How to Reduce The Effects of Lower Back Pain When Sitting.
By Stuart Carter, Men's Health Coach & Head Trainer, The Fit Father Project
London bus drivers were found to be twice as likely to suffer from heart attacks compared to the conductors on the same buses.
There are a huge number of careers which require you to be sitting all day. Whether you're a lorry driver, taxi driver, office worker or a teacher you will find yourself sat down for hours at a time.
Even I, a fitness expert here at the Fit Father Project spend hours sitting at a computer, sharing my knowledge and researching new ways to improve your health and fitness.
Of course, work is not the only place you sit. The couch in the evening with your favorite program is also very inviting; after all, you have to wind down somehow.
It is important to note that sitting by itself is not bad, but extended periods of sitting are. The problem is what you can do about it. Quitting your job is probably desirable, but not actually a valid option.
Effects of Sitting All Day
The most recent studies have concluded that the average adult sits for 7 hours a day; this can increase to as much as 10 hours as you age.
This can lead to several health issues now and in the future. It is important to be aware of what these are:
- Back pain – the leading cause of sick days is a result of slouching and excess pressure on the lower discs in your spine.These push on the nerves and send pain through your body; preventing you from undertaking most activities.
- Slower metabolism – sitting requires less effort by your muscles and organs; your body compensates for this by slowing down your metabolism. Unfortunately, this can lead to weight gain, a lack of energy and even diabetes as your body is less efficient at controlling blood sugar levels.
- Organ Damage – extended periods of sitting and your slower metabolism means that less blood is getting around your body; potentially starving your vital organs of oxygen and nutrients.
Of course, there are many more issues, some of which you may already be experiencing. The effects are compounded by aging as your body naturally slows in a response to lower levels of testosterone.
The 7 Ways to Beat Lower Back Pain When Sitting:
Fortunately we, at the Fit Father Project are here to help. It is possible to reduce and even eliminate some of the negative effects of lower back pain when sitting all day.
You simply need to apply some, or all, of these 7 steps to your daily routine.
Step #1 -Stand Up!
If you work as a driver you can’t stand while driving. But, if you are in any other environment you probably can.
Instead of sitting at your computer for hours, try standing at it.
There are special desks designed which move between sitting and standing positions to allow you to do a little of each throughout the day.
- Ask Your Boss if you can have a new desk and make it a standing up one.
- Do not try to stand all day straight away. Start with 2 hours and build it up.
Standing improves your posture and uses your muscles; increasing metabolism and calorie burning.
Step #2 – Moving at Work
Standing may engage your muscles and improve your posture but you are still staring at a screen and probably hunched over.
The next step is to start moving at work.
- Set an alarm for every thirty minutes. When it goes off walk around the office for 2 minutes.
- Repeat all day. Don’t worry about what others think; it’s your health.
If you have stairs in your building you could go down several flights and back up to get your heart pumping.
You may also be relieved to hear that a two-minute break can improve concentration and focus at work; making it a plus for you and your boss.
Most driving jobs can accommodate you jumping out of the vehicle and walking around it, but truck driving is definitely an exception.
You will need to make the most of your 45-minute break every 4.5 hours to reverse the negative effects of sitting all day.
Step #3 – Exercise
One hour of exercise a day can combat the effects of sitting for eight hours!
This is great news if you are already physically active. If not, then it is time to start:
- Select an activity you enjoy, such as walking and commit to a time to do it every day. You could replace your daily commute.
- Study the Fit Father 24-min workout and start implementing it into your day. Combining this with walking instead of driving to work will probably give you an hour of exercise.
Step #4 – Posture
Sitting at a computer is one of the worst positions for placing strain on the top of your back and neck. But all sitting positions can lead to lower back issues. Improve your posture by:
- Purchasing a back support or using a rolled up towel. Put it between the chair and your lower spinal curve. You can do this in your vehicle as well.
- Position your chair correctly – eyes level with screen, feet flat on floor and arms and elbows on the desk.
This can prevent many issues from even occurring.
Step #5 – Back Stretching Exercises
No matter what sitting job you do you can undertake back stretching exercises when you are not at work. This will alleviate any soreness and help to prevent injury. Here are two to try today:
- The Plank – You're probably already familiar with this one. Simply lie on the floor with your forearms in front of you, elbows in line with your shoulder. Then lift yourself up onto your toes and elbows and hold for 15 seconds. Repeat 5 times.
- 2-point Superman – Kneel on all fours and then straighten your right leg behind you while raising your left arm straight in front of you; like Superman flying. Hold for 10 seconds then repeat with the other leg. Repeat the whole process 5 times.For a complete video tutorial and exercise guide, click here:
Step #6 – Deadlifts for Posture
The Fit Father project has already created an excellent guide to the dumbbell deadlift. This is actually one of the best ways to improve your posture and undo the damage of sitting all day.
- Check out this dumbbell deadlift guide.
- Do not use a heavy weight; this is about posture, not strength building.
- Maintain correct posture and repeat 5 times.
This does not replace your regular deadlift exercise for strength training, muscle growth and weight loss.
Step #7 – Change Your Chair
One of the biggest issues with sitting all day is the way your posture slouches reducing the effectiveness of your body’s natural processes.
To avoid this you can change your chair.
- Purchase a yoga ball chair or a kneeling chair; these will force you to sit correctly.
Bonus section – Tips to Avoid Sitting
Perhaps the best approach to beat the negative effects of sitting all day is not to sit!
Unfortunately, this is not always possible, but, if you can implement any of these tips it will help:
- Hold meetings while walking; walking is better for you than simply standing.
- Dance; you don’t need to be good, but when you have a private moment at work…
- Walk to a colleagues desk to discuss an issue rather than email or phone.
- Get a drink every hour; preferably water as whiskey is often frowned upon at work.
- Fidget at your desk as much as possible; it gets the blood moving.
Of course, all of these tips should form part of your daily routines. Eating properly and continuing your regular exercise schedule is essential to improving your health.
It doesn’t matter what your current level of fitness is; you can improve your muscle mass and reduce your body fat as well as reducing the negative side effects of sitting all day.
Soon you'll be ready to take on any intensity of exercise you want to while limiting your chances of getting sore and injured.
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Until next time, I hope this has given you everything you need to get started with negating the effects of sitting all day. You may not be able to avoid sitting all day but you can do something about the damage being caused.
Your new friend & health coach,
Head Training Staff, The Fit Father Project
Brotherhood Nickname: “The Fit Brit”
Bragging Rights: 16 Years in the fitness industry, Author of ‘The Easy Fitness Guide', Father of 4 boys and Husband to a Venezuelan beauty.
*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on lower back pain when sitting.