Most of us work at computer workstations today which can lead to neck and back discomfort. Having properly set up a computer task chair can go a long way in helping support a proper posture, which in turn leads to less neck and back pain. Here are some tips if you are experiencing discomfort in your work chair.
Set the proper chair height – If the seat is too high or too low, it can lead to increased pressure in the spine leading to increased back pain. Most people have the seat too high, because desk heights are designed for clearance for very tall people. So most people shorter than 6’4″, have to make some form of accommodation. The proper height encourage a 90-95 degree bend at the knee with feet flat on the floor.
Adjust Seat Pan Depth – Some chairs have a seat pan that can be adjusted to provide proper leg clearance so that the person can sit all the way back in the chair to be able to properly use the lumbar support. The proper distance between the front edge of the seat pan and back of the leg (just below the knee) should be about 2 finger widths deep. If seat pan doesn’t adjust and the clearance is not enough, purchasing a separate lumbar cushion can help make up the difference.
Adjust Lumbar Support – Most people set the lumbar support too low. The lumbar support should be high enough that you feel it just under the lower part of the rib-cage in the back. The back rest should be upright and locked to encourage about a 95 degree angle at the hip.
Adjust the Armrests – The armrests on the chair should lightly support the forearms when in proper seated posture. It is important to avoid direct contact with the elbow as this can lead to ulnar nerve irritation. Also make sure to not have to slouch or shrug your shoulders in order to use the armrests.
If you are working 80% of your day in front of a computer during the day and your chair cannot be set up to support a proper seated posture, look for a computer task chair that can be adjusted to meet your needs.
The most common injury in the work place was a back injury. Back Braces were the big “safety” feature in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s in helping protect workers backs when lifting objects. The problem arose when people would wear back braces for any lifting activities and gradually their abdominal core muscles became weaker and weaker because of lack of use. This led to people becoming more susceptible to having a back injury from performing even the most basic of movements. The question arose, “Are back braces bad for you?”
The popularity of back bracing has waned from this heyday, but we are beginning to see a resurgence of back bracing again. This time around many of them are more compression based wraps versus the more rigid support provided by the older back braces. The benefit of compression based wraps is they provide light support but encourage more abdominal muscle engagement to brace the back. In acute cases this can help people get over the “hump” with back pain. For people with chronic back pain, wearing a brace all the time could actually be exacerbating the injury. The important thing is to focus on spending time strengthening you back and abdominal core muscles
One of the biggest challenges for people with back pain is getting a good night sleep. Getting a better night sleep with back pain isn’t impossible if you do a few things. Follow these tips to a better night sleep.
- Check your mattress – If your mattress is over 10 years old you will want to consider replacing it. An old mattress doesn’t do a good job provide good back support.
- Check your pillows – Pillows break down quicker than mattresses and can reduce support for the head and neck. Having the proper head and neck support will help provide a good nights sleep
- Stretch – Stretches like hamstring stretch, piriformis stretch, iliopsaos stretch, and back lying trunk rotations can help get muscles loosened up in the back encouraging better blood floor for recovery while you sleep
- Check your position – Laying flat on your back is the most decompressed position you can put your spine in. Place a pillow under the knees to provide even better support. Side-lying is sometimes more comfortable, especially if you place a body pillow between your arms and knees. Avoid laying on your stomach.
- Give yourself time – Making sure you go to bed early enough to let your back get into a position to relax is important. Often slight shifts in position may pull us from deep sleep, due to pain response. If you normally sleep 7 hours, go to bed an extra hour earlier to help you hit your target.
Getting a good nights sleep will help with stress and irritability with back pain. Before you go to bed tonight try these tips to get a better nights sleep.
A recent article published on Harvard Health Publications cites how the approach to treat back pain has changed since the 1980’s. Up until the 1980’s bed rest was the most prevelant way to treat back pain. By the early 1990’s, use of anti-inflammatory medication and light activity where commonly prescribed. Recent studies now state that use of any medication in the initial treatment of back pain is ineffective and possibly harmful. The new way doctors are prescribing treatment is to try, massage, heat, accupuncture, and spinal manipulation for treating acute back pain. For chronic back pain the recommendation is to prescribe physical therapy, accupuncture, and stress reduction programs.
The new approach to treating back pain is not using any new techniques, but by limiting, if not eliminating the prescription of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories is definitely a big change for many physicians. Learn more: Here’s something completely different for low back pain.
Many people tout the benefits of Yoga for reducing chronic back pain and many studies have shown that physical therapy is more effective than taking pain medication. So which is more effective, Yoga vs. Physical Therapy for Chronic Low Back Pain?
A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine finds that
Yoga is a great way to maintain pain relief once the initial phase of back pain is addressed by a medical professional. But caution needs to be addressed when considering Yoga as a primary method for treating chronic low back pain. First, the cause of low back pain is different for everyone and needs to be addressed individually. Secondly, Yoga instructors are not medical providers, so they aren’t trained to recognize potential risks when performing certain movements.
Physical Therapy is great to help address increased bouts of pain and help educate the patient about what precautions they should take with any exercise program, including Yoga. Also Physical Therapy, is covered under most insurance plans, while Yoga is not.
Most people would benefit from practicing Yoga as a maintenance program between physical therapy services in treating chronic low back pain.
Aging is associated with an increased risk for low back pain caused by lumbar disc degeneration in both men and women. A recent study from China suggests that lower estrogen levels after menopause are associated with more severe disc degeneration in women and that hormone replacement therapy, also called HRT or HT, may help.
Several studies have shown a strong link between estrogen levels and disc generation. This study is the first to include men in the comparison group, according to an article published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).
The researchers documented disc degeneration measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI scan) in men and women as they age. They discovered that younger, age-matched men are more susceptible to disc degeneration than pre-menopausal women, but post-menopausal women have a significant tendency to develop more severe disc degeneration than men of the same age.
Can Osteoarthritis be prevented? Researchers from the University of Surrey identified a link between metabolism and osteoarthritis. Metabolic changes, caused by a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle, trigger’s the genetic reprogramming of cells in the body and joints.
Such metabolic changes impact upon the cells ability to produce energy, forcing it to generate alternative sources to function. The stress this places on cells leads to the overproduction of glucose, which when not used for energy transforms into lactic acid, which is difficult for the body to flush out. Abnormal levels of this acid in the body leads to the inflammation of the joint’s cartilage which impedes on movement and causes pain.
By identifying metabolic changes in cells, it is potentially possible to control or significantly slow down the symptoms of osteoarthritis, alleviating the suffering of millions of people.
This debilitating condition disproportionately affects post-menopausal women who are more pre-disposed to the condition because of biology, genetics and hormones. Currently there is no effective treatment for this painful ailment, with only painkillers available to treat symptoms and no known cure.
“It is important never to underestimate the significance of a healthy diet and lifestyle as not only does it impact upon our general well-being but can alter the metabolic behaviour of our cells, tissues and organs leading to serious illnesses.”
Credit: Science Daily
During the expert review, researchers from the University of Surrey identified a crucial link between metabolism and osteoarthritis. Metabolic changes, caused by a poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle, trigger’s the genetic reprogramming of cells in the body and joints, according to an article in Science Daily.
It states that metabolic changes impact upon the cells ability to produce energy, forcing it to generate alternative sources to function. The stress this places on cells leads to the overproduction of glucose, which when not used for energy transforms into lactic acid, which is difficult for the body to flush out. Abnormal levels of this acid in the body leads to the inflammation of the joint’s cartilage which impedes on movement and causes pain.
This demonstrates that many conditions we experience are significantly influenced by our lifestyle choices and diet. Placing importance on these things will help improve ones quality of life.
When we think of back pain, we often think it is caused by lifting something heavy, falling, or getting in some sort of accident. We often overlook causes for back pain that are less obvious. Here are a few less obvious causes for back pain:
- Sitting to long – Sitting shortens your hip muscles that attach to your low back and can cause significant back pain when tight.
- Carrying bags on one shoulder – Placing the weight of a backpack, purse, or carry bag on one shoulder can lead to putting excessive stress on the back and spine, leading to back pain
- Smoking – Research has shown that people that smoke, have a higher risk of experiencing back pain.
- Excessive phone or tablet use – The posture when using a phone or tablet encourages forward head posture which increase the risk of neck and back pain.
Being aware of some of the most overlooked causes of back pain can help you avoid unnecessary back pain.