Is Sitting Killing Your Back? A Few Quick Fixes

Do you suffer from low back pain?

Do you have tight hips and hamstrings?

Could your posture be a little bit better?

If you’re like most people, 80% of adults, than you answered ‘yes’ to one if not all three of these questions.

What  about the answers to the following 3 questions?

Do you sit at at a desk either at work or at school for the majority of the day?

Do you spend the majority of your day driving?

Do you spend a number of hours each day at your computer?

If you answered ‘yes’ to the first set of questions I’m guessing you also found a ‘yes’ in the last set of 3 as well.

So what does that mean?

Well it tells us that that hamstring length, posture and hip mobility are all related to the health of our backs specifically the lumbar spine. And it tells us there are probably activities you do during the day which exacerbate the problem.

‘But I drive or work at a desk for a living and can’t just quit doing these things’.

That’s totally understandable. And also not what I’m asking you to do.

Because here’s the thing.

I spend I large part of my day at the computer as well. I write programs. I produce blog posts for two different sites of my own and contribute to many others. And I produce online products.

So what is it that I do differently that prevents me from experiencing the back pain that afflicts so many?

The key is that I change my position. Constantly.

If I start seated at the table I will set a timer to change positions every 20 minutes. As I work in the room off from our kitchen it is very easy to set the timer on the microwave to remind me to change positions.

After being seated for 20 minutes I will change to:

tall kneeling – feet behind me, neutral pelvis, chest tall, shoulders down and back, contracting the glutes

tall kneeling with leg out to the side – a great stretch for the internal hip of the straightened leg

1/2 kneeling – a great stretch for the front of the hip while working the glute of the down knee

standing – allows you to stretch both hamstrings and open up the hips

With all of these positions you want to make sure to use optimal posture. For kneeling this means knees under hips, neutral pelvis, glutes engaged, chest tall and head neutral.

I kneel on an airex pad but you can use any type of cushioning from a towel, an exercise mat or a pillow.

When you first start out with these positions you’ll find it fatiguing and may need to change positions more quickly than 20 minutes.  As well, feel free when in these positions to move around. For example from a tall kneeling position sink the hips back to the heels and then come back up tall again.

Give these positions a try the next time you are stuck at your computer for hours on end. You’ll find you’ll:

* strengthen your glutes

* improve your posture

* improve your back pain

Plus with all of the above benefits you’ll be more focussed, feel less strain and be more productive.

The other cool thing about it is that you can quickly slide the airex under your desk when you have a meeting and sit in your chair again.

If you’re still interested in reading about how sitting is bad for your health check out the following article passed along compliments of Jen C.

http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2010/06/10/sitting-health-physiology.html

Let me know what you think about these tips. If we get 8 or more comments I’ll do a future post on tips for drivers.

Chris                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      okanaganpeakperformance.com ‘always moving forward’

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Comments

comments

17 Responses to Is Sitting Killing Your Back? A Few Quick Fixes

  1. Mike Sanborn says:

    good topic, thanks!

  2. Lorraine Munro says:

    Thank you for the video and tips. Your video is exactly what I needed to see and hear as I’m now retired from a computer job that required hours of sitting. Thus, I have had extremely sore hips and hamstrings for many years. I immediately tried kneeling – thinking I would be too short to type – but if I add the cushion, I will be able to adopt the position. I am definitely going to try it and look forward to your tips regarding driving as I also do a lot of that.

    • Chris says:

      Lorraine: Thanks for your comments. Glad they helped. Stay tuned for the driving tips.

      Chris
      okanaganpeakperformance.com ‘always moving forward’

  3. Gretchen says:

    I sit hours on end and this is exactly what I needed to hear. My hamstrings are really tight and my back is creaky. I like the idea of kneeling. Thanks!

    • Chris says:

      Hi Gretchen: Thanks for your comments. Glad this is what you needed.

      All the best.

      Chris
      okanaganpeakperformance.com ‘always moving forward’

  4. Erva says:

    Good morning Chris
    I wanted to leave a comment and say thanks for the tip on posture. I realized I need a constant reminder to fire the glutes, as this is a weak point that hinders my other sports.
    Thanks still. Erva

    • Chris says:

      Erva: You’re very welcome. We all need reminders from time to time.

      All the best,

      Chris
      okanaganpeakperformance.com ‘always moving forward’

  5. Brent says:

    Good tips, what have you got for airplanes?

    Brent

    • Chris says:

      Hi Brent: I’ve got some tips for travelling which will apply to driving and flying.

      Chris
      okanaganpeakperformance.com ‘always moving forward’

  6. Emily says:

    You wanted comments, so I just wanted to say I really found your video useful. I can’t wait to use that idea for homecare with some of massage my patients! Thanks ttyl

    Emily

    • Chris says:

      Emily: Excellent! That’s exactly the purpose of this blog. To put quality content in the hands of actions takers, such as yourself. And by passing this on to your massage patients you are doing one greater than that!

      Thanks for posting.

      Chris
      okanaganpeakperformance.com ‘always moving forward’

  7. Jim Mck says:

    Great info Chris, very relevant.. got a few sideways glances at the office.. This must be a preventitive measure as well. Cheers

    • Chris says:

      Hi Jim: Why is that as society becomes more lethargic, obese and has poorer posture this is considered ‘normal’? But if you are making efforts to improve your health this is unusual and garners ‘sideways glances’. Doesn’t seem right.

      Keep being the ‘un-normal one’ in the office.

      Chris
      okanaganpeakperformance.com ‘always moving forward’

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  9. Anny says:

    Hey Chris, excellent information – like most, I too sit alot and find that fatigue sets in. A question for you…I drive a standard and in busy traffic times find that the shifting can irritate my lower back alot. Any tips for the foam roller to help offset this? Thanks, Anny.

    • Chris says:

      Hi Anny: Great question. One thing about using the foam roller is to try and target the muscles that are tight from a variety of angles and planes. As well while you are rolling try first with a straight leg then a second time with a bent knee. For example if sitting on the roller and working on the hips and glutes start first with the legs straight then place one foot across the opposite knee and repeat the area just covered.

      Chris
      okanaganpeakperformance.com ‘always moving forward’

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