Stand up! When you sit for long periods of time, the lower back extensor muscles’the ones attached to the back of the spine that help you stand and lift objects’become fatigued, says Craig McNamee, who is a chiropractor and owner of Catalyst Health in Toronto.
There’s a word for that lower back pain people get from sitting at a desk all day: creep. ‘Believe it or not, ‘creep’ is a technical term; it refers to the lengthening of any tissue of the body when low levels of stress are applied over an extended period of time,‘ McNamee says. In addition, this places stress on the surrounding ligaments, nerves and discs’potentially increasing the risk of future injury.
What can you do to avoid this? Easy answer: Get out of your chair and stretch frequently.
Stand with feet together, and place both hands against your lower back. Take a deep breath and, as you exhale slowly, arch your back to the point where you feel the stretch in the lower and mid-back area, but not to the point of discomfort. Hold this position for 15 to 20 seconds, and repeat two or three times.
‘This stretch should be performed multiple times throughout the day,’ McNamee says. ‘It serves as a reset button, decreasing strain in your lower back area. It can improve athletic performance. And keeping these muscles loose improves posture, too.’