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Working At Desk = Back Pain (help!)


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#1 OFFLINE   PatrickMeniru

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 12:31 AM

I'm usually a pretty active person and don't tend to spend long stints sitting over a computer or books - I try to take breaks after ever 3 hours or so, and don't tend to work more than two sessions a day if you average it out over a 7 day week.  However, my finals are approaching and as a result I've been spending a lot longer in the library revising.

 

The library chairs are not office desk chairs by any stretch of the imagination and after a few weeks I've been finding that my mid and upper back are feeling very tight and slightly sore e- sensation similar to DOMs but milder.  Realised that it's probably something to do with spending significantly more time at a desk and was wondering if any board members who work desk jobs or have experienced similar problems could offer any advice about how to overcome the problem.

 

Any and all advice welcome!



#2 OFFLINE   hellswindstaff

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 03:33 AM

I'm usually a pretty active person and don't tend to spend long stints sitting over a computer or books - I try to take breaks after ever 3 hours or so, and don't tend to work more than two sessions a day if you average it out over a 7 day week.  However, my finals are approaching and as a result I've been spending a lot longer in the library revising.

 

The library chairs are not office desk chairs by any stretch of the imagination and after a few weeks I've been finding that my mid and upper back are feeling very tight and slightly sore e- sensation similar to DOMs but milder.  Realised that it's probably something to do with spending significantly more time at a desk and was wondering if any board members who work desk jobs or have experienced similar problems could offer any advice about how to overcome the problem.

 

Any and all advice welcome!

Sometimes I'm studying 50+ hours a week and back pain had been an issue for me in past semesters where I was taking 18+ hours. Daily bridging[think spinal positioning and hip flexor/ psoas stretch] and forward bending[for hamstrings] has helped me tremendously. Also a spinal decompression would help alleviate the immediate back pain. Your hips are probably out of line due to tight hips and hamstrings causing compression at the lumbar.



#3 OFFLINE   Jedd Johnson

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 04:06 AM

You should stand up every 20 minutes actually...



#4 OFFLINE   Cannon

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 05:25 AM

My work was able to convert my desk to a standing desk and I can't even tell you how much it has helped. 


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#5 OFFLINE   Shoggoth

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 06:41 AM

I work seated all day as well and think working deads, GM's, etc. that open the hips and extend the back help a lot vs being in a state of flexion all of the time.



#6 OFFLINE   bubba29

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 07:19 AM

My work was able to convert my desk to a standing desk and I can't even tell you how much it has helped. 

 

i do the same thing....i love it.  would be hard to reproduce at a library.  bottom line is, standing is much better than sitting.



#7 OFFLINE   KRC

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 10:07 AM

+1 for standing desk.  There's also an article on T-Nation called "Deconstructing Computer Guy" or something like that that has good info.  



#8 OFFLINE   Mighty Joe

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Posted 26 April 2013 - 04:48 PM

I'm usually a pretty active person and don't tend to spend long stints sitting over a computer or books - I try to take breaks after ever 3 hours or so, and don't tend to work more than two sessions a day if you average it out over a 7 day week.  However, my finals are approaching and as a result I've been spending a lot longer in the library revising.

 

The library chairs are not office desk chairs by any stretch of the imagination and after a few weeks I've been finding that my mid and upper back are feeling very tight and slightly sore e- sensation similar to DOMs but milder.  Realised that it's probably something to do with spending significantly more time at a desk and was wondering if any board members who work desk jobs or have experienced similar problems could offer any advice about how to overcome the problem.

 

Any and all advice welcome!

Sometimes I'm studying 50+ hours a week and back pain had been an issue for me in past semesters where I was taking 18+ hours. Daily bridging[think spinal positioning and hip flexor/ psoas stretch] and forward bending[for hamstrings] has helped me tremendously. Also a spinal decompression would help alleviate the immediate back pain. Your hips are probably out of line due to tight hips and hamstrings causing compression at the lumbar.

I agree here!

 

Your hip flexors become shortened when you sit all day long, every day. In a shortened state there's compensatory patterns

that start to develop and next thing you know you have a full blown dysfunction. Stretching the hip flexors daily along with foam rolling

the piriformis will work wonders! Can't recommend foam rolling enough here or some other form of MFR.

 

Hope this helps and good luck!.



#9 OFFLINE   PatrickMeniru

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Posted 27 April 2013 - 12:31 AM

Thanks guys!  Whilst sadly a standing desk isn't on option for me at the moment I'll definitely take some time to walk about every 20-30 minutes and do some rolling and stretching as well as movements that counter the effects being hunched over books.  Guess this stuff will be very useful for when I start real work (as opposed to being a full-time student).



#10 OFFLINE   kyleec

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 10:03 AM

Regarding all things back--performance, prehabd, and rehab--there is no better source of information than Stuart McGill. He's performed a staggering number of studies and bases all his conclusions on hard data. There's no one way to help someone with a back injury, but i strongly recommend reading his book Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance. It's a gamechanger in the way you train. I've had a bad back injury myself andmi work with people with bad backs all day, and McGill is the man when it comes to fixing them.

I'd like to add that much of his recommendations are contrary to popular wisdom, but based on his clinical research. For example, rolling the back out on a roller or ball would give him chills. It's better to build mobility at the hips and shoulders than loosen the back. Do soft tissue work on glutes, hams, hip flexors, etc. instead.

Edited by kyleec, 30 April 2013 - 10:06 AM.


#11 OFFLINE   Jedd Johnson

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 10:32 AM

Cressey says the same thing about not addressing the back, but rather addressing the hips and other parts that contribute to the back.

 

If you roll the back, you are addressing the symptom, not the cause.

 

It's like taking aspirin for a headache caused by eye glare.  The aspirin isn't going to modify the angle of the light source or the computer screen...which is what you actually would need to address.



#12 OFFLINE   barbe705

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 09:28 AM

even if you can't get a standing desk you can mod some things to mix it up.  I've been doing a good bit of work kneeling at a desk.  not ideal but, it does seem to help.



#13 OFFLINE   rico300zx

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Posted 17 May 2013 - 04:21 PM

We just talked about this at work the other day, the physical therapist said
Sit up straight if you slouch it être he's the soft tissue in your back, sitting up strait strengthens it. Same when driving home sit up strait don't relax, relax when you sleep.
Rico

#14 OFFLINE   PatrickMeniru

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 12:16 AM

Kyleec:  Thanks very much, I haven't come across his stuff so I'll be sure to check it out as soon as I can find a bit of time to do so.  Hip flexors are definitely a mobility weakness more me after doing a lot of sprinting/long-jumping.

 

Jedd: Completely agree, the best physio I've ever had the good luck to see often talks about referred pain and more importantly mobility and strength deficits in one area causing trouble elsewhere.

Barbe: I've taken to standing up very regularly and stretching before I go to the library.  I'm going into a profession where I'll be spending a lot of time at a desk, so I'll look into alternative arrangements like standing etc. before then.

Rico: Thanks, I've definitely found something similar over the past weeks, I now endeavour to bring books towards my face rather than vice-versa, and to use my eyes to look down as much as possible rather than tilting the neck/back excessively.

 

Everyone's comments have been really useful, my back has been feeling much better recently, just two weeks until I finish exams.  Can't wait!


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#15 OFFLINE   speedy

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 01:33 PM

Just posting my approach with the same issues and I pulled muscles in my back 3x's. I found the key to stop the back pain (assuming it's due to a weak core or/and back spasms) is a strong core. I know on this forum I am going to get flamed for this but as gay as this sounds, I used Pilates DVD. I know I know...but it was a gift from god I am telling you. I never felt better since. I now do a combination of that DVD and core exercises from Ross's book Never Gymless and no more issues. But there are back issues that require medical attention so use your best judgement.

 

 

I'm usually a pretty active person and don't tend to spend long stints sitting over a computer or books - I try to take breaks after ever 3 hours or so, and don't tend to work more than two sessions a day if you average it out over a 7 day week.  However, my finals are approaching and as a result I've been spending a lot longer in the library revising.

 

The library chairs are not office desk chairs by any stretch of the imagination and after a few weeks I've been finding that my mid and upper back are feeling very tight and slightly sore e- sensation similar to DOMs but milder.  Realised that it's probably something to do with spending significantly more time at a desk and was wondering if any board members who work desk jobs or have experienced similar problems could offer any advice about how to overcome the problem.

 

Any and all advice welcome!



#16 OFFLINE   PatrickMeniru

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Posted 21 June 2013 - 04:02 PM

 

Just posting my approach with the same issues and I pulled muscles in my back 3x's. I found the key to stop the back pain (assuming it's due to a weak core or/and back spasms) is a strong core. I know on this forum I am going to get flamed for this but as gay as this sounds, I used Pilates DVD. I know I know...but it was a gift from god I am telling you. I never felt better since. I now do a combination of that DVD and core exercises from Ross's book Never Gymless and no more issues. But there are back issues that require medical attention so use your best judgement.

 

 

I'm usually a pretty active person and don't tend to spend long stints sitting over a computer or books - I try to take breaks after ever 3 hours or so, and don't tend to work more than two sessions a day if you average it out over a 7 day week.  However, my finals are approaching and as a result I've been spending a lot longer in the library revising.

 

The library chairs are not office desk chairs by any stretch of the imagination and after a few weeks I've been finding that my mid and upper back are feeling very tight and slightly sore e- sensation similar to DOMs but milder.  Realised that it's probably something to do with spending significantly more time at a desk and was wondering if any board members who work desk jobs or have experienced similar problems could offer any advice about how to overcome the problem.

 

Any and all advice welcome!

 

Thanks for the advice man, I think that exercise regimes like yoga and pilates can benefit all sorts of people, from middle aged women to top class athletes.  If I had more patience and time on my hands I would do more myself.

As far as core strength goes, I completely agree that a strong core is vital to avoiding back pain, but I must confess that I think it is unlikely that it was the source of my particular problem.  There are many areas that I would like to become stronger in, but core isn't really a problem area for me at the moment.

 

Thankfully now my finals are well and truly over, so I won't have to be working in the same environment again anytime soon - although I will have more exams next year and the year afterward, so all your tips will doubtless prove invaluable then.



#17 OFFLINE   Arturo

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 08:08 AM

 

Just posting my approach with the same issues and I pulled muscles in my back 3x's. I found the key to stop the back pain (assuming it's due to a weak core or/and back spasms) is a strong core. I know on this forum I am going to get flamed for this but as gay as this sounds, I used Pilates DVD. I know I know...but it was a gift from god I am telling you. I never felt better since. I now do a combination of that DVD and core exercises from Ross's book Never Gymless and no more issues. But there are back issues that require medical attention so use your best judgement.

 

 

 

speedy: this may be a "strength" forum but you should NOT get flamed for posting that. Personally, I agree with you 100%. You have discovered something that the vast majority of people can't wrap their heads around. A strong core would solve a HUGE amount of all back-pain sufferers out there. But you talk about a strong mid-section and people go crunching, doing weighed sit-ups, ab-crunches on the cable machine... all sort of spinal-flexion movements which Dr. Stuart McGill has been advising (and backing up with research) for many, many years to stop doing. The key is developing stability in the lumbo-pelvic region. Many seemingly strong men, and I'm talking about buff-looking guys, muscular and with a six-pack, who have been working out for years and even doing what they call "ab work", when tested specifically are horrible at core stability exercises (even if they excel at weighted situps or other forms of weighed hip flexion/spinal flexion moves). I too found out about all this the hard way. Years of reading the research and understanding the function of the "core" led me to the same conclusion as you. And no, the Pilates thing is not "gay" at all, many men (includind avid weight lifters) are so unstable that they need to begin with the most basic, girly-looking drills in their quest to obtaining stability in their lumbo-pelvic region. Of course, eventually I feel one can move on with progressions and after a while (a long while) the drills can be quite tough. But most people need to start MUCH lower than they think. Anyways sorry for the long rant, just backing up what you wrote.



#18 Guest_Squat More_*

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Posted 22 June 2013 - 08:32 PM

I had this problem as I work in a school with kids and am constantly sitting down helping them with their school work. I fixed it by stretching my hip flexors, with and without bands. The psoas muscle can really pull your lower back into an over exaggerated arch causing pain, so can tight glutes. Everyone here has pretty much said the same thing I would post.

So invest in a foam roller, start stretching, and another thing I have recently done is to wear 5# ankle weights through my work day, when ever I go for a walk I get some slight traction on my hips and lower back, which has really seriously helped in mobility, back health and in my squat and deadlift training... along with letting the weightlifting belt collect dust, even for work sets.



#19 OFFLINE   Arturo

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 06:07 AM

Squat More:

 

Right on. But since we're on the topic let me add an interesting bit of info to what you said: quite a few authors, the ones treating people and clients and following the latest research, are now thinking that stretching a muscle only works SOMEtimes. Allow me to explain: if your hip flexors, for example, only got tight because of too much sitting, then yes, stretching can help. But take the psoas, for example, which you mentioned. When a part of the body is weak, like some "core" muscles, others tighten to provide stability in joints. The psoas is a perfect example of this. It tightens in a lot of people to provide stability in the lumbo-pelvic region, when some of the deep abdominal muscles aren't doing their job well. In this case, stretching it over and over wont really help, the body tightens it back up in order to provide stability... it's not optimal, but it's the best the body can do, it will always try to protect itself. In this case, strengthening what needs to be strong will "magically" allow the tight muscles to finally be released. This is why millions of people stretch for years with no results and never realize just why they can't stretch their way to health and wellness. Just adding two more cents, that's all :D



#20 OFFLINE   speedy

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 07:33 AM

Slightly off topic: did any of you get that book written by the doctor who was trying to say that 80 to 90% of the time back pain is mental, and it's caused by stress and all that jazz. After a few chapters I closed the book and left it with my family that is into that new age stuff. I do agree the more stress I get the more spasms I get in the back and knots in my shoulder, but I didn't need a degree to know that. But I stick to my original suggestion assuming his symptoms match that. Keep in mind, back pain varies reason to reason and some cases it truly requires medical attention like a slip disc. Not saying that is the case, but we as members need to be open minded for we can suggest this and that but keep in mind, our suggestions will work depending on the root cause of the issue. We can't just say do squats, or do pilates, or do whatever for we just know what the poster posted. He might have left out that he was diagnosed with back injury. Well if someone has back injury I sure as hell not going to say throw on a barbell onto your shoulders and do some squats. Just thought from a different angle.

 

Is it Friday yet?