Fighting lower back pain at work.
Over the last few decades jobs have shifted from occupations with moderate physical activity to more sedentary based desk tasks. This has lead to a spike in neck, shoulder and especially lower back issues in the general population.
A recent study by the U.S department of health found that around 80% of people will have some form of low back pain in their lives. The connection between desk workers and low back pain is strong and it has been estimated that these individuals are sometimes stuck seated both at work and at home for around 15 hours of the day.
As such, combating the buildup of tension as well as learning how to improve your body to be far stronger in a postural sense is a great way to maintain healthy spinal health. This can be done both at work as well as doing a few things at home to ensure that your body is at its optimum to prevent injuries from occurring.
One of the main findings of those with low back pain, in particular those that suffer flare ups and recurrent conditions through the low back, is the fact that they have poor gluteal/pelvic muscle, poor core control and is often paired with a low level of physical activity, leading to poor mobility.
Addressing these factors can lead to an improvement in pain, as well as attempt to ensure potential
re-aggravations of the condition do not occur again.
Many people go to the gym, do fitness classes and other forms of fitness and conditioning but they often don’t train the glutes or the core as their body is in a state where it is opting not to use these muscles. Often with low back pain these areas don’t get moved much due to pain inhibiting function, the body learns a way around this and often recruits other aspects of the body for what the core and especially the glutes should be doing. Essentially the body learns to cheat around the fact it doesn’t have to use the appropriate muscles. When in pain and discomfort this is okay for enabling us to go about our everyday lives and carry on through our day. However, long term, this is very detrimental, our body can get stuck in this poor movement pattern. There is a large amount of studies that show that those with niggly, nagging low backs, usually have a deficiency in their pelvic strength, as well as a poor ability to activate and use the muscles where required.
So, despite your efforts to try and get stronger and healthier post lower spine injuries often these attempts are in vain as your body is not using the appropriate muscles. Squats at the gym or body pump classes won’t be training what we need to ensure that another lower back injury doesn’t occur. Rather exercises centered on relearning how to use the glutes and the core effectively are far wiser and easier to gain benefits from, this way we train the function and endurance of your muscle rather than just simple brute force. This way we can train your body to be endurable throughout the day, rather than be strong for a minutes worth of work, which is ideal when stuck at a desk all day.
Stay tuned for part two of this article – Stretching and strengthening exercises to do at home and at work. Theses exercises may reduce occupational aches, pains and injuries, as well as strengthen and condition areas to take the stress off of your back. They should be performed carefully and controlled, and if any pain appears cease the activity straight away.
About Dr Josh Wood, Osteopath
Josh likes to employ a direct approach to his treatments, he looks at your primary issue as well as why the injury or pain occurred. He is committed to personalising his treatments rather than providing a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Josh’s main areas of interest are sports injuries and chronic pain recovery and rehabilitation. Josh has prepared this article and the following one which looks at stretching exercises you can do at home due to the number of patients he sees with lower back pain caused from sitting at their desks and couches for hours on end. To make an appointment or to discuss your personal requirements further, please contact Josh on 03 9830 7044 or book online at www.springosteo.com.au
About Spring Osteo Clinic
Spring is an osteopathic, clinical pilates and massage clinic located on Whitehorse Road, Surrey Hills, Victoria. We are available to treat your back, neck, headaches, migraines, sports injuries, pregnancy pain, postural related pain and more. We take a holistic approach to your treatment by reviewing your direct problem area as well as assessing your whole body and lifestyle. This helps us to understand the cause of the problem and find ways for you to gain immediate and long-term relief; offer preventative solutions; and equip you with pain management skills. We treat people through all stages of life including babies and children; teenagers with study strains; athletes – beginner to professional; pregnant women and new mums; tradesmen and desk bound workers with postural complaints and more. www.springosteo.com.au
Cooper, N.A., Scavo, K.M., Strickland, K.J. et al. Eur Spine J (2016) 25: 1258. doi:10.1007/s00586-015-4027-6
^ glute weakness correlation with low back pain
US department of health website used for stats on prevalence on low back pain = https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/Arthritis-Osteoporosis-and-Chronic-Back-Conditions?topicid=3#Ref-08
Inoue, G., Miyagi, M., Uchida, K. et al. J Orthop Sci (2015) 20: 23. doi:10.1007/s00776-014-0644-x
^ prevalence of back pain in seated workplaces