Despite how many of us spend most of our days sitting, the human body isn’t designed for a ridged or slouched seating position. Over long periods of sitting, our muscles start to ache, and our joints begin to hurt. If you suffer from acute back pain, your fate isn’t necessarily sealed. To help improve your back muscles and spine, try the following preventative measures.
The core muscles are designed to support the rest of your body, including your lower spine and back muscles. Start with building your core before trying lower back exercises, or you could hurt yourself and prevent your muscle growth from progressing.
- Try a low-impact core exercise: Core exercises target your abdominals. The most common and effective workout for your core are sit-ups, planks, and leg raises.
- Add cardio to your workouts: Running, walking, and jumping jacks can increase blood flow to the spine, which stretches your muscles and hydrates your lower back.
- Exercise your lower back: After taking 2 weeks to get used to working out, add bridges, pelvic-tilts, and cat stretches to improve elasticity in your lower spine.
- Water therapy: Staying buoyant in water can add resistance and gentle friction to muscles for strength and conditioning. Water therapy is perfect for chronic back pain.
- Use an exercise ball: Instead of sitting on a chair the entire day, swap to an exercise ball for 20 to 30 minutes. You’ll naturally engage your core muscles to say upright.
If an exercise seems difficult, you can adjust the activity to perform it without hurting yourself. When you get stronger, add more weight or fully engage in the movements.
Desk chairs usually make you slouch forward, but this position is uncomfortable and can cause pain. Disc degeneration can occur quickly, and deterioration is soon to follow once pain persists. To support the curve of your lower spine, either purchase an ergonomic chair, place a pillow or towel behind your back, or work at a standup desk. Set a reminder to check your posture every 20 minutes to ensure your leg and lower back muscles are comfortable.
Even something as simple as opening a door wrong can put stress on your spine. Always ensure you’re standing with your shoulders rolled away from your chest. Stand straight in front of every object you use. For example, plenty of vacuums make it difficult to keep your back straight because many of its attachments force you to bend. Instead, buy an extender for the hose. Be careful while shoveling or picking up objects, or you could aggravate your back further.
The hamstrings are the large muscle in your upper thighs that tend to get tired after sitting for prolonged amounts of time. During your workday, get up, bend down and try to touch your toes. If you can’t reach your toes, that’s fine; just keep bending down until you feel a stretch in your upper thigh. Touching your toes while standing can also relieve sciatica symptoms.
Working in a seated position for 8 hours will put stress on your back regardless of how many preventative measures you take. When you get home, lay down on the couch instead of sitting, or stand up straight for at least 30 minutes to bring more blood back into your joints. On the weekend, try to be more active by walking, cleaning, or bike-riding to give your back a break. Try to stretch daily to strengthen and relax your spine.
Sleeping for a minimum of 7 hours can cause pressure to rise in your discs. To keep your discs lubricated, drink plenty of water throughout the day, and don’t forget to reach for the H2O immediately after a workout. To better protect your discs, stay standing for an hour for them to regain normal pressure and work more effectively.