With the advent of the ‘new normal’ work-from-home culture, there’s an ever-increasing problem of back aches that arise as a result of poor postures while sitting in front of our screens for prolonged periods of time. The more fortunate part of this, though, is that it presents us with the opportunity to pay more attention to our wellbeing in order to be able to fare further and easier!
Here is a simple understanding of why back aches happen in the first place, followed by some even simpler yoga postures that you could incorporate in your daily routine to become a healthier and a more productive you!
What causes lower back pain?
For more than a year now, most of us are working from home. Prolonged sitting in uncomfortable chairs and using make-shift arrangements such as sofas or even beds while working are becoming the main cause of lower back pains while we work from our home setups.
Improper sitting postures cause stress on the vertebral column or the back bone, through which passes the spinal cord. The spinal cord is the root of all our nervous system and all the nerves in the body originate from here. It is responsible for communicating messages between the brain and the rest of the body. The unequal distribution of pressure on the back (the vertebra and the spinal cord within) can not only put you under severe discomfort but also invite chronic pains and illnesses overtime.
Imagine the risk you put your body through just for some ignorance in the name of laziness.
Slouching, slumping, hunching, half-lying on the bed while working- basically any posture wherein your back is not comfortably erect at all times is going to take a toll on your spine health, sooner or later. Every incorrect sitting posture puts strain on your back. When you change position temporarily, this spine corrects itself, and you may experience momentary relief from the pain.
But as you continue to sit without proper back support, the stress on the back accumulates, which can result in dire chronic maladies.
Tips to ensure a comfortable sitting position:
A few changes in your work area and your sitting position can help reduce the severity of your back pain.
Sit upright for as long as you can. When you sit straight, you keep all the parts of your back bone properly aligned. This will reduce the stress and muscle fatigue on your back as well as the neck.
Move around. Sitting in the same posture for an extended period of time also sometimes stiffens the back. It’s important to take short breaks while working. Pause your work once every 30 to 45 minutes to have a glass of water, do some stretching exercises, or even a quick lower back relief yoga pose.
When you do not have a workstation at home, switching positions between your dining table/chair, your bed- provided you have a worktable to elevate the screen, is a good way to avoid sitting in the same position for long. Keep in mind the principles of proper sitting and posture when doing so.
Focussed breathing or mindful breathing is a great way to reduce the stress on your body. You can use your break time between work to mindfully practice deep-breathing before getting back to work.
Breathe is the source of life, and proper and mindful breathing practices can do wonders for your physical, mental and emotional well-being in the long run.
Yoga Exercises for Lower Back Pain:
Since time immemorial, yoga has been an excellent way to naturally correct your body posture and lessen the stress on the lower back.
When looking for methods other than medication to relieve back pain, yoga exercises top the charts as the most preferred. Yoga, an ancient holistic approach to health and wellness, originated in India during the pre-Vedic times and is popular worldwide even to this day. Remember all those stories of the great sages who spent their entire lifetimes sitting under that one tree, not moving, simply concentrating on their meditation? That was possible because of yoga!
Easy to do Yoga-asanas to relieve lower back pain:
Follow these simple poses to not only relieve your back-pain but also strengthen your back.
1. Chair Yoga Posture: Seated Cat-Cow Stretch:
The seated cat-cow yogasana is considered a restorative yoga posture that provides great relaxation after the exercise. Apart from the lower back, you’d find that this asana also relaxes your core, chest, hips, and neck.
- Sit on a sturdy chair. Your feet must completely touch the ground. Your back comfortably erect, that is, you must not be leaning into the backrest of the chair.
- Once you are seated, place your hands on your thighs.
- Inhale slowly and gradually arch your back, open your chest and lift your chin slightly upwards.
- Slowly exhale, and as you do this, arch your back and draw your chin back towards your chest.
- Repeat steps 1 and 2.
2. Neck Rotation:
Neck rotation is an excellent way to warm up and loosen the stiffness that gets accumulated in the neck, head and around the shoulders from prolonged sitting and working/reading. Slow rotation of the neck coupled with mindful breathing helps relax the tense muscles and reduces pain effectively.
- Sit on a chair with your back upright.
- Start by rolling your neck gently in the clockwise direction- bend your neck to the front (chin to your chest), then right, back, left, and down in the front again. Repeat this five times.
- Now roll your neck in the anti-clockwise direction similarly- to the front, left, back, right, and down in the front again. Repeat five times.
- As you do this, concentrate on your breathing, taking deep breaths.
3. Chair Yoga Posture- Ardhmatsyendrasana:
Ardhmatsyendrasana or half-fish yogasana involves a half-twist of the spine and aims to relieve stress on the spine, chest, hips, abdomen, and arms. This asana is considered one of the essential yoga postures and is quite complicated.
The Chair Ardhmatsyendrasana is a modification of the regular Ardhmatsyendrasana and is easier to execute for beginners.
- Sit on a sturdy chair. Straighten your back and lengthen your spine as you inhale. Hold the chair seat for support and slowly twist your spine to one side while exhaling. Concentrate on your breathing while maintaining this position. Hold for a few seconds and slowly get back to your original position.
- Now repeat the same for twisting to the other side. Straighten your back as you inhale. Slowly turn your spine to the other side while exhaling. Continue breathing deeply as you maintain this position. Slowly come back to your original position.
4. Uttanasana – Forward bend yoga posture:
This is another one of the popular yogasanas that can be comfortably practiced during work breaks and involves simple bends. This yoga posture allows you to stretch your back, which relaxes it and reduces tension and stiffness. This yogasana is also excellent for warm-up and stretches before working outs or any other physical activity.
- Sit on a sturdy chair. As you exhale, slowly bend forward and try to touch the floor. If you can manage to reach the floor, rest your hands on the floor. Let your head relax.
- As you inhale, raise your arms slowly over your head.
- Repeat these steps between hands touching the floor and hands raised above your head.
This asana is great for strengthening the back, legs, biceps, triceps, shoulder joints, and the hips. The Tadasana can be done standing on the floor as well as sitting on a chair.
To do this yogasana while sitting on a chair-
- Sit toward the front edge of your chair with your feet parallel to each other and with a hip-width in between them. Your knees and ankles must point outward.
- Shift your body weight on to the chair by pressing the sit bones. Press your soles on to the floor, straighten your back and slowly look upwards toward the ceiling.
- Lift your sternum and bend your head with your chin parallel to the floor.
- Slowly move your hands towards your heart and touch the thumbs to the sternum.
- Roll your shoulders up and back and then relax them. Take deep breaths as you follow the process.
- Repeat the steps.
Movement or any Physical activity which activates your muscles and warms them up can help you resolve stiffness, soreness, muscle fatigue and pain. Yoga is just one of the means to relieve back-ache from extended sitting. The yogasanas that we discussed can let you flex your tired muscles and give them some much needed stimulation
It is an excellent alternative to traditional medications to reduce pain and discomfort. Making changes in your postures and work area and adding simple yoga exercises to your routine go a long way in ensuring that you do not suffer from lower back pain despite your long and hectic work schedules.
The priority, in this blog, is to supply the reader with clear and unambiguous information. However, neither The New Me nor Gagan Dhawan makes promises, or guarantees regarding the completeness of the information found here. The content is not a replacement for advice of a licensed professional. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the writer’s.