COVID-19 locked us all away in our homes, which has led to us changing our daily habits, particularly having to work from home! As many of us have spent more time sitting while on our laptops or watching TV, for example, this can be a major cause of back pain due to the increased stress and pressure the back muscles and spinal discs are put under.
How our spines are physically impacted
The discs in your spine expand and contract as you move, acting to absorb the pressure that occurs between your spinal vertebrae. This ‘shock’ absorption is important for keeping a healthy spine, allowing for movement.
Sitting puts more pressure on your spine than standing, and with this, your discs become compressed, which over time, can cause you to lose flexibility and increase the risk of herniated discs.
Sitting also causes your back muscles to become less active, which leads to weaker muscles over time. When you have a weak back and core muscles, your spine is less supported, which increases the likelihood of injury.
The sitting position also tightens your hip flexors and can restrict blood flow to the gluteal muscles, which are important spine supporters.
Sitting for prolonged periods of time can also mean that our posture changes, with a forward head position and rounded shoulders being prevalent. These posture changes can cause increased stress on the spinal ligaments to stretch beyond their healthy limit, increasing the wear on our discs.
Top 5 tips for the best sitting position:
Use support for your back
Use a lumbar pillow or a rolled up towel to support your lower back.
Adjust the height of your chair
Move your seat up and down until your legs are parallel with the ground and your knees are even with your hips. Your feet should be resting flat on the floor. Add something to elevate your feet into this position if they don’t reach the floor. Avoid sitting cross-legged because it can reduce blood flow to your legs!
The position of your monitor or screen is important
Make sure it is directly in front of you (to avoid any twisting), that it’s at a comfortable height so that you don’t have to look downwards or upwards and that it is a comfortable distance away (an arm’s length is a good measurement to use).
Place your keyboard and mouse here
Try to leave about 6 inches between the edge of the desk and the keyboard to give your wrists room to be supported. If your keyboard is raised, maybe look for a wrist pad that can help to position your hands evenly.
Take regular breaks
These don’t need to be long, even standing for a minute or two every half hour will help to break up the longer sitting periods.
Physiotherapy Appointments in Sheffield
Whether you’re wanting to ease spinal pain caused by sitting at home during Covid-19 period or generally feeling discomfort in that region, Contact us for further information about the treatment options available to you.