Here at Midland Sports Rehab, we always have patients who come in with complaints of pain associated with sitting due to employment. No surprise that the rate at which we see these types of complaints has significantly increased since COVID-19 affected us all. People are still working from home at a dining table, kitchen island, or a home office set up that is not nearly as ergonomically designed as the one at work. Add to this the increased sitting while we eat, watch tv or drive and the decrease in physical activity during the stay at home orders and that is a lot of time in one position.
We have patients with a litany of aches and pains because of desk work, including headaches, neck pain, shoulder discomfort and low back pain just to name a few. Physical therapists understand that any position we put our body in for long periods of time causes adaptation. The adaptations to sitting usually present as forward head posture, rounded shoulders, increased curvature of the upper back, decreased curvature of the low back and tight hips. All of these can lead to pain during other daily tasks, return to activity, or while trying to sleep at night. The fix for this pain, at least for most people is simple and does not require working less or buying some expensive stand-up desk or uncomfortable stability ball chair which may or may not help.
Below are three simple steps to help decrease or alleviate any pain you may be having because of sitting all day:
STEP 1. Take breaks!
Stand up, walk around, do anything else. Giving your body a reprieve even for just a few minutes from being in the same position for hours on end will help alleviate some of the issues. Taking breaks also makes you more productive when you sit back down.
STEP 2. Move!
Any type of exercise not only leads to less pain but an increase overall health as well. The real danger here is a sedentary lifestyle. Start walking/jogging, lift weights, or play a sport. Literally do anything active that does not add to the time spent sitting or sedentary. Your body will thank you.
STEP 3. Stretch!
Stretching is a great way to address the muscles that shorten over time due to sitting. We have put together these 5 movements pictured below that help to combat the body’s adaptations to prolonged sitting and restore a natural and correct posture.
1. McKenzie Exercises:
The patient lays flat on the floor and extends the spine by pressing into the floor with hands. If the patient can not maintain anterior hip contact with the floor while on the hands, patient may modify this position to resting on their elbows.
2. T-Spine Extensions:
The patient lays on a foam roller or pillow placed just below the bottom of the shoulder blade. Patient then actively extends the spine while keeping the butt on the floor.
3. Hip Flexor Stretch:
The patient starts in a single leg kneeling position. Stretch is achieved by engaging the core and posterior hip and slightly rocking forward until a stretch id felt in the anterior hip and thigh.
4. Pec Stretch:
Patient holds a door frame or other vertical structure and turns the body away until a stretch is felt over the anterior shoulder and chest.
5. Chin Tucks:
Patient stands against a wall and actively brings the chin back into the neck until the head makes gentle contact with the wall. Patient may also cue proper form by pressing lightly on the front of the chin with two fingers.
You will be pleasantly surprised what a little bit of activity and stretching can do for pain. And as always, if the pain is beyond self-care, do not hesitate to give us a call.