Are you a desk warrior who has started feeling discomfort in your lower back?
If you sit at a desk for a decent chunk of time, it is not surprising that your lower back might start to feel stiff or sore.
Over time, if you spend large amount of time in one position your body begins to adapt to those positions and muscles will begin to tighten.
Whilst the best thing to do if you get back pain at work is to get up and move around, we appreciate that this is not always possible. So here are 4 simple stretches you can do without getting out of your chair.
1. Seated hamstring stretch
Even if you have ‘always had tight hamstrings’ doesn’t mean you can’t do something to help them relax and release tension. As your hamstrings attach to the pelvis they play an important role in the angle of the pelvis and lumbar spine. Working long hours at a desk means your hamstrings stay in a shortened position for hours at a time, which can cause shortening. Here is a quick stretch you can try at your desk:
Place your right leg out straight, slowly bring your trunk forward till you feel a stretch down the back of your right thigh. It is important that you bend at the hip instead of just bending your back, this will create a better stretch and reduce risk of injury during the stretch. Hold this stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
2. Hip stretch
The hip can also tighten up as a result of excessive sitting. So loosening up those hip muscles is also important. Place the left ankle over the right knee whilst sitting at your desk, using your left arm slowly place pressure on your left knee, pushing down till you feel a stretch deep in your hip. Don’t worry if your leg is a lot higher than that of the photo below – I bet she does yoga :) If you want to add to the stretch then tilt your trunk forwards leaning at the hips. Again hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
3. Seated trunk rotation
If the chair you sit on has arm rests then this stretch is definitely one to add to the routine. For this stretch keep your legs facing forwards, slowly turn your trunk to the side then using your arms give a gentle pull to increase the stretch. To enhance the stretch begin by breathing in, then on your exhale try to stretch a little further. For this stretch it is important that you don’t bounce or pull too excessively with the arms, as the purpose is to relieve muscle pain and not cause it. Hold for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
4. Pelvic tilting
Whilst this may not be a stretch, it is my favourite exercise to help office based warriors with lower back pain. For this exercise I want you to think of your hips as a big bowl of water, the aim will be to tip water out the front, and then out the back. Trying to keep the upper body straight, tilt at your hips forward and then back (as though you are slumping back in your chair). This exercise will feel a little awkward at first but over time the movement should increase and become smother. Do 10 repetitions every hour.
Even for a start, why not try doing these stretches once per day? I am confident that it will start to help alleviate some of the tension that can build up. We also encourage getting up regularly and taking as many breaks from sitting as you can. Your lower back will love you for it!
If these simple stretches don't seem to be hitting the spot, perhaps check out our previous blog on looking at your workstation. Great ergonomics can also help reduce the likelihood of developing back pain at work.
Alternatively, ask us a question below or reach out to your local physiotherapist who can assess you and your lower back more thoroughly!