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The Office and Acute Lower Back Pain

Updated: Feb 6

Ever wonder why your lower back hurts sometimes? Well, it could be because you lifted something in a funny way and felt the pain right away. Or maybe your posture hasn't been great, and your back is giving you a hard time, just like your mom warned.

Today, I want to dive into a topic that touches the lives of many, especially those who are glued to office chairs day in and day out: acute lower back pain, a precursor to the more stubborn chronic discomfort. It's an issue that's increasingly prevalent in our fast-paced society. Shockingly, lower back pain stands as the largest single cause of disability in the UK, accounting for a staggering 11% of the total disability in the UK according to the latest government research.

Referrals for spinal surgery are on the rise, and an increasing number of patients are enduring long waiting periods from referral to treatment. The triggers for simple back pain are often rooted in our daily habits: poor posture, lack of exercise, prolonged periods of standing or bending, inadequate back support from chairs and incorrect lifting techniques.

So, your lower back, which is like the boss of your spine, has a big job. It holds up the weight of your upper body and helps you do everyday things like bending, twisting, and moving your hips, pelvis, legs, and feet. Because you use it a lot, the bones, muscles, ligaments, disks, and nerves in your lower back can get hurt or wear out over time, causing pain.

When your back is acting up, you might feel a dull ache in your hips, muscle spasms, or sharp tingling pain that starts in your lower back and goes down one leg (they call that sciatica). Sometimes, sitting makes it worse, but walking can make it better. And some days, it hurts more in the morning.

You might have a mix of these symptoms, and they can show up all at once or slowly over time. It's like your back is trying to tell you something.

Now, let's talk about why your back might be acting up.

Imagine your lower back working hard all day long. Sometimes, it can get strained or sprained, like when you fall, lift something heavy, or play sports. Other times, it happens because you keep doing the same movements over and over, or maybe your posture isn't the best.

When your muscles or ligaments get strained or sprained, it's like a common reason for lower back pain. But the good news is, it's usually not a big deal. It might take a few days or a couple of months to get better.

If your back pain sticks around even after trying some home remedies, it might be time to think about other reasons why it's acting up.

Posture why does it matter so much? The answer lies in how it affects the alignment of our spine, which directly impacts our overall well-being.

  • Negative Effects of Bad Posture

Bad posture changes the alignment of your spine, putting pressure on areas that don’t need it or can’t handle it. In your natural, healthy state, your spine has a healthy curve to its shape. But just like you can train muscles to change size, you can train your spine to sit in certain shapes. After spending years slumping at your desk and standing with bad posture, the natural curve of your spine is lost. In fact, the excessive strain on your spine can become so bad that it decreases the integrity of your spinal column causing your discs ( our spines’ internal shock absorbers) to weaken and compress and your vertebrae to erode. These changes not only cause long-term pain and discomfort, but the new alignment can even make you shorter and stop your ability to absorb shock and maintain proper balance.

  • Increased Pain

When your body isn’t in alignment, it isn’t happy. The way your body tells you of its unhappiness is through pain. In fact, bad posture can lead to chronic back pain and disc degeneration. The reason why is because of increased strain on your back muscles, bones, and other parts of your body. Bad posture can cause pain in parts of your body including your hips shoulders and neck This in turn can lead to tension headaches An example of this is experiencing how much easier for your body to hold the weight of your head directly above your back than it is to hold it slightly forward with no immediate support. Good posture allows your body to support the weight of your head and other body parts effortlessly.

Adopting an active lifestyle outside of the office is crucial to alleviate and prevent back pain. Regular exercise is the cornerstone of a pain-free back. At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise per week, along with two days dedicated to strength and balance training. This balanced approach, combining activities like running, yoga, and strength training, leads to not just a pain-free back, but an improved overall health and mental well-being.

It's been proven that individuals with good fitness levels experience significantly less back pain. Taking just half an hour a day for activities like walking, swimming, or cycling can make a remarkable difference. Yoga, and gym workouts are also fantastic options. The benefits are twofold: a reduction in pain, coupled with an overall enhancement in health and well-being.

Even if you're currently grappling with back pain, keeping active is essential for recovery. Exercise, when done correctly, won't harm your back. Start slow, focusing on building strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness. Gradually progress from your starting point. we all learnt to walk before we ran.

If you want to get rid of bad posture, first you need to make it easier to stand up and sit up straight. There are a few simple exercises you can do to improve your back muscles. They include squats, deadlifts, and many other strength-based exercises. Doing these exercises with proper form a few times per week can make it easier to keep the correct posture.

Training your core to hold tight and strong will assist your back muscles to improve posture. Strengthening certain muscles will allow them to hold your body in correct posture without tiring as easily, helping you hold better posture for longer.

Now, let's address a common challenge: back pain at the desk. Hours spent hunched over a keyboard can wreak havoc on your back. Fear not, for there are practical solutions:

  1. Desk Ergonomics: Ensure your workstation is set up correctly. Your screen should be at eye level, and your chair should provide adequate back support.

  2. Micro-breaks: Take short breaks every hour. Stretch, stand, and move around. It's amazing how this simple act can alleviate strain.

  3. Stretches: Incorporate theses to your morning routine . Below are some effective stretches to get you started.

  4. Stay Hydrated: Proper hydration keeps joints lubricated and prevents stiffness.

If you're feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to begin your journey towards an active lifestyle or if you'd like guidance on strengthening your muscles and correcting your posture, I'm here to help. Feel free to reach out to me for a consultation at Remember, your back health is a vital component of your overall well-being. Let's take proactive steps towards a pain-free, active, and fulfilling life.

Wishing you a healthy, pain-free journey ahead. Warm regards,

Jason Mills

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