experience back pain while sitting in your office chair.

You will quickly feel the physical benefits if you follow these simple guidelines:

Posture

Good posture in the office

 

It’s important that you sit with your back straight against the back of your chair in order to keep the pelvic bones aligned.

If your hips and pelvis are out of alignment, this can cause pain in your lower back.

Your office chair may have a cushion or padded section which bulges outwards, so that  your spine remains slightly arched.

Your whole body needs to be aligned properly to prevent stress and pain on other parts of your body such as your shoulders and wrists.

To prevent back pain, your feet should sit flat on the floor with your knees slightly lower than your hips: try not to sit with your legs crossed as this restricts blood flow. .

Your upper and lower arms should rest comfortably at a 900 angle and you should be able to reach your keyboard without stretching.

Ergonomic Chair

Office Chair Ergonomic Desk Chair

Click image for more info

Using an ergonomic chair can help to reduce back pain, as it is designed to accommodate the natural curvature of the spine, as well as good posture for your neck and limbs.

Make sure that all angles are adjusted to suit your body shape and height, including:

  • The seat height and angle
  • The armrests allow your upper and lower arms to sit at 900
  •  Being able to swivel your chair to reach objects rather than bending at the waist

Why Does My Back Hurt When I Sit In A Chair?

If you are permanently uncomfortable or in pain while sitting in your office chair, there is probably one major cause: your posture.

As you age, your muscles begin to weaken, even if you have an active lifestyle.

If you lead a generally sedentary lifestyle, you will probably experience muscle loss faster and with more severe consequences.

Years of bad posture can aggravate this.

Bad posture

Besides causing back pain, this may contribute to other symptoms including:

  • Headaches
  • Potbelly
  • Round shoulders
  • General fatigue

Sitting for extended periods can cause your hamstring muscles to tighten, which can result in lower back pain.

Conversely, lower back pain can cause the hamstrings to tighten.

The upside is that posture can easily become a good habit.

Test your standing posture by hanging an imaginary plumbline hanging from your earlobe, then through your shoulder, your hip, your knee, and ending in the middle of your ankle.

This make-believe line should hang completely straight.

How Do I Stop My Office Chair From Hurting My Back?

Humans are nor meant to spend hours sitting in one position, but that is what tends to happen when you have an office job.

If you sit slouched backwards, or perched on the front of your seat, your spine and back muscles will not be supported properly, and you may experience continual backache or spasms.

What can you do to stop the pain?

Keep Moving

Chatting with colleagues

It’s imperative that you get up and out of your office chair at least every 30-60 minutes.

Chat to a colleague, stand while you take a phone call, or do a few simple stretches.

Apart from being good for you in other ways, it may help if you drink a lot of water as you could need frequent bathroom breaks.

Regular Exercise

Following a regular exercise routine will keep your body lithe and healthy and you will be less likely to have back pain when you sit.

You need not run marathons: elementary yoga or Pilates exercises, or walking daily will do the trick.

Your Desk

Sitting in the desk

The height of your desk is as important as the comfort of your chair.

Your wrists should be straight and your shoulders relaxed, and your keyboard or mouse should be within immediate reach.

Your Chair

Ergonomic chairs are the first prize, but if you don’t have one, try rolling up a small towel or placing a cushion between your lower back and the chairback.

This will keep your spine in a comfortable position, as well as keeping the rest of your body properly aligned.

Are There Alternatives To An Office Chair?

Ergonomic furniture has become popular and readily available as we realize their health benefits.

Standing Chair or Standing Desk

Both a standing chair and standing desk are height adjustable, meaning you can stand or sit for as long as you are comfortable.

It’s a good idea to set a timer to remind you when to move or change position, at least every half hour.

Balance Ball

Gaiam Classic Balance Ball Chair

Click image for more info

The balance ball chair is ideal to improve the strength of your core muscles, which help in shaping stronger back muscles.

When you’re not at your desk, the ball can double up as an exercise tool.

Kneeling Chair

DRAGONN by VIVO Ergonomic Kneeling Chair

Click image for more info

This may look uncomfortable, but the weight distribution on your shins in a kneeling chair can be beneficial.

Your glutes, which are the muscles found in your hips and butt, stay long and loose, which can help your back and shoulders stay in shape.

This posture can help with breathing and improved digestion and a more even weight distribution.

Desk Bicycle

Pooboo Exercise Bike Desk Cycle

Click image for more info

Have you always wanted to achieve two things at once? This is your chance to do so.

You may find it difficult to type and pedal, especially if the tension is on a higher setting, but you could browse your emails and social media accounts quite happily.

The contraption sits under your desk, so you’ll have to find the right position where you can see your screen and reach the pedals.

The benefits are that you can exercise while you’re reading that vital report. It may not burn as many calories as you hope, but it could be effective to keep your blood flowing.

Conclusion

Advices for your back

Experiencing back pain while sitting in your office chair may be an indication of serious underlying conditions.

These should not be ignored — your body knows when to tell you that something is not right.

The first thing is to be aware of your posture.

Secondly, get into the habit of changing your position regularly by moving and walking around.

Lastly, stop other bad habits even out of the office: smoking, eating too many sweet or salty snacks, having that ‘one for the road’ drink, and living a generally sedentary lifestyle.

Your back is your mainstay: think of a yacht’s mast. It is that solid structure that determines the overall health of the vessel.

Your spine and the muscles that support it need care and attention to stay healthy, so that when you reach your golden years you can remain active and mobile.