Back pain Liverpool. In the U.K, back pain is the most common reported cause for absence from work. Statistically, 40% of the population will suffer with low back pain each year, 50 million working days are lost and £5 billion is lost each year in sickness absence costs, this equates to £200 per person.
These statistics are not surprising seeing as there is a wide variety of health risks associated with sitting for long periods. Specifically we’ll look to address some of the spinal and muscular ones with this blog providing just a small summary of a few useful exercises you can do that help combat those knock- on effects of a desk- based posture and to help encourage a pain- free life away from the office.
Thoracic (mid back) extension exercise
A stiff back can make it difficult to stabilise your shoulders and keep your head in the correct position. This is an exercise that really looks to open up the mid back and reverse that hunched over posture that you develop through hours of sitting at the desk. The most important thing to remember while performing this exercise is to really focus on creating that extension movement through the back by using the foam roller or rolled up towel as a fulcrum. When you find a tight or restricted area stay there until you feel a noticeable change and your back feels looser.
I recommend performing this exercise every evening for 4/5 minutes so you really start to notice the difference.
Bret Contreras, (2013), Thoracic extension drill [ONLINE]. Available at: http://bretcontreras.com/military-press-hurts-my-back-what-should-i-do/ [Accessed 17 December 15].
This is a great exercise to reinforce the extension in the mid back as well as opening up the hips and improving the flexibility in the knees and ankles. When preparing for the squat create tension through your abdomen and glutes then drop down as if you are sitting into a chair by moving your hips back and pushing your knees apart. Remember to keep upright through your spine and try not to let your head drop forward or lean back. Try performing this exercise for 10-12 reps for 3-4 sets.
Diesal strength, (2011), how to squat [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.dieselsc.com/how-to-squat/ [Accessed 17 December 15].
Sitting down for long periods of time can take its toll on your hip flexors, the muscles at the front of the hip. You are basically sat in a shortened hip position for most of the day leaving the muscles tight and weak and this can really play havoc with the joints of the lower back. A highly effective way to start to lengthen these muscles is through an exercise called the couch stretch. This stretch allows you to get full range of movement through hip extension and knee flexion.
To get the most of this stretch, hold for around 2-3 minutes or for the length of the adverts between your television programmes. By performing this stretch regularly it won’t be long before you notice huge improvements in your hip mobility.
Nano Workout, (2013), Couch stretch [ONLINE]. Available at: http://nanoworkout.com/2012/04/hip-flexor-stretch-watching-tv/ [Accessed 17 December 15].
Self massage for your hands and forearms
All that typing can really take its toll on the muscles in the hands and forearms which can lead to pain and poor function. This is because we are constantly holding our forearms, fingers and the intricate bones of our wrists in a bent and shortened position. Over time this can shorten and weaken the muscles and can often factor in common neurological conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome or tendon problems like golfer or tennis elbow.
Self-massage with a squash or tennis ball into these muscles can really help loosen of the effected structures and allow a more freely moving hand and wrist to better accommodate the repetitive action during typing. Try this for 2-3 minutes on each side at lunch time and see how it feels when you go back to typing.
Improve your shoulder stability
With all that sitting some of our postural muscles start to weaken. One major issue with this is that our shoulders slump forward which can have significant knock- on effects to the neck, mid back and going into the arms and hands. However, there are some great exercises you can do which will help strengthen these muscles and bring about greater control though the shoulder joint.
One of them is through gaining control through a muscle called the serratus anterior. This muscle basically helps control the shoulder blade and allows it to sit in its most optimal position on the rib cage.
Lie flat on the floor with a light weight in your hand. Stay relaxed so your shoulder blades are in contact with the floor, then you are going to push up so your shoulder blade leaves the floor, pause at the top, before slowly controlling back down again. Repeat this 10-12 times each side for 3-4 sets.
Active training world, (2012), The serratus press [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.activetrainingworld.co.uk/news/2012/05/19/shoulder_impingement_what_it_is_and_how_to_avoid_it [Accessed 17 December 15].
How can osteopathy help?
Osteopaths regularly see patients with musculoskeletal pain and injuries in people of all ages. We frequently encounter patients who complain of back ache due to prolonged sitting at a desk. An Osteopath will take a case history, perform an examination and provide the appropriate treatment to help resolve your issue. They will also provide you with a relevant management plan and home care advice to help manage your symptoms in between appointments. Treatment will normally involve a combination of soft tissue massage, stretching techniques and joint manipulations to enable correct function of the body.
Liverpool Back Pain and Sports Injury Clinic