Weak Glutes and Back Pain

Ergonomic desk set-up diagram

Setting up an Ergonomic Workstation

This post is intended to help you set up an ergonomic workstation at work or home. Sitting at a desk for hours during the workday can be a killer for your body. No matter how well a workstation is designed, problems can arise if you don’t pay attention to the way your body is situated. Working at a computer often involves very few changes in body position and your body was made to move around and not to be sitting in a chair for hours on end.

Help your body by setting up a workstation that is more ergonomic

Here we go through a few ways to create a more ergonomic or more efficient and comfortable working environment. At the bottom of the post are some suggested stretches to help your body move and avoid any muscle pain or strain that can set in.

When creating a more ergonomic workstation it’s important that you adjust the furniture and equipment to suit your individual needs. This will place you in a good body posture while also reducing muscle strain and fatigue. You most likely sit in a chair so let’s concentrate on that first.

Adjust the chair’s backrest height, either up or down, to support the lumbar curve (small) of your back. To find your lumbar curve, hold your arms behind your back and comfortably clasp the opposite forearm near the elbow. When sitting at the computer, ensure your back is straight with your bottom at the back of the seat and make sure that the seat does not touch the back of your knees. This creates the correct position for your spine. If you can have a small foot rest to place your feet on that will take some stress off your lower back and legs.

Next let’s look at your desk position. Ensure that the top of your desk is high enough to allow your legs to fit comfortably underneath. If you use a computer then you more than likely use a keyboard. Position your keyboard so that it is in direct alignment with the computer screen. Make sure that the keyboard is flat to avoid typing on an angle which would put more stress on your wrists. The computer screen can be adjusted, or tilted, to a position that is about an arm’s length from your face and at an angle that your eyes are level with the top of the screen. Position the screen to minimize the glare and harsh reflections on your eyes.

Now that your workplace ‘fits’ you better, let’s look at some simple movements and stretches that are a healthy addition to your working day. When we are busy working we often don’t realize how much time has passed but it is recommended that you take a short break for 5-10 minutes for every hour spent at a workstation. If possible, stand up and walk for this time. This stretches out the legs and lower back, gets the blood moving around the body a little more, and changes your body’s position. It also gives you a short mental break from the work.

Some stretches can also be done: Reach both arms up over the head and push them to the sky while seated or standing. Hold the stretch for 5 to 7 seconds. Relax and repeat 3 to 5 times. This stretches the back, shoulders and arms. Next, take your hand and hold your fingers with the other hand. Slowly bend your wrist down until you feel a stretch on the top of your wrist. Hold the stretch for about 5 seconds. Relax and repeat 3 to 5 times. Change it up a little and slowly bend your wrist up until you feel the stretch on the bottom of your wrist. Hold and relax as you did before.

Be sure to reassess your workstation and adjust it to fit your needs and comfort level regularly and be sure to get up and move around.

Please feel free to check out more posts and tips on stretching and health here!

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foam rolling

Can Myofascial Release Help Back Pain?

Many people deal with lower back pain every year and in most cases it is mechanical or non-organic simply meaning it isn’t caused by serious conditions, such as inflammatory arthritis, infection, fracture, or cancer.

Myofascial release is a manual therapy technique that can help with that bad back of yours and get you doing the activities you enjoy again. There are several myofascial release techniques that can greatly improve the mobility of the back, as well as the knees, ankles and hips. The goal of these techniques is to manipulate the myofascial tissues, which are those tough membranes that wrap, connect and support your muscles.

Your back is influenced by other muscle areas and by releasing tension in tight glutes, hamstrings, calves and quadriceps it can help improve your back mobility and posture. Using a simple tennis ball or lacrosse ball on a hard surface can do wonders to loosen up those tight connecting areas. By laying on your back and placing the tennis ball on the glutes (commonly known as the ‘butt muscles’) and rolling on it to find that tight spot can release the tension. Reposition the ball on your lower legs just midway between your knee and ankle on your calf muscle and find another point. Roll the ball up and hit the hamstring area. Flip over on your stomach and do it again on the quadriceps which is located between your knee and hip. If you don’t want to lay on the floor you can try these techniques on the bed with the tennis ball on a hardcover book, or any other hard portable surface, to stop it from sinking into the bed cushion. To have added targeted pressure on those sore trigger points you might try a lacrosse ball as it is harder and slightly smaller than a tennis ball.

A foam roller can produce fantastic results for a tight back. It provides broad and superficial strokes like the hands of a trained massage therapist stretching the tissue in multiple directions. If you sit at work all day, you undoubtedly know about stiff upper back muscles, those pesky knots between the shoulder blades and a tight mid back area. Using a foam roller can help iron out those kinks. Firstly, position the foam roller at your mid back. Have your butt on the ground and cross your arms. Slowly extend back over the roller reaching your head to the ground if possible. Roll the foam roller to your upper back keeping your shoulder blades together. This will lengthen those back muscles and ease the pressure built up.