3 easy chair exercises to prevent back pain

Work Wisdom

3 easy chair exercises to prevent back pain

How many hours do you sit at work each day?

Four hours? How about six or more?

Sitting is the most common posture in the modern workplace — and in some professions, people spend almost their entire workday affixed to an office chair. That’s bad news: Prolonged sitting has been shown to wear on your lower back.

Research shows more than 25% of workers are affected by lower back problems. It’s become an important public health problem in all industrialized countries. Some even say sitting is the new smoking.

Taylor Eubank, a health and wellbeing consultant at Unum, says sedentary work styles can even lead to injury.

“Prolonged sitting can lead to muscle tightness and weakness in the core, back and hips, which can strain your lower back,” Taylor said. “Strengthening and stretching these areas is important to keep you injury-free and productive at work.”

Unum, like many leading companies, offers employees standing options for work. But what if you don’t have that choice — or you just prefer to sit?

Here are three easy exercises you can do at your chair to strengthen your core muscles to take the pressure off your lower back and spinal column (Disclaimer: You might look like a goofball doing these at your work station).

1. Crunch kicks

While in your chair, move forward to the front half. Hold on to either side to stabilize yourself. Then, lean back slightly — at this point, you should feel your abs and core engaged. Bring both your knees toward your chest. Hold for one second, and push your legs back out, keeping your feet more than a foot off the ground.

Start with five of these. Add one or two weekly.

Click here to see a video demonstration.

2. Knee to elbows

Repeat the start position of the first exercise: Sit in the front half of your chair and lean slightly backward. This time, bend your knees together at a 90-degree angle and start with your feet about six inches off the ground. Put your hands behind your head. Lean further back so you lightly touch the back of your chair, then move your upper torso forward as you bring your right knee back to touch your left elbow. Do the same with your left knee and right elbow now.

Start with 10 of these. Add five each week.

Click here to see a video demonstration.

3. Flutter kicks

Assume the same position as with the past two exercises. Raise your legs about a foot off the ground and slightly scissor kick as if you’re swimming.

Do these quickly 30 times. Add 10 each week.

Click here to see a video demonstration.

Start slowly and build your strength. With time, your core exercises will become a breeze, and you’ll be able to stave off back pain and maintain a healthy posture.

And here’s a bonus tip from Taylor for another way to prevent back strain:

“Taking periodic breaks and stretching are great for both your physical and mental wellbeing,” Taylor said. “Try a quick walk to grab water between meetings or even stretching during a phone meeting at your desk.”

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