Back pain, especially lower back pain, is extremely common, brought on by movement, activity or even the opposite. Staying in a seated position throughout the day in a less-than-optimal desk chair or car seat can bring on the pain.
Physical Therapist Heather Harrison of OrthoCarolina Huntersville has seen her fair share of patients with back pain and she often recommends using a chair with lumbar support. But even if your chair has built-in support, Heather says one size doesn’t fit all.
For a little extra support, try rolling up a jacket, sweatshirt or towel to place behind your back. When you’re in a bind, Heather says this simple step can help support the natural curvature of the lumbar spine.
Still feeling that lower back pain? You can do these exercises right from your desk chair:
ABDOMINAL BRACING 10 x 10 seconds
Begin in a seated position with hands on your lower abs. With a slow, controlled movement, draw your navel to your spine, bracing your abdominal muscles. Hold, then relax.
Be sure to keep your tall posture throughout the exercise, avoiding bending forward or holding your breath.
SEATED MARCHES WITH ABDOMINAL BRACING 30 repetitions
Throughout the exercise, remain seated in your chair with a straight back and abs braced by pulling the navel to the spine.
Your knees stay bent as you pick one leg up off the ground, lower it back down and alternate with the other leg.
SEATED FORWARD FLEXION STRETCH 3 x 30 seconds
Begin seated in your chair with feet on the ground at shoulder width.
Keeping your back straight, bend forward as far as you can. Your arms will hang towards the floor.
STANDING REPEATED LUMBAR EXTENSIONS 2 x 10
From a standing position, place your hands on your hips. Slowly and with control, lean your trunk backward to the first point of stiffness or pain, then return to an upright position.
Pay attention to keeping your balance throughout the stretch. Knees should remain straight.
SEATED FIGURE FOUR STRETCH 3 x 30 seconds
While sitting upright in your chair with feet on the ground, lift one foot and bring it to rest on the opposite knee.
Lean forward gently until you feel the stretch. Keep your back straight and hold this position.
SEATED KNEE TO OPPOSITE SHOULDER 3 x 30 seconds
Sit upright in your chair with feet on the ground. Cross one leg over the other so the ankle rests on the opposite thigh.
Pull the raised knee across your body towards the opposite shoulder, keeping a straight back.
CHAIR-EDGE HAMSTRING STRETCH
3 x 30 seconds
Begin seated on the edge of your chair with one foot on the ground while bringing the other straight forward in front of you, heel resting on the ground.
Hinge at the hips and lean forward until you feel the stretch, then hold the position. Keep your back and extended knee straight throughout, then switch legs.