Desk Job Causing You Back Pain? Here’s What You Can Do About It

thumb to pit

Thumbs to pits stretch | Source: Todd Sinett

Sitting gets a bad rap, but studies have shown that it’s not sitting in and of itself that’s bad, it’s sitting still. “Sitting still is bad for your circulation, your heart, and your pancreas and often leads to stiffness in your hips and glutes,” says Dr. Todd Sinett, NYC-based chiropractor and author of 3 Weeks to a Better Back. Sinett goes on to explain that sitting in place for too long even slow down your brain function.

Bottom line: You need to avoid staying in the same position for a long time.

With that in mind, we asked Sinett to highlight ways we can fight back pain, even if we’re tied to a desk job for most of the day.

  • Get up and do something every 30 minutes. Go to the printer, fill your water glass, or take a quick standing stretch. Instead of emailing a co-worker, go over to his or her desk to have a conversation about the topic, which is both healthy and productive.
  • Shift your weight every few minutes. Lean back, arch your back, and move around a bit to take yourself out of that forward hunch.
  • Get out of the office and take a brisk walk. The fresh air and motion will definitely help combat sitting too long in one position.

Brugger’s relief position stretch

Brugger’s relief position stretch | Source: Todd Sinett

  • Check your wallet. A wallet that is in your back pocket is more than enough imbalance when sitting on it to completely throw off your lower back. Put it in your front pocket instead.
  • Ergonomics in general are important. Make sure your chair height keeps your legs at 90 degrees as well as your elbows in relation to your keyboard. Your eyes should be level with the top of your computer screen.
  • Keep your head up while reading or texting. Every 10 degrees that your neck is bent forward increases the strain on your neck by 10 pounds! This has become known as “text neck” and can lead to back pain. To avoid this, make sure you text or read with the device at eye level to avoid straining your neck.


Standing abdominal stretch | Source: Todd Sinett

  • Check your posture throughout the day. One way to check your posture is through the core imbalance test. This measures just how much your forward hunch and sitting is having an impact on your posture and health. To preform the test sit in an ordinary chair, facing forward, with your feet on the floor. Now turn your head to the right and note how far you can see behind you. Turn back to your starting position and lift your right arm above your head. Now turn your head to the right again. If you can see farther with your arm raised, then you have a core that is out of balance. Why does this test work? By elevating your arm, you are stretching your abdominal muscles, allowing a release to happen. If you need the release to gain vision, this means that your abs are the culprit for your decreased range of motion. There also three stretches which have proven to be effective: the standing abdominal stretch, the “Thumbs to Pits” stretch, and “Brugger’s Relief Position” stretch. Lastly, the BackBridge helps realign your spine and subsequently fix your posture. The vast majority spends their days hunched forward and need to put extension back into their bodies, which is how the BackBridge helps.
  • Lie on an exercise ball or rolled up towel when you get home. This will help counteract the forward hunch developed by sitting all day. The cobra pose from yoga is also an effective way to let your spine curve backward slightly, extending and loosening your back muscles, opening your chest, and permitting deeper breathing. You can do this form of counteraction in your office and just ignore the stares of your co-workers, or better yet, invite them into your secret to better health!
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