Three ways to say “bye bye” to back pain
By David Higgins
Even if you love your career, there are always going to be some aspects of the job that are unappealing. Personally speaking, in my line of work the thing that bothers me the most is sitting for extended periods of time in front of my computer. Even after trying out three different ergonomically designed chairs and ensuring I remain in the most upright position, no matter what I do I still get lower back pain.
The culprit is sitting in front of a computer all day. There is no mystery about how my back pain is caused. It is not from strenuous labor but from countless hours sitting in front of a computer in a chair. At one point the pain was so bad I could barely get out of bed in the morning. It was at this time I reached my breaking point, so I started researching ways to relieve the pain. The first thing I decided to try was massage.
From my research, physicians agree that massage is a good way to relieve back pain. However, the word “relief” is a bit presumptuous. It almost sounds like a cure, but the dictionary meaning of relief is “temporary fix”. So whatever repetitive daily activity you are doing after the massage, possibly the next day, couple days or next week, depending on the type of back pain you are dealing with, the pain will come back. However, when you are in serious pain you just want it to stop, and receiving a massage will give you temporary relief which is a like a gift from heaven.
The next thing I tried was a chiropractor. Although using a chiropractor has mixed opinions on how well it works, from my understanding having your bones aligned in the correct positions sounded like a good idea. The first time I tried it I immediately felt better as soon as I walked out the door. Several years later I tried it again, however, this time it almost felt like my back pain was worse as I walked out the door.
In my opinion, the chiropractor also seems like a temporary cure. This is because your strained muscles are pulling your bones out of alignment, so if you continue to strain them you are just going to go back to the same place of pain. The chiropractor gives you a lot of advice on keeping your body in good shape like exercising and strengthening your core, which relieves your back muscles from doing all the work.
My cure was found with a combination of things; yoga, stretching and walking everyday. As soon as I wake up in the morning I start a 30-minute session of hatha yoga. It is best to learn a few hatha poses in correct alignment at first, but as your body becomes accustomed to these poses, to avoid reaching a plateau it is best to continue to incorporate new poses as your body and core grows stronger.
One thing that I feel gave the most surprising results was taking a walk for 1 hour along the Sunabe seawall every evening. Not only does it clear your mind and relieve stress, which is another cause of back pain but in only a week I could feel my pain disappear almost completely.
Nowadays, since most jobs entail working in front of a computer for long periods of time, ergonomics and how to manage and take care of your body is becoming increasingly more important. Alternative options to the usual chair and workstation are becoming more prevalent in many companies. A lot of offices have gotten rid of chairs and are using yoga balls to sit on instead, which allows your body to move around easily while strengthening your core. Some offices are now implementing the option of having stand-up workstations. The necessity of these innovations in my opinion proves that humans are not supposed to be sitting, motionless, in front of computers all day. But because of that necessity, we are all adapting to our new work environment.