Article by Jessica Darmago
Many of us know that terrible feeling of a stiff, sore and aching back after a long day of work. Spending extended hours seated behind a desk can take a toll on your body and your health. Low back pain is a major health problem and it effects more people than you would think. Two thirds of adults suffer from low back pain during their life (ref 1), and it is the most common cause of work-related disability in individuals under the age of 45 (ref 2).
What is LBP and how is it caused?
The cause of LBP is not fully understood but it is thought to be a cause of multiple factors.
Work-related risk factors include:
- Long term computer usage (ref 3)
- Poor work ergonomics (ref 4)
- Poor posture – sustained forward sitting posture for more than half a work day (ref 5)
- High stress (ref 6)
Other factors include:
- Low back muscle endurance (ref 7)
- Reduced lumbar stability (ref 8)
- Decrease trunk mobility (ref 9)
What can we do about it?
Lucky for us, there is one simple thing we can do to reduce these risk factors and assist in reducing low back pain…it’s exercise! Even small bouts of exercise throughout the day can help reduce stiffness and soreness. Try breaking up the time seated at your desk by going for a quick 5-minute walk and doing some light stretches to reset your body and mind.
Research has shown that participating in regular Yoga classes can help to reduce stress, maintain good posture and increase mobility – which all assist in reducing low back pain! (ref 10) Pilates classes have also shown similar benefits in reducing low back pain and improving function (ref 11) as it focuses on trunk stabilisation, abdominal strengthening and postural awareness to open up those hunched computer shoulders and reset the body.
At O2 Active we offer a range of classes with our qualified exercise physiologists and instructors that can assist in preventing and reducing low back pain. Whether it is our yoga, Pilates, Bootcamps or personal training sessions – you’ll be sure to get your body moving and functioning better!
- Frymoyer, J. W., Ducker, T. B., Hadler, N. M., & Kostuik, J. P. (1997). The adult spine: principles and practice. Lippincott-Raven Publishers.
- Andersson, G. B. (1999). Epidemiological features of chronic low-back pain. The lancet, 354(9178), 581-585.
- Ortiz-Hernández, L., Tamez-González, S., Martı́nez-Alcántara, S., & Méndez-Ramı́rez, I. (2003). Computer use increases the risk of musculoskeletal disorders among newspaper office workers. Archives of medical research, 34(4), 331-342.
- Spyropoulos, P., Papathanasiou, G., Georgoudis, G., Chronopoulos, E., Koutis, H., & Koumoutsou, F. (2007). Prevalence of low back pain in Greek public office workers. Pain physician, 10(5), 651.
- Lis, A. M., Black, K. M., Korn, H., & Nordin, M. (2007). Association between sitting and occupational LBP. European Spine Journal, 16(2), 283-298.
- Socio-psychological stressors as risk factors for low back pain in Chinese middle-aged women
- Hamberg-van Reenen, H. H., Ariens, G. A. M., Blatter, B. M., Twisk, J. W. R., Van Mechelen, W., & Bongers, P. M. (2006). Physical capacity in relation to low back, neck, or shoulder pain in a working population. Occupational and environmental medicine, 63(6), 371-377.
- Inefficient muscular stabilization of the lumbar spine associated with low back pain. A motor control evaluation of transversus abdominis
- Adams, M. A., Mannion, A. F., & Dolan, P. (1999). Personal risk factors for first-time low back pain. Spine, 24(23), 2497.
- Sherman, K. J., Cherkin, D. C., Erro, J., Miglioretti, D. L., & Deyo, R. A. (2005). Comparing yoga, exercise, and a self-care book for chronic low back pain: a randomized, controlled trial. Annals of internal medicine, 143(12), 849-856.
- Wajswelner, H., Metcalf, B., & Bennell, K. (2012). Clinical Pilates versus general exercise for chronic low back pain: randomized trial. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 44(7), 1197-1205.