About two months ago, I started having back pain.
And this was becoming a constant issue. I never had back pain. Nothing chronic anyway, not something that was nagging me every morning, and all day long. I thought maybe the training was incorrect but nothing seemed to explain what was going on.
But that wasn’t it. A few weeks ago have I figured it out.
Understand I don’t sit down a lot during my day. During training sessions with my clients, I’m standing, moving around, showing how to execute movements, assisting them, and in between I’m walking and in public transport.
I average 12 000 steps a day, and this doesn’t include the steps I take while I’m doing my training sessions or my workouts. It went up to 15 000 when I had my connected watch on my all the time. I move a lot. And I’ve never had any lower back issues.
However, recently I have been writing and posting more articles, videos, and podcasts. I can’t work at home. My home the place I rest. To work, I sit down at a Starbucks near Paris Saint Lazare Station. It is perfectly situated in between the clusters of my clients, my flat, and my gym. Dead center. The baristas are all great, and I’ve become a regular customer there.
So just sitting down for 1 to 3 hours a day my lower back has started giving me problems. So much so that I’ve had to go from these wooden chairs
to their armchairs.
Once I made the switch my lower back pain subsided VERY quickly. In about a week no more pain. I also included 15 second bouts of hanging once or twice a week and sets of 20 reps of 45 degrees hyperextensions.
But that isn’t the only thin that happened with sitting down more… and I hadn’t made the connection.
In parallel to this back pain problem, for a few months now I have been having a few issues with my right leg. It isn’t a horrific pain, it comes and goes in waves, but it is sufficient to stop me from trying any significant Squatting.
I couldn’t pinpoint the moment wen my leg started hurting, but I was going over my training log and didn’t seem to have felt anything that could explain what was going on. So I let my leg rest for 3 weeks, gave it all the love in the world, massaged it, rolled it, pressed and released it… still bugging me…
After a session with a coach called Mark Vouillot, I told him that adductor and abductor work relieved the pain, but didn’t solve it, and he suggested it might be a TFL issue. And you know what causes that? yeah, sitting down! So it has only been this week that I finally solved the issue by massaging the TFL (great video here on how to) and the Vastus lateralis, to get my range of motion back and finally relieve th pain I have been feeling in my legs.
Yeah, sitting down is bad.
But you know what else i understood? Exercise was telling me something is going wrong. If I just did nothing with my body, it would have taken me years to feel that something was wrong, and the problem would have settled and would have probably become a chronic condition.
If your job asks you to be seated for 8 to 10 hours a day, here is what I suggest : Change your job! Or more seriously, try to find solutions to be seated less. A client of mine got his company to switch his desk to become a standing one. A friend of mine sits down on a Swiss Ball.
If that is not possible, you should be able to have an adjustable chair that you can move at different heights during the day. Don’t keep the same position for too long. Get your computer on your knees, lie back, change something every 30 mins, and prevent chronic issues from overuse.
On top of this, I would strongly suggest you do these few stretches to save your back and hips from being frozen in time and space from my article on stretching :
Thigh stretch :
Grab your right foot with your right hand and pull your heel as close as you can towards your butt cheek. You can hold balance yourself against a wall with your left hand. Then switch leg.
Jefferson Curl (small back muscles):
Feet shoulder width, hand on your thighs, start by tucking your chin in and sliding your hand along your legs toward your feet, keeping your legs straight. Once you can’t go any lower, reverse the movement and roll back up. Do this three times. Do this very slowly and don’t force it.
Hamstring stretch :
Feet shoulder width, take a step forward. Lock your knees, keep your legs straight and lean down on the front leg. You should feel a strong stretch going from your front knee along the back of your leg right up to your butt.
Trikonasana or Triangle (lower back and adductor muscles ) :
Feet spread about 3 to 4 feet apart, open your right foot so it is perpendicular to the left. Facing forward hands shoulder height, arms straight, lean down right and try and place your right hand on the floor next to the outside of your right foot. Take your time going down and especially going back up.
You should feel a strong stretch on the left side of your lower back and on the inside of your right leg.
Oblique twist :
On your back, knees tucked up against you, hands spread apart with your palms facing down, let both your knees slowly fall down to the floor on the right and hold the position. Using your right hand push on the floor to try and get your shoulders flat on the ground.
You should feel a stretch on your lower back, your stomach and maybe the top of your hip.
If you feel your shoulders and pectoral muscles are tight on this exercise you need to focus on the arm stretch more. Switch sides.
Butt stretch :
On your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor, put your right ankle on top of your left knee. place your hands under your left thigh and pull as fas as your can towards you (your right arm should be between your legs). You should feel a strong stretch on your left thigh. Switch sides.
These are a minimum.
You should try and do them two to three times a week, and ideally throughout the day every day.
These few steps are important if you ant to sty flexible, and prevent hip and back pain in the futures.
You can also check out these stretching routines if you want to get your mobility to a higher level :
If you have no choice at work, and HAVE to sit down, at least make sure you aren’t letting your body become chronically stiff.
Stay flexible, mobile and healthy!