Office comfort – How to make sitting in an office from 9 to 5 more of a comfort zone for you and your body
4 min. read
Office comfort and lower back pain
Forget blaming your office chair
How to make sitting in an office from 9 to 5 more of a comfort zone for you and your body.
So you have an office job and spend at least 40 hours a week sitting in front of your computer? Chances are your shoulder/neck area is in knots or your lower back hurts, but don’t worry, this doesn’t mean anything is getting damaged or that your body is 'worn out' from work.
Can stress cause back pain?
Most of us who work in offices will experience back or neck-shoulder pain at some time. Usually, the pain is not due to anything serious and settles within a matter of days or weeks. It is simply that muscles and muscle groups that are not physically challenged might shorten or become weaker, and others will become tense or cramped. This is only natural if you spend a lot of time at a desk, but can be avoided if you are proactive about your own health and fitness.
What many people don’t know: your work environment – be it the position of your computer, the height of your desk or the ergonomic shape of your chair – has only a very slight effect on your body. So forget about blaming your office chair. It’s not your chair – it’s probably you!
Of course, it is always a good idea to make your work environment as pleasant as possible, but the answer to the above question is yes. Stress can contribute to lower back pain.
How does stress cause back pain?
Stress can cause headaches and affect your work performance.
It might sound strange, but stress can be the reason behind other physical symptoms as well like chest pain, headache, insomnia and fatigue. So, how does anxiety cause back pain and what is going on in your body that leads to the above physical symptoms?
When you feel stressed, chemical and physical reactions take place in your body designed to protect you from the pain that anxiety would cause without them. So when you are stressed cortisol and adrenaline are released resulting in an involuntary tightening of your muscles.
This usually takes place in your neck, shoulders, or down in the spine. If you get stressed often and these tensions keep happening, then you may experience frequent back pain. That’s something that you don’t feel in your body, but there is another physical reaction to stress that we feel. Have you noticed that your breathing pattern changes when you are stressed? That change causes strain or tension on your middle back, and your shoulders hunch up, which leads to pain in your upper and middle back.
Why is my back pain getting worse?
Inactivity worsens the back pain.
So if there is not an exact reason for your lower back pain and stress is behind it, the lack of activity is the most probable reason.
The lack of activity leads to physical deconditioning and in turn, muscle weakening aggravates the pain. This brings more stress and causes further pain in your back.
So if there is not an exact reason for your lower back pain and stress is behind it, this graph will help you understand why the pain may be getting worse.
How to relieve back pain
Physical activity against lower back pain
Back pain is very common and many pain relief methods have been tested over the years. If you are wondering how to get rid of back pain, read the list below with natural strategies that will help you deal with it.
Stay active as long as usual, if possible. But see your doctor if you are worried about the back pain or if the pain persists or suddenly gets worse.
Speak to your doctor about whether you can keep working and, if necessary, discuss with your employer what can be done to make it easier for you to stay at work.
Lower back pain treatment.
If necessary, modify the kind of activity that causes you pain.
Smarten up about back pain. Inform yourself and listen to your body. If necessary, speak to a doctor, physiotherapist or chiropractor.
Don‘t stay in bed and wait for the pain to go away. In the past, this was the accepted response to back pain, but evidence shows that this does not help recovery. The sooner you get moving around the better.
Don’t worry. Back pain is rarely serious and worrying too much about it will only delay your recovery.
Don’t avoid activity simply as a way of avoiding the pain.
Please note that none of the above tips replace professional medical advice. Consult a health expert in case of an injury or if you suspect overuse of joints or a medical condition such as a fracture. A physician should be consulted in those acute cases where the condition is accompanied by reddening, swelling or hyperthermia of joints, ongoing joint trouble or severe pain and/or are associated with neurological symptoms (e.g. numbness, tingling, loss of motion).
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