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Last Updated on April 2, 2020

4 Simple Desk-Based Stretches for Effective Lower Back Pain Relief

4 Simple Desk-Based Stretches for Effective Lower Back Pain Relief

Lower back pain is a massive problem in today’s modern society. Many of us spend a lot of time sitting down at desks whether it’s at work or at home. Office workers in particular, come off worst with 54% of those who work at their desks report suffering from lower back pain due to the sheer amount of time spent sitting in one position and usually with bad posture.

Sitting down not only adds to muscle tension in the back, but add poor posture to that and you have a situation where constriction of blood vessels and nerves cause more lower back pain. This is why lower back pain shouldn’t be overlooked as it can be a complicated health issue with not just one cause – our muscular system adapts easily to how we sit, with our circulatory and nervous system also being affected.

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    4 Easy Desk Exercises To Relieve Lower Back Pain

    Judith Gould is a trained physiotherapist who specialises in how ergonomics at work can help relieve lower back pain. Doing simple exercises at your desk each day can help eliminate lower back pain by stretching the muscles and correcting bad posture. Being mindful of moving throughout the day will go towards better back health so here are 4 exercises that are easy to incorporate into a busy day.

    1. Lower Spine Stretch

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        By doing this exercise, the muscles surrounding the length of the spine will get a good stretch in a sideways direction.

        • With your feet flat on the floor and your armrests low down, sit firmly on your chair making sure your sitting bones are in contact with the seat.
        • Place your right hand on the armrest and reach your left hand up above your head, bending your spine slightly to the right.
        • Hold this position for 30 seconds making sure you breathe into the stretch.
        • Repeat on each side three times.

        2. Long Spinal Stretch

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                This exercise allows your spinal muscles to stretch in a forward motion. It’s important that the muscles get stretched in more than one direction to help restore alignment.

                • In your chair with your sitting bones firmly placed on the seat, place your feet flat on the floor and spread them out wide apart.
                • Sit up straight and tall then slowly slide your hands down your legs until they reach the floor.
                • Place your fingertips on the floor between your feet, and with each breath try to stretch further down until your palms are flat. Don’t worry if you can’t do this, just go as far as is comfortable for you.
                • Hold for 30 seconds and breathe into the stretch.
                • Repeat three times.

                3. Deep Hip Muscle Stretch

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                        Stretching your hip muscles can help relieve lower back pain as they can tighten when sitting for long periods of time and especially when you already suffer from lower back pain. When doing this stretch, be aware of numbness or a pins and needles sensation as this is an indicator that you are over-stretching.

                        • Sit near the edge of your seat with both feet flat on the floor.
                        • Lift up your right ankle and place it on your left thigh just above the knee.
                        • Sitting up straight and tall, slowly bend forward from your hips, keeping your spine nice and straight. This will create a stretch through the back of your right hip.
                        • Hold this position for 30 seconds and slowly come back up remembering to keep your spine straight.
                        • Repeat three times and then repeat with your left ankle on your right thigh.

                        4. Hamstring Reach

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                              We don’t always think about our leg muscles when we have pain in our lower back, but tight hamstring muscles can affect the natural curve of the spine. Loosening them up will go towards relieving your lower back pain.

                              • Sit close to the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the floor.
                              • Sliding your right leg out with your heel to the ground, keep your knee straight and flex your toes up towards your shin.
                              • Start to slowly reach forward towards your toes keeping your back and spine straight.
                              • Hold this position for 30 seconds and repeat three times.
                              • Repeat with your left leg.

                              Five minutes is all it takes to help alleviate and prevent lower back pain. It’s recommended to repeat these exercises once every hour or as often as possible throughout the day if you find yourself sitting a lot at your desk. Always consult with a doctor before doing an exercise regime if you’re suffering from any back pain, but doing these on a regular basis will help align your back and stabilise your muscles and joints.

                              Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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                              Samantha Aloysius

                              Samantha is an everyday health expert with a background in International Public Health and Psychology.

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                              Last Updated on July 10, 2020

                              How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

                              How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

                              We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

                              We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

                              So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

                              Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

                              What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

                              Boundaries are limits

                              —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

                              Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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                              Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

                              Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

                              Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

                              How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

                              Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

                              1. Self-Awareness Comes First

                              Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

                              You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

                              To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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                              You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

                              • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
                              • When do you feel disrespected?
                              • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
                              • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
                              • When do you want to be alone?
                              • How much space do you need?

                              You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

                              2. Clear Communication Is Essential

                              Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

                              Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

                              3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

                              Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

                              That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

                              Sample language:

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                              • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
                              • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
                              • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
                              • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
                              • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
                              • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
                              • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

                              Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

                              4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

                              Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

                              Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

                              Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

                              We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

                              It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

                              It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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                              Final Thoughts

                              Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

                              Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

                              Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

                              The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

                              Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

                              Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

                              They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

                              Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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