Reduce your back pain when telecommuting
his article is for readers who want to learn more about the prevention and treatment of back pain. In this period of pandemic, teleworking is becoming mandatory for a large majority of people. In physiotherapy, we treat patients who present with pain in the neck, back, shoulders, forearms and hands that may be associated with working at home and lack of physical activity.
I offer you some movements and ideas to help prevent certain stiffness and back pain. Be aware that there are also posture exercises that can help you.
First, it is often recommended to put a small lumbar support (such as a rolled up towel) on the lower back to maintain the natural curvature of the spine when sitting down. In this position, the compression on the discs in the lower back is greater than in the standing posture.
Maintaining lumbar lordosis (hollow in the lower back) can help relieve pressure in the lower back:
The spine is made up of 7 cervical vertebrae (at the neck), 12 dorsal or thoracic vertebrae (upper back), 5 lumbar vertebrae (lower back), 5 fused sacral vertebrae (sacrum) and then the coccyx.
The spine has several functions such as protecting the spinal cord, supporting the body and organs, absorbing shock, allowing movement, etc. A healthy back must be stable and mobile.
The exercises are proven to be effective in treating and preventing back problems:
Here is a cat back exercise that I recommend for some patients. It is about moving the spine towards flexion and extension. This movement should relieve and not create or worsen the pain!
Learn to move your pelvis:
Here is a movement of motor control and mobility which consists of an alternation of anterior and posterior rockers of the pelvis standing against the wall. You can add some music by doing this move!
A 2018 study found that people who sit for more than 7 hours a day and exercise less than 150 minutes per week have more frequent loss of mobility (loss of range of motion) in the spine. thoracic (upper back). This tells me that people who telecommute a lot and move less are more likely to have a stiffer spine! The thoracic spine (upper back) should be flexible especially in rotation, lateral flexion and extension.
This thoracic extension exercise (upper back) can help give flexibility in the back, to optimize posture and to reduce certain pains in the neck, lower back and shoulders.
Did you know that running can strengthen the intervertebral discs (the cushions between the vertebrae)?
If you are only available in the evening to move around, given the curfew from 10 p.m., a little running on the spot at home can be good!
Alternatively, you can do a bit of on-site running at home during a break from telecommuting or just jog outside. Walking can also be a great ally!
Dear readers, if you have back pain and / or neck pain, please visit my site for more information. As health professionals, I can help you reduce your pain. Here are some techniques from our toolkit that may also help:
Joint sliding to reduce certain headaches and neck aches
Lumbar pulls to reduce tension in the lower back
I want to remind you not to try the exercises in this article, especially if you have pain and / or a medical condition. Each condition is different and requires a thorough evaluation by a healthcare professional in order to have treatments and exercises specific to your condition. Treatment or exercise may be great for one person, but it may harm another. Make sure you have adequate supervision and excellent support.
Kwon Y, Kim JW, Heo JH, Jeon HM, Choi EB, Eom GM. The effect of sitting posture on the loads at cervico-thoracic and lumbosacral joints. Technol Health Care. 2018;26(S:409-418. doi:10.3233/THC-174717
Belavy, Daniel & Quittner, Matthew & Ridgers, Nicola & Ling, Yuan & Connell, David & Rantalainen, Timo. (2017). Running exercise strengthens the intervertebral disc. Scientific Reports. 7. 45975. 10.1038/srep45975.
“9 for Spine” Member Survey, North American Spine Society, 2012
Bhadauria EA, Gurudut P. Comparative effectiveness of lumbar stabilization, dynamic strengthening, and Pilates on chronic low back pain: randomized clinical trial. J Exerc Rehabil. 2017 Aug 29;13(:477-485. doi: 10.12965/jer.1734972.486. PMID: 29114516; PMCID: PMC5667628.
Heneghan NR, Baker G, Thomas K, Falla D, Rushton A. What is the effect of prolonged sitting and physical activity on thoracic spine mobility? An observational study of young adults in a UK university setting. BMJ Open. 2018 May 5;8(5):e019371. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-019371. PMID: 29730619; PMCID: PMC5942425.