The end of summer usually means two things: the end of beautiful weather, and time to head back to school (and work). Unfortunately, this usually means a return to long hours of sitting in class or at a workstation.
While sitting may seem relaxing and “easy” on the body, our spine actually experiences a greater level of compression and stress while we are sitting, especially with poor posture. Not only is sitting tough on the joints of our back and neck, but the muscles surrounding our spine can become tense, weak and extremely uncomfortable. With that being said, here are four tips to help relieve neck and back pain from long hours of sitting:
1. Vary your position. Sitting at a desk all day puts increased pressured on your spine. After 30 minutes of sitting, make sure you walk around to keep blood and fluids flowing to your spine.
2. Stay flexible. Optimal spinal health means having flexibility in all directions. If your thorax (upper-mid back and ribcage) has limited rotation movement, more load and stress can be transferred to your low back, neck or other body parts.
3. Keep your core in check. Regain optimal control of your deep spinal muscles (core) following an episode of neck or back pain. Exercises that support and strengthen the spine can go a long way to curing current back and neck pain, and preventing pain in the future.
4. Correct postural habits. Be aware of habitual postures and positions (such as always sitting on one side of the couch, slouching with your feet on the coffee table, carrying your bag or purse always over the same shoulder, sitting cross legged, leaning usually on the same elbow etc.) Habitually poor postures may indicate weaknesses in certain muscle groups or stiffness within the body.
Keep these tips posted somewhere handy to remind you throughout the day that good posture can help alleviate neck and back pain. Hopefully these strategies will prevent pain, improve posture and keep you healthy, well and more productive!