Why sitting all day causes back pain

“The typical office worker may spend up to a whopping 15 hours per day sitting. On the other hand, agricultural workers only sit for about 3 hours a day”- Healthline

If you work a 9 to 5 office job 5 days a week, you’ll probably know how hard it is to find the time and energy for a workout routine. Exercise and activity are recommended if you spend a large portion of your time sitting behind a screen. So why not find a way to put some deskercise into your day?

The negative effects of sitting all day

The NHS recommend that adults aged 19-64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity a week.

Prolonged sitting can cause back pain, especially if you’re sitting incorrectly, but that’s not all.

A study by The American journal of preventive medicine found that higher levels of total daily sitting time are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes as well as:

  • Poor posture
  • Low mood
  • Chronic pain

What can you do to prevent a bad back?

If you’re suffering from extreme back pain, it’s best not to push yourself. But sometimes a little exercise could be exactly what your body needs.

Physiotherapist Lyndsay Hirst creator of Your Pilates Physio says “Move! Movement is key to ensuring we keep back pain at bay, maintain muscle strength, joint flexibility, and mobility. Try to move your back in all directions, especially if you spend lots of time sitting. Try to vary your activity to allow your body to move in different ways.”

Why is exercising with a bad back beneficial?

Lyndsay says “Our bodies are designed to move. When someone presents to me in my clinic with back pain, they have often become fearful of moving which causes more problems. We need to make sure when we have back pain that we are moving the joints and keeping the muscles strong. Our muscles can become inhibited and weaken with back pain, which may contribute to future episodes of pain.”

Exercises suitable for a bad back

Physiotherapist Nell Mead has a series on her YouTube channel called ‘Deskercises’. The series is split into four playlists and altogether there are thirty-two short videos. In the videos, she demonstrates different exercises that would be beneficial for someone suffering from a bad back or any aches and pains caused by sitting down all day.

Three ways to sneak in some exercise, even when you’re desk bound

1. Walk or cycle to work

If you commute to work by vehicle or public transport but you’re able to get there by foot or bike, why not give it a go. There are many benefits to walking to work. It’s great for your body, mental health and could help to prevent back pain.

2. Take a walk on your breaks/take frequent breaks

Give yourself lots of breaks throughout the day. When you notice you’re starting to fidget or feel uncomfortable, get up and move around, even if it’s going to the toilet or making a cup of coffee. Instead of sitting on your phone scrolling endlessly on your breaks, go for a short walk. If you have time on your lunch break, go pick up some lunch at a local café or shop or go for a brisk walk around the block – try timing yourself, see if you can beat the clock the following day!

3. Consider a standing desk

Another great way to get you off your bum in the office is a standing desk. A study found that sit to stand workstations led to lower levels of discomfort and in some cases boosted the productivity of workers If you’d like to find out more about sit to stand workstations, take a look at our blog post on standing desks.

What else can you do to help back pain?

· Improve your posture

One of the biggest causes of back pain from sitting down all day is poor posture. When sitting down all day It’s easy to slouch in your chair, especially if you’re not used to having the correct posture. Some things we would advise to help improve your posture:

· Make sure your workstation is set up correctly

Whether you’re working at home or in the office, your workstation must be set up correctly otherwise it could be one of the reasons you suffer from back pain.

If you’re not sure if your workstation is set up correctly, complete a DSE assessment. This will tell you exactly what the issues are, all you have to do is make the changes.

A 99p DSE assessment can be taken online, so you can assess your workstation at home or in the office.

If you’d like some more advice on how to correctly set up your workstation or reduce back pain, please contact us by email at enquiries@posturepeople.co.uk or phone 0330 332 0880.

Do you need some advice about your workplace?

Get in touch and one of our team would be happy to help answer your questions.

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