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Lower back pain in the corporate professional

By Dr Fauntine Lariba (Osteopath)

Lower back pain is common amongst a number of adults and especially in those who find themselves sedentary for prolonged hours at work. Below are five simple considerations that could prevent this pain from escalating into an injury that requires time, money and energy to manage. 

DISCLAIMER: This list is by no means exhaustive and a consultation with an Osteopath for further screening and individualised management is still recommended. 

1. Common postures

Throughout our work day we will subconsciously assume the same postures. When thinking about posture we need to consider three elements:

1. The physical position of the body. 

2. The time spent in this posture. 

3. How we are getting in and out of particular postures.

All three components can lead to pain and should be considered when managing lower back pain. 

ACTION POINTS:

-Add variety into your workplace posture as much as possible.

-Notice which postures you are commonly returning to and see if you can change them up. Eg/ if you always sit with your right leg crossed over your left try the opposite.

-We are similar to a high rise building. If the building were lean, it would put undue strain on the supporting structures. We too want to sit/stand tall to avoid undue strain. 

2. Desk ergonomics

Not all chairs are created equal. Some chairs are designed to be sat in for prolonged periods. These ergonomic chairs have cushioning in deliberate places and have the capacity to be adjusted. Customising the seat pan angle, backrest angle, seat height and arm rests to suit your unique body length will be important for maximising comfort. 

Monitor height/s, keyboard proximity, mouse distance and foot rest are also key factors to consider when addressing lower back discomfort. Like our building analogy above, if we are on a constant lean in one direction we will be straining our system.  

ACTION POINTS:

-Play and fiddle with your seat settings: what feels comfortable for you?

-Can you arrange your desk so that your joints are largely stacked on top of one another for the majority of the time? 

3. Surrounding structures

Is it even your lower back that is causing your discomfort? There are a number of nearby structures within the body that can refer pain to the lower back including the bowels, reproductive system and structures on the front of the pelvis. 

ACTION POINTS:

-Note the timing of your pain and see if it is related to particular movements. 

-Note the location of your pain and see if you can pinpoint it. 

-Take the above information to your Osteopath and they will help you uncover which structure is causing the pain.

4. Move those hips

Moving your hips through a full range of motion is important for the health of your entire lower body. As soon as we are missing motion from one area in the body another area has to bear the load as this can lead to injury and pain. 

ACTION POINTS:

-Check out our online classes! They will give you a good starting point for happy and healthy hips. 

-When restrictions permit, pop in for an in person appointment and/or class and we can check how you’re moving and create you a tailored program. 

5. Core activation

Does your movement practice include core work? If not it would be a good idea to add this in. The core wraps around the lower half of the torso and a strong core reduces the pressure on the lower back. We could also argue that the pelvic floor is part of the core and if these muscles are not functioning correctly it may manifest in lower back pain.  

ACTION POINTS:

-There are a series of core exercises you can choose from and as always, it is best to chat to a professional about which ones may be the most appropriate for you. Ideally you want a static (not moving) core exercise and a dynamic (moving) core exercise. 

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September 30, 2021

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