For most people, working at home is a dream come true. But if you experience chronic lower back pain that interferes with your daily productivity, take action fast. Lower back pain develops when you sit at your desk for long hours without the proper breaks. Eventually, your lower back pain creates other problems for your body. Here's why you have lower back pain and how to get rid of it.
What Happens If You Sit Too Long?
According to the Mayo Clinic, sitting for long periods of time increases your risk for many health problems, including heart problems and obesity. It can also cause poor blood circulation in the lower body.
The blood in your feet, ankles and calves flows upward in your body to reach your heart. When you sit for a long time, the blood inside your blood vessels forms small pools or bulges that press against the nerves and other tissues of your legs.
Your back hurts because the large sciatic nerve that travels through your legs, hips and lower back pinches flat from the bulging blood vessels. The pain begins as a small twinge in your toes and feet, then gradually spreads to your ankles and calves.
After awhile, you feel discomfort in your hips and in the areas between your upper thighs and buttocks. Eventually, the pain radiates throughout your lower back, which is where the sciatic nerve in your lower body originates.
Sometimes, the blood vessels swell up until they poke through your skin. For example, you can see the vessels in your shin, ankles and tops of your feet after sitting through a long shift. If you look carefully, you even notice small, bluish-purple spider veins in your thighs and calves.
In addition, your feet swell up with fluids that spread to your ankles. When you stand up, the fluid presses against the nerves in your ankles until pain develops in your hips, buttocks and back.
Fatigue sets in because your heart and lungs can't receive the oxygenated blood they require to function properly due to your poor circulation. If you become overly tired, you make your back pain worse by slouching in your chair, hunching your shoulders and straining your neck.
If you want to avoid the health complications above, change how often you take breaks.
How Do You Get Through Work Without Pain?
A number of sources recommend that you stand up for at least two hours during work instead of spend the entire shift sitting down. Standing helps the pooling blood in your lower body flow to your heart properly. It also reduces swelling in your feet and ankles by encouraging the lymph nodes to empty out their fluids.
If standing up is impossible for you because of other health issues, such as poor vision or carpal tunnel, take a 20-minute break every two hours to alleviate your back pain. But use your breaks wisely. What you do during your breaks makes all the difference in how well your lower back feels afterward.
To increase the blood circulation in your lower body, alleviate stress on your sciatic nerve and reduce fluids in your feet and ankles, you need to stretch your legs. Here's a simple but effective way to reduce your pain:
- Move a chair to the center of your home office. Choose a chair that you can hold onto easily without bending your back.
- Stand near the back of the chair, then place the hand closest to the chair on it. Look straight ahead with your chin raised slightly and tuck in your buttocks.
- Pull your shoulders back. Your chest should lift up and stick out slightly when you do this.
- Take in a deep breath and tighten your abdominal muscles as you do so. You need a strong core to stabilize you during the exercise.
- Place your free hand on your hips, then slowly raise one leg off the floor.
- Flex your toes, then rotate your ankle and foot for 5 seconds.
- Lower your leg, then repeat steps 5 and 6 with the other leg.
Perform this exercise every break time for 10 minutes, or as long as you feel comfortable doing so, for the best results. If you don't see or feel a difference in your pain, schedule an appointment with a back pain specialist for additional back pain treatment.