We've talked about ergonomics a lot, but what do you do when don't follow all the proper seating and desk advice, and end up working in a poor position that leads to much back pain? Pain killers help, but they don't go as far towards a permanent resolution as specific exercises and changing your workstation. Since we have already talked quite a bit about the ergonomic home office, we will focus on what exercises help soothe and prevent back pain.
After waking up yet again with terrible pain in my lower back I went to see the doctor who proceeded to chastise me soundly for my non-ergonomic work setup. He reminded me that I am not alone and that he sees many folks with similar pain issues that have been hunched over their computers for hours. His advice was of course to change how I use my computer but also to perform several back exercises.
He's not alone in giving this advise and we found an entire section devoted to lower back pain exercises on WebMD. Some of the suggested exercises include:
- Relax & Rest: This exercise involves lying on your back with a rolled towel under your neck and a pillow under your knees. Extend your arms and try to relax and breathe normally. Stay in this position for ten minutes.
- Backward Bend: For this exercise you stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointing forward. Place your hands on your back, palms at your waist. Lengthen up through your spine, all the way through the crown of your head. Keeping your legs straight (but no locking knees), bend backward over your hands without arching your neck. Hold the pose for 1 to 2 seconds.
- Piriformis Stretch: While on your back bend your right knee so that your right foot is flat on the floor. Cross your left leg over your right so that your left ankle rests on your right knee. Use your hands to grab hold of your left knee and pull it gently toward the opposite shoulder. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.
- Front Plank: Start from resting on your knees and elbows, then straighten your legs, one at a time, so that you are supporting your body on your elbows and toes. Hold for 6 seconds. Over time, build up to 30 seconds.
Another great source for lower back pain relieving exercises is from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons which suggest moves like Ankle Pumps in which you lie on your back and move your ankles up repeatedly and Heel Slides where you slowly bend and straighten your knee while on your back. The Mayo Clinic also has a slideshow which shows back exercises that can be performed in 15 minutes a day.
While these exercises might not be the most fun, I can personally attest to them being very helpful in relieving lower back pain. Of course the best thing to do after exercising is to get serious about the ergonomics of your computer usage to prevent future back pain.
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(Images: Flickr members Jessica Lucia & Matt Woolner licensed for use under Creative Commons)