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Moving while sitting can help prevent back pain, doctors say

If you're sitting at a desk in an office all day, doctors say following some easy tips can help prevent back pain.
December 11, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Do you find yourself with an aching back at the end of the day? All that time spent sitting behind a desk may be to blame. But even if you're in an office all day, following some easy tips can help prevent the pain.

Lisa Penny of Marina del Rey has mastered the art of active sitting.

"I don't keep anything in one place. I'm always moving it all and sort of adjusting it," said Penny.

As a family therapist, she does a lot of sitting. And all that sitting has made a childhood back injury flare up.

"I think sitting is the most uncomfortable position. I think we all do it. All your body weight is coming into your low back," said Penny.

Dr. Sanjay Khurana, an orthopedic surgeon with the DISC Sports & Spine Center, says we're not really designed to sit for long periods at a time. He says the best thing we can do for our back is to get up and move every 15 or 20 minutes. Khurana recommends setting your phone to remind you.

"When it vibrates, you make sure you move your shoulders. You get up, perhaps stretch, take a little short walk, get back to your desk," said Khurana.

During the work day, don't slouch. Try to constantly engage your core.

"Every time you pass through a doorway, use it as a cue to either stretch or strengthen your muscles," said Khurana.

Good posture also utilizes your abs. Penny keeps her monitor at eye level and her keyboard at a place where she doesn't have to shrug or reach. She carries a portable back support and often switches with a kneeling stool that rocks.

Even in traffic, Khurana says you can still fire up deconditioned muscles.

"If you're in a stopped position, shrug your shoulders, keep your shoulders loose. Try to shift positions in the car. Even try to shift your pelvis up and down," said Khurana.

And if you're at home watching Eyewitness News from your couch, Khurana suggests standing while watching TV.

"That would be a great thing. You would be activating your muscles. You'd be stretching," said Khurana.

Back pain is always a concern, so Penny keeps it under control with constant movement.

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