If you are like most Americans you sit all day completing sedentary desk work in front of a computer monitor. The number one condition people seek physical therapy for is low back pain (LBP). And I’m certain this is not a coincidence as I believe these two phenomena are linked. I’ve even heard some of my colleagues’ lecture to patients, “sitting is the new smoking.”
If you have had chronic pain for a few months or longer you are certainly not alone. The good news is you don’t have to live in pain. By calling your family physician or, because Maryland and many other states in the US allow “Direct Access,” you can be on your way to living pain-free today.
But before you call the doctor there are some things you can try. Be patient as this is not a quick fix but is the beginning of a lifestyle change that will help you live with less pain on a daily basis.
Try getting up and walking around the office every 30 minutes. I typically advise patients to never sit longer than an hour or more consecutively.
Try a Stand-up Desk
It might be wise to look into a stand-up desk of varying heights. There are dozens on the market and some could be upwards of thousands of dollars. I’ve worked with patient’s who’s work paid for a stand-up desk, and all that was required was a signed doctor’s note. You might want to check with your HR department. But if you work will not provide you with a stand-up desk and you are looking for an economical fix try putting your computer or monitor on top of a stack of books or a sturdy cardboard box.
Try some “tummy time” a few times a day. All you have to do is lay on the floor or prop yourself up on your elbows. I would advise starting slow, maybe 3-5 minutes in the prone position to begin. This provides an easy static stretch into the EXT for the lumbar spine. This stretch also helps to take the stress off the vertebrae and discs. You can also watch TV, play with your kids, text on your phone or read a book in this position. It’s such a passive stretch you won’t even feel like you are exercising!
Schedule a Stroll
Start a weekly walking program 3-5 times a week. Even if it’s just around the block for a few minutes. Standing/walking is a neutral position for the spine and helps to counteract hours of sitting during the day.
Standing Back Extensions
Finally try this exercise made famous for Robin McKenzie, one of the most famous and well respected physical therapists to practice. This is another great activity to help alleviate pressure on the discs of the spine.
If you have tried these and are still in pain, please call us to schedule an appointment.