Besides lifting heavy objects or using highly repetitive motions, inactivity is another common source of back pain at work, according to Mayo Clinic. Most offices are not equipped with ergonomic chairs or work stations, making you susceptible to back pain and discomfort if you sit for long periods. One thing you can do is take occasional breaks. A wedge-shaped cushion can also ease pressure on your lumbar region. But one of the best ways to enhance your spine health at the office is to perform one or more of the following exercises several times per week.
Seated Spinal Stretch
You can easily perform this exercise while facing your desk. But make sure you plant both feet on the floor in front of you and sit up straight for maximum results. Start by stretching your arms straight above your head. Act like you’re reaching for the ceiling and really stretch the muscles in your back. Hold that position for 10 or 15 seconds, then relax. Try to increase the duration to 30 seconds or more. Repeat three to five times. Now, place your left hand on your desk, and while grabbing the back of your chair with your right hand, twist your body to the right — without moving the chair. Maintain that position for 10 to 15 seconds, then repeat the same movement on the opposite side, twisting your body to the left. The seated or sitting spinal stretch increases both strength and flexibility in your back, according to Forbes, which can improve the health of your spin.
Seated Leg Lifts
Turn your chair away from your desk and lean against the backrest. While keeping your legs straight, slowly raise them both up about eighteen inches off the floor. Hold that position for five or ten seconds, then relax. Perform between five and ten repetitions. You will feel this exercise in your lower back, but it’s also designed to work your abdominal muscles. The Joint Chiropractic said, “In order to have a healthy spine, you must work all the core muscles in your body.”
Hip Flexor Stretch
Your hip flexor muscles, which extend from your pelvis to your femur, can also tighten and cause pain during long periods of sitting, according to ABC News. To exercise this region, place your left hand against the wall while facing it. Now, grab your right foot and pull it toward your right buttock. Slowly move your right knee back until you feel the tension in your right thigh. Hold that movement for five to eight seconds, then move your knee forwad to the starting position. Perform 10 repetitions of this exercise, then do 10 with your left leg, placing your right hand against the wall.
The best way to improve spine health at work is to exercise your entire back. The shoulder shrug works your trapezius muscles, which are located below your neck on both sides of your upper back. While sitting in a chair, shrug your shoulders upward and hold that position for three to five seconds. Lower your arms back down. Perform between 10 and 20 reps of the shoulder shrug. You can also do this exercise while standing.
When you slouch your shoulders for long periods at work, it can cause aches and pains in the middle of your back. To alleviate or prevent these symptoms, strengthen your back with some one-arm rows. You will need some light dumbbells — 10 to 20 pounds when starting out — to perform this exercise. Turn your chair around so the back of it is against your desk. Place your left hand on your desk directly behind the back of the chair. With your left knee on the chair, reach down and pull the dumbbell up toward your chest, then lower it back down. Here’s a diagram of what the exercise looks like on a bench, according to Muscle & Strength. Your position will be a bit more upright in the chair, but this places less stress on your lower back. Perform 10 to 12 repetitions, then switch the dumbbell to your left hand and do the same. Do up to three sets with each arm.