Back pain can come in many forms. It can include lower back pain, middle back pain, upper back pain, and can also involve the sciatic nerve. Back pain can be dull and achy, a constant nagging reminder that something may not be right. It can also feel sharp, only presenting itself with certain movements.
There are many factors that can result in back pain. In your back, there are bones, muscles, and nerves that all work together. Our backs and spines must be sturdy enough to give support, yet flexible enough for movement. When something goes awry, it can be with any of these components. Discs can degenerate, nerves can be impinged, and joints can develop arthritis.
When it comes to work-related back pain, much of it arises from poor ergonomics, bad posture, and sitting for too long. You may have even heard the news reporting that “sitting is the new smoking”. While it may not be that dramatic, the truth is that there are many issues that arise from sitting for too long, which tends to be a result of long work days for many back pain sufferers.
Better Sitting for Back Pain Sufferers
In many workplaces, getting things done revolves around putting in some time at your workstation. In most cases, this involves extended periods of sitting. This can put increased pressure on the structures of your spine – the vertebrae, discs, joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons. With the understanding that it isn’t possible to avoid sitting entirely, there are some things you can try in order to take better care of your back and body:
- Choose your chair wisely. Most office work requires long, consistent hours of sitting. To encourage good posture, choosing a chair that has multiple adjustment features is key. Chairs should easily adjust for height as well as seat tilt. Chairs with armrests should have additional adjustability features. Additionally, choosing a chair with the right amount of lumbar (low back) support is important. A good sitting position should place your thighs parallel with the floor, creating a straight line from your knees to your hips. Your feet should rest comfortably on the floor. If they don’t a foot rest might be appropriate.
- Sit on an exercise ball. Sitting on an exercise ball engages muscles in your body that would ordinarily be relaxed when sitting in a regular chair. Sitting on a ball also makes it more difficult to slouch since you need to be somewhat active in order to balance. This may take some getting used to at first – the exercise ball will not seem as comfortable as your regular chair. Even if you alternate between sitting on a ball and sitting in your office chair, you will still reap the benefits.
- Set a timer. At the very least, you should stand up and stretch once an hour. You can use a timer on your phone or computer, or even a good old-fashioned egg timer will do. Even if you are maintaining good sitting posture, taking regular breaks from sitting is important in the prevention of back pain.
- Try a standing or sit-to-stand desk. Work stations can be set up so that you can alternate between periods of sitting and standing. The ability to shift positions throughout the day can eliminate the potential for some repetitive motion injuries that can affect those whose jobs require a lot of screen time. One word of caution would be that if you’re used to sitting all day, take some time to transition into your new workstation setup. It might be wise to start with 30-60 minutes of standing per day and increase it as your body adapts.
Eliminating Back Pain by Attacking Its Cause
Back pain can be a complicated issue to address. The pain can have many origins, which can make treatment difficult and relief elusive. It was recently confirmed that back pain sufferers who turned to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen achieved little to no relief, all while exposing them to the risks of side effects. Because of this, many back pain sufferers are looking for natural and effective options for lasting relief. To accomplish this, the root cause of the condition must be addressed.
Upper cervical chiropractic care focuses on eliminating the underlying cause of back pain. It does this not by masking symptoms or only adjusting areas of pain, but by addressing the root of the problem. In many cases, the beginnings of back pain come from a vertebra that sits at the very top of the spine. This vertebra, called your atlas, is the most freely movable one of the entire spinal column. This makes it particularly vulnerable to misaligning, whether from injury or the repetitive wear and tear characteristics of many of our jobs. When the atlas misaligns, you can think of it like the first domino to topple over, causing a chain reaction throughout the rest of the spine.
The atlas bears the weight of our heads. When it is not aligned properly, in order to keep the head upright and level, the rest of the spine is forced to compensate. Many times, this causes the shoulders and hips to become off-level. This creates abnormal muscle tension on one side of the body, and can cause mid- or low-back pain over time. The misalignment also causes irritation to your body’s nervous system, which can not only contribute to the pain and discomfort but also cause other health issues as well.
Upper cervical care has helped many back pain sufferers to achieve relief and return to the quality of life they desire. Whether your goals are to return to playing sports, or to simply be able to sit on the floor to play with your children, upper cervical chiropractic care can help your body to function better.
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