Tired of dealing with back pain? We found the solution could be swapping out your office chair for a stability ball.
Hey, it’s Michael and Melanie from the VENT Fitness Web and Social Media Team. We found we have a couple things in common: we’re both AMAZING VENT Fitness employees (don’t believe us? Ask our boss!), we’re awesome storytellers and we both found that ditching our office chairs for a stability ball saved us from nagging back pain.
Michael: My back pain started on Monday morning like everything else bad in the week. I remember rolling out of bed that morning because it hurt to sit up and step out. While walking down the hallway rubbing my back, I replayed the last 24-hours of my weekend. Was my back hurting because: I ran 3 miles Sunday morning, played catch with my boys in the front yard, split and stacked wood or maybe it was the way I sat on the couch for four hours watching football?
Melanie: Before I worked at VENT Fitness in Latham, I worked behind a sewing machine 5 days a week. Due to disk problems, by the end of the day I’d be in so much pain, my back and legs stiff from being seated all day.
Our back pain was not related to injury but to tightness
After asking a few trainers at VENT Fitness, we were surprised to learn that virtually all cases of chronic lower back pain are accompanied by tight hamstrings. The pain wasn’t due to exercise or exertion (in this case): it was sitting at work. We sit an average of 9.3 hours a day, more than we spend sleeping.
“Sitting is so incredibly prevalent that we don’t even question how much we’re doing it. And because everyone else is doing it, it doesn’t even occur to us that it’s not OK.” – Nilofer Merchant at TED 2013
There are a TON of facts on how bad sitting is. Don’t believe us? Click here to see more… Don’t worry, we’ll be here when you get back.
We Will Never Sit In A Chair Again
Michael: I feel embarrassed sharing this… I work at an awesome health-club where I workout (almost) every day with trainers in sessions that use stability balls. It wasn’t until I took KINETIX, while trying to hold good form using a stability ball, I realized I COULD SIT ON IT AT WORK!
Melanie: I had a stability ball at home that I used for workouts so I pulled it out of the closet and started using it instead of the couch when watching TV in the evening. Though I wasn’t able to take it in to work with me, I was able to use it at home.
Within One Workday, I Felt Better
Michael: I swapped out my desk chair for a stability ball before lunch last Monday. My back (hamstrings) were tight, I tried stretching, walked around, still sore. By the time I clocked out to head home at 5PM, my back felt better. I have been sitting on a stability ball for over a week now because the pain is gone. the best part: according to my trainers, I’m also getting in a pretty good workout while sitting. I’m working out my core, legs, hips to stay balanced. I’m burning calories engaging my muscles to stay on the ball. My back soreness is gone and I’m getting a workout at the same time.
Melanie: Though I wasn’t able to take it in to work with me, I was able to use it at home. After just a few weeks, I noticed a huge improvement in core strength which was one of the suggestions my spine doc gave me to help alleviate some of my lower back pain but that I had always found to be difficult. Just that small change helped me to perform my job without being crippled at the end of the day.
Is It Right For Me?
Before you toss your chair, try incorporating sitting on the stability ball to your day. According to the United States Army Public Health Command, sitting on an exercise ball can have a few drawbacks. For example, because exercise balls lack arm rests and back supports, the upper body might not be properly and fully supported. We still take walk breaks throughout the day to stretch our legs.
Your boss probably won’t be happy to see you rolling that fancy, ergonomic to the dumpster. Yes, the Health Command also explains that sitting in a chair in a reclined position significantly eliminates disc pressure in the back. Trust us, this position cannot be maintained while sitting on an exercise ball.
Michael: You will feel like you are sitting in a kindergarten classroom chair for a few minutes. It might be a good idea to measure the height of the chair you use before you buy your ball. It took a few hours for me to adjust my hand position to type on the computer, answer the phone or reach across my desk. I also had a concern about falling off the ball. By the end of my first workday, I overcame these fears.
Melaine: Here at VENT, I use a stability ball instead of a desk chair whenever I know I will be chained to the desk for any significant amount of time. Luckily, I get to move a lot throughout the day and never have to worry about being in any one place for too long but its awesome to have the option and access to a stability ball, particularly on days when I know I need to give my back a little extra TLC!
Ask YOUR Trainer
If lower back pain has been haunting you, ask a VENT Fitness Trainer the next time you check-in to the club about swapping your chair for a stability ball.