Following on from last week’s blog investigating lower back pain when sitting, today our focus moves to prevention! Some jobs can be quite physically demanding without leaving the office chair or driver’s seat. So if your work is predominantly sedentary and you have experienced back pain when sitting, today’s blog is for you. The following are 6 simple yet effective stretches you can do to help prevent stiffening up in your chair without needing to leave your chair…

The great thing about these exercises is they can all be done in your work chair or seat!

Seated piriformis (glute) stretch

  • Sit upright and cross one leg over as pictured
  • The leg that is crossed over is the side you will be stretching
  • Keeping a straight back, bend from the waist, bringing your chest toward your knees
  • Use you elbow to press down on your knee and your hands up gently pull up on your foot until you can feel the stretch through your glute/hip region
  • Hold this position for 15 seconds, sit back to ease the stretch off again then repeat 2 more times
  • Change legs and repeat the process on the other side

Seated Piriformis (glute) stretch

Seated hamstring stretch

  • Wiggle forward so you are seated near the edge of your chair
  • Stretch out one leg straight and rest your heel on the floor as pictured below
  • Now gently lean forward until a stretch is felt behind you knee/thigh
  • Hold the stretch for 15 seconds, then sit back to ease off the stretch
  • Lean forward again to stretch out the same leg 2 more times
  • Change sides and repeat the same steps on the other leg

Seated Hamstring Stretch

Image credit: Physical Therapy First

Seated back/glute stretch

  • Sit with left leg crossed over your right leg
  • Rest the forearm of right arm on the outside of the left upper thigh
  • Gently apply pressure with right forearm towards the right
  • As you apply pressure, twist around gently so you look over your left shoulder
  • Focus on lengthening your spine while you do this, i.e. sit as straight as possible
  • You should feel a stretch through your hip/glute and into your lower back
  • Hold for 5 seconds, repeat 5 times
  • Perform the same with the right leg over the left leg

Seated back/glute stretch

Image credit: Natural Health Focus

Seated side stretch

  • Sit upright in your chair
  • Raise your hands above your head with your fingers locked in
  • Push your palms out so they are pressing away from your head
  • Slowly bend to the left side until you feel a stretch through the side of your back. Hold for 5 seconds
  • Slowly bend to the right side until you feel a stretch. Again hold for 5 seconds
  • Repeat each side 3 times

Seated side stretch

Image credit: Natural Health Focus

Seated upper back stretch

  • Sit with your back against the back of your chair so that the top of the back support is positioned across the middle of your mid back
  • Place your hands behind your head
  • Slowly lean back over the back of the chair so that you are looking up
  • Breathe out and relax into the stretch. You should feel a stretch across the level of your back that is arching back
  • Hold stretch for 3-5 seconds
  • Repeat this stretch 10 times

Seated upper back stretch

Image credit: Stretching Exercises Guide

Seated pelvic tilts

  • Use your pelvis to change the arch angle of your spine
  • Keep shoulders and upper back upright and still
  • Tuck in your tail bone (B), then point your tail bone behind you (C)
  • Rock slowly from (A) to (B), back to (A) then to (C) and back to (A) again. This is one set
  • Repeat this set 15-20 times

Seated pelvic tilts

Image credit: Shawe Physiotherapy

The great thing about these exercises is they can all be done in your work chair or seat! If able, obviously getting up out of your chair, going for a walk around the office as often as possible is best. Try and make sure your lunch breaks involve some sort of physical activity and not just more sitting. If you are a driver, getting out to stretch your legs at the nearest truck stop is key. Don’t go through drive-thrus, get out of your vehicle and go for a walk to grab some lunch instead!

If you are experiencing lower back pain in sitting, sitting at lot a work, and feel your posture is getting worse – or simply needing an opinion on how best to manage your job’s demands – the team at Revive Physiotherapy and Pilates have many years experience working with patients from variety of occupations, from architects to call centre workers, to retailers and truck drivers, we have seen it all! Call today or book online for an appointment.

If you are experiencing acute back pain, experiencing any pain with any of the above exercises, or just unsure about how to perform these exercises, please avoid them and speak to your Physiotherapist first. They may be unsuitable for your condition and may make your pain worse.