Humans are meant to be active, we have legs for walking and running and we have arms for climbing and lifting, but the average person spends approximately 55% of their waking hours sitting, according to a study carried out by Vanderbilt University.
Sitting is fine because we can’t be running or walking all the time but sitting is a relatively new activity that started when chairs were invented, and sadly we have become used to it, spending many hours sitting in our cars, office chairs and at home relaxing.
But not everyone sits as we know it, around the world you see traditional cultures that adopt an ‘Asian squat’ to carry out everyday tasks, such as eating, reading, doing the laundry and talking on the phone. This stance is often adopted by people young and old in certain countries and they report little to no back problems because of it!
It would be a bit strange if we all started adopting the Asian squat whilst at work or at restaurants, but it does highlight the gap between our sitting cultures. Office workers tend to complain more about bad backs, suggesting that the problem or cause of back pain lies with our tendency to sit for long periods of time.
It would be slightly inaccurate to suggest that the cause of bad backs is because we sit and don’t squat; given that there are so many other factors at play. We wanted therefore to set the stage for the rest of this blog and keep in mind that movement and being active will help us alleviate our back problems.
So, let’s look in to 7 causes of Back Pain
1. Prolonged sitting
It should not come as any surprise that prolonged sitting down can lead to poor circulation, often with a feeling of tightness in the back, hips, or joints when you get up from your chair.
Public Health England recommends that British workers should spend between two and four hours per day standing to prevent excess strain on your spine from sitting too long.
You might ask how this is possible when your job role requires you to spend even half of your day seated at a fixed workstation? A solution would be to use a sit-stand desk such as the Rapid Mini desk which is a smaller style height adjustable desk, suitable for the home as well as the office.
2. Pulled Muscles or Injuries
Back pain from a pulled muscle can often cause a flare up of tightness or spasms, and simply sleeping heavily in an awkward position could be the reason. A number of other factors could also be the culprits; such as lifting heavy boxes or working out in the gym a little too strenuously. When working out it is important to wear the correct shoe or use the right equipment to avoid unnecessary injuries.
3. Uncomfortable office chair
Back pain can be down to lack of adequate lumbar support in the back of your office chair. The key thing about lumbar support is that it is intentionally designed to preserve the natural shape of your back which in turn protects from possible injuries.
The correct lumbar support will provide more comfort and could be retro fitted in cushion form utilising breathable fabrics, avoiding any heat or perspiration whilst seated. Simple adjustments to your ergonomic office chair with a built-in lumbar support will make a big difference to how you sit.
Most ergonomic chairs will have a lever or hand pump underneath the chair seat which controls the lumbar support. We have a selection of suitable chairs such as The Chiro and Orthopaedica 100 chair which could alleviate or help to prevent possible future back pain.
4. Medical Conditions
Certain other serious conditions may be responsible for back pain, including Arthritis, Osteoporosis, Fibromyalgia, Sacroiliac joint dysfunction and herniated or ruptured discs are some examples to note.
It is always best to seek medical assistance if these types of chronic inflammations are causing you real distress, your doctor or osteopath may even recommend an ergonomic chair.
We are all guilty of slouching whilst at our workstations and forgetting to keep our postures in check, particularly when concentrating on a busy project. However, good posture is essential to our physical health and helps to prevent back pain. A variety of reasons can lead to postural complaints, from over-use of computer equipment and mobile phone (tech neck) to lack of exercise, long periods of time spent driving or of course inappropriate or poor seating.
6. Stress, Depression and Anxiety
Poor mental health can seriously affect your physical well-being; attributing to back pain, respiratory and digestive issues and even skin conditions. Inevitably we will all face times in our lives when we may have to deal with difficult and stressful situations. Tension and stress often builds up in our bodies which can lead to a major risk factor for lower back pain. Taking time out from a busy life to protect your mental health is essential. Exercise and relaxation are key, such as Mindfulness or Yoga or treating yourself to some aromatherapy massage treatment.
7. Being overweight
If at all possible, it’s important to keep your weight under control for back pain prevention. You’re more likely to suffer from low back pain if you are overweight or quickly gain a significant amount of weight. By carrying extra pounds in the mid-section, your centre of gravity is pushed forward and puts additional strain on your back muscles. In summary, exercise and a healthy diet can prevent you from experiencing unnecessary back pain.
Every-day life puts us all under differing pressures both physically and mentally. If we can make positive changes to our working environment by providing ergonomic furniture to avoid the discomfort of back pain, we will have better wellbeing and good long-term health overall.
We can help to manage your office chair requirements if you are suffering with a bad back, whether working in the office or from home.