Did you know that low back pain is one of the most common chronic conditions in Canadians? 4 out of 5 Canadians will experience back pain at some point in their life1! As if we didn’t have enough back pain already, a recent study showed that about one-third of people have experienced increased back pain since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Why do you think that is?
There are a few changes that the pandemic has caused that could be contributing to your low back pain. One is that we’re not changing positions as much as we used to. Our backs have fluid discs in between each vertebral bone (think jelly-filled donut!). These discs get nutrients when we move and change position because the fluid inside them is able to move around. The fluid movement is what keeps our discs healthy! With recent changes in lifestyle and a lot of people working less or working from home, we are all spending a lot more time in one position. There is less commuting, going for lunch breaks or walks around the office, or more traditional forms of exercise such as the gym or sports, so our discs are not getting all the movement they need to be healthy. This can contribute to back discomfort!
Another reason people are experiencing more back pain is that we are putting our bodies in positions they’re not used to being in for longer periods of time. Those of us that are working at home are having to work at make-shift home offices or from the couch! The change in our body position might be minor, but if our back is used to sitting at our desk at work, and now we’re slumping a bit more on a couch instead, it can cause discomfort over time. Our backs aren’t conditioned to be ready for this new position. This is also true for midback and neck pain! Small and seemingly insignificant differences such as a slightly lower computer screen or working on a laptop instead of a desktop computer can make big differences in our posture. We have conditioned our backs to be used to our pre-COVID lifestyle over years, and have now thrown them into an entirely new position that they were not conditioned for!
Finally, the last reason why our low backache might be increasing is lack of exercise. Gyms have been closed lately, sports teams cancelled, and local parks and recreation are shut down. Unless you’ve got a great home gym or are super motivated, most of us are struggling to maintain a regular exercise routine through the pandemic. Because of this, our backs might not be as strong as they once were!
So What Can We Do About Low Back Pain?
For every 20 minutes of sitting, try and stand for 8 minutes and stretch for 2 minutes. Stretching for the low back can include gentle twisting, leaning from side to side, and bending forward and backwards. By shifting your position every once in a while, we help replenish the healthy fluids in our discs and allow our backs to have a break from being in the same position for too long.
- Make sure you have the best ergonomic setup that you can if you’re working from home.
You want the centre of your computer screen to be just below eye level, and your keyboard to be in a position that you can comfortably rest your elbows at 90 degrees. Try and sit on a chair that is more structured than the couch, and practice good posture!
- Work on strengthening your low back!
In an upcoming video on our YouTube channel, we will be going over a few key low back exercises to help stretch and strengthen your low back. Having a stronger low back means it will be more prepared for when something new comes along – like yardwork, lifting something heavy, or having to work from home!
Your chiropractor can help give ergonomic advice to improve your at-home set up and tailor a low back program specifically to fit your needs. Not everyone’s low back pain is from the same source, so going to a professional that can help identify the source of your pain and create an individualized treatment plan can help you get quicker results!
To book an appointment with Dr. Kayla Rynne, call (289) 788-8363 or book online today!
Statistics Canada. (2006, August 15). Back pain. Musculoskeletal diseases: Back pain.
Workplace Safety and Prevention Services. (2017, October 12). New tool helps employees move more. WSPS.