Why working at a desk causes upper back pain and other pain
Working at a desk for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, can start to hurt your back. Sitting for long periods of time causes tension, stiffness, and discomfort in your back, shoulders, and neck. Back pain can also increase for those with poor posture or for those who are physically inactive at and away from the office. Poor posture can overstretch your spinal ligaments and put extra, unwanted stress on your spinal discs. And being physically inactive compresses the intervertebral discs in your spine. These things can cause bulging discs, sciatica, and more unwanted back pain. Other things that contribute to back pain from office work include stress and an unhealthy lifestyle.
The good news is that most back pain is short term, and if you take care of yourself, it can go away quickly. Keep reading for tips on how to help your back pain go away with self-care.
Why it is important to stretch at your desk
Taking a short break to stretch at your desk every hour could make the difference between back pain and no back pain. Developing this healthy habit of stretching and following the instructions below will help you reduce your back pain now and in the future. Another great bonus is that stretching can also help you feel refreshed and awake when you’re feeling sleepy at your desk.
Desk Stretching Routine for Back Pain Relief
Step 1: Use the Deep Tissue Chirp Wheel+ as a posture corrector.
Use the Chirp Wheel to maintain good posture while sitting down.
- The Deep Tissue Chirp Wheel+ is small enough to fit in the small of your back when you’re sitting down in your office chair. Sitting with the wheel between you and your chair will help you sit up straight by reinforcing the natural curvature in your spine while pushing your shoulders back.
Step 2: Roll out on all three wheels to release tension in your back. What’s the difference between each size wheel? Read here to find out.
How to stretch with the Chirp Wheels:
Sit and lean back.
- Sit on the ground with knees bent and feet firmly planted.
- Place the Chirp Wheel+ against your back in alignment with your spine. Take some time to center yourself and find balance even on the ground.
- Lean back gently to transfer your weight to the wheel. Relax and find balance in this position before lifting your hips.
- Rest your hands on the ground, the wheel, or your chest for balance. Do whichever feels the most comfortable for you.
- Lift your hips upward while relaxing your back. Find balance with your hips lifted before rolling on the wheel.
- Don’t tense up! The more you relax your back, the better it will feel.
Roll back and forth.
- Begin to roll back and forth on the wheel by bending and straightening your legs. Use your hands for balance. If one spot on your back needs an extra massage, stop rolling to put pressure on that spot. Or switch to a smaller wheel.
- Roll out for 3 to 5 minutes. Length of preferred use will vary by individual.
- Relax your head back to avoid neck pain. Rolling on the wheel can also help stretch out your abdomen after a hard core workout.
Step 3: Roll against the wall.
Rolling against the wall can be a nice alternative to rolling out on the ground, especially if it is difficult for you to get down on the ground because of knee pain or another issue.
Step 4: Roll out your lower body.
Read this article to see how to roll out your lower body for pain relief. Rolling out your lower extremities can help you relieve tension in your lower back, helping to reduce back pain.
Step 5: Stretch for extra relief
- Simply place your hands behind your head and rest back over the wheel.
- Try a few different variations with your legs bent, straight out, or in a butterfly position.
- Relax for 30 seconds or longer.
- To begin, get on your hands and knees.
- Bend your knees to put your butt to the heels of your feet, and reach your hands forward.
- For the regular pose, let your hands rest on the ground. If you want a deeper stretch, let your hands rest on the top of the Chirp Wheel+.
- Let your body sink into the ground.
- Ensure you have good balance before taking your hands off the ground or the wheel.
- Stop rolling, open your arms out like an airplane, and relax for 30 seconds or more.
- You can also try lifting your arms up and back to get a deeper chest stretch.
Full Body Stretch
- As you roll out, stop the wheel in your mid back.
- Relax your head back until it touches the ground, and reach your arms up and back to rest on the ground by your head.
- Slowly straighten your legs out forward.
- Relax. Hold this position for 30 seconds or more.
Butterfly Forward Fold
- Sit cross-legged or in the butterfly position (with your feet together and your knees out wide).
- Place the Chirp Wheel in front of you.
- Place your hands on top of the wheel and roll the wheel forward as you lean into a stretch. This will open up your shoulders, hips, and lower back.
Other tips for avoiding back pain at the office
- Set up an ergonomic workspace. To make sure your workspace won’t give you back pain, make sure your computer is at the level of your eyes so you don’t have to look up or down at the screen. Your knees should also be slightly lower than your hips, with your feet touching the ground. Invest in a comfortable chair that you love (It doesn’t have to be a name brand chair; it just needs to be right for you). Doing these simple things can make a big difference.
- Get up at least once every hour. Getting up at least once every hour will help stretch your muscles and avoid muscle tension. Use your stretching time to roll on the wheels for the quickest, deepest stretch.
- Practice good posture. Use the Chirp Wheel as a posture corrector in your chair. And remember to practice good posture whether you are sitting, standing, or walking.
- Strengthen your core in your free time. Using your free time to strengthen your core will make it easier for you to practice good posture. A strong core helps keep your spine in proper alignment.
- Eat healthy. Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, and healthy grains will ensure your body has the nutrients it needs to heal when you have an injured back or a strained muscle.
- Stand up whenever you can. Stand up when you’re on the phone, eating a snack, or meeting a colleague for a quick meeting. Taking opportunities to change positions will help reduce your back pain.
Healthline Editorial Team. (2020, May 5). Stretches to do at work every day. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/deskercise#upper-body
Readers. (n.d.). 9 desk stretches for people who sit all day. Retrieved from https://www.readers.com/blog/9-desk-stretches-for-office/
Spine Institute of North America. (2019, January 31). Back pain at the office. Retrieved from https://spineina.com/blog/back-pain-at-the-office/