Tips on Managing Back Pain Throughout the Day
- Dr. Kevin Bloom
Many people spend the bulk of each day with their lower back in the flexed position. Common examples include prolonged sitting, prolonged driving, and sleeping in the fetal position. Repetitive/prolonged lower back flexion can put tremendous pressure on the lower back discs, muscles, and ligaments and ultimately result in pain.
The following strategies aid in creating more of a balance between lower back flexion and extension throughout the day:
- Pace yourself with sitting. Put a sticky note on your computer reminding you to take frequent sitting breaks. Become aware of your sitting limit/threshold (in terms of time). As an example, if lower back pain typically starts after sitting 30 minutes, then stand up every 20-25 minutes. In other words, if possible, try to be proactive instead of reactive.
- If you have a laptop (mobile) computer for work or for studying, try to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day. One can also stand while using their laptop computer of which can be placed on a higher surface.
- If your day involves lots of sitting, eat lunch while standing.
- If you have to drive for longer periods of time, aim to split up the drive by getting gas or a coffee part way through. Go for a five minute walk before getting back into the car again.
- Try to sleep on your back. If you want to lie on your side, sleep with your legs straight with a pillow between your knees.
- If you are sitting through a talk/lecture, take advantage of any scheduled break times. Go for a short walk. Try to avoid sitting during this entire break time period.
- While standing up straight, put your hands on your hips. Arch backward from the waist. Only go as far as to not exceed mild discomfort. Hold for five seconds. Repeat this movement ten times. Revisit this same exercise later in the day.