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Back pain from lots of sitting: self-massage loosens tense muscles
A special self-massage can help alleviate the pain in case of back pain. This was shown by the results of a recent study by the Chemnitz University of Technology. The massage, carried out by hand, only lasts eight minutes and can be easily integrated into everyday life.
Many hours at the desk
Most people spend many hours sitting every day. According to experts, around every second employee works at a desk. But sitting for a long time makes us sick and, among other things, leads to back pain. It is therefore advisable to get up and move again and again. According to a new study, it can also help if you massage yourself.
There are various home remedies for back pain, such as heat treatments or ointments, which have been shown to alleviate the symptoms. A special self-massage that relaxes tense muscles can also help. This is shown by a study published in the "Applied Ergonomics" journal.
Relaxation of the back muscles
Whether at work, on the way there or at home: an opportunity to sit is given in many everyday situations and is gladly used. In the car, the seat heating attracts, in the office comfort, when it is waiting it is a habit and in your own four walls the sofa and armchair are used for relaxation.
"However, sitting for the back can be anything but relaxed," explains Dr. Freddy sighting from the professorship movement science of the technical university (TU) Chemnitz in a message. Summed up by the day, people sit more and more: on average six to ten hours.
“It becomes particularly problematic when, for example, truck drivers sit behind the wheel for almost nine hours without a great break,” says Sichting.
The phenomenon of people complaining of aching back or muscle tension after long periods of sitting is not new. "It is all the more surprising that so far there is no evidence that the back is tense due to long sitting, nor how can those affected do something about it themselves with little effort," says the movement scientist.
Those affected would sometimes use massages to relax their back muscles, but the classic massage is rather unsuitable for everyday work. "Self-massage with a foam roller promises a flexible alternative here," Blicking explains.
Sitting for long periods of time can cause back tension
As was shown in a study at the Chemnitz University of Technology, eight minutes of self-massage with a standard hard foam roller are sufficient to relax the back muscles that have become stiff after four and a half hours of permanent sitting.
"The sequence of movements consists of leaning against the roll with your back against the wall and massaging your back yourself by slowly moving up and down," explains the study director.
For the study, 59 participants were divided into two groups. While one applied the self-massage with the roller for eight minutes after sitting for four and a half hours, the other group also paused for eight minutes while standing - but without massage.
Three measurements of the stiffness of the back muscles were carried out for all participants: before sitting, after sitting and after each break while standing with or without self-massage.
According to sighting, the results not only demonstrated for the first time that sitting for long periods of time can cause back tension, but it also showed that the back muscles, which had become stiff due to sitting, could be loosened again by the self-massage and no deterioration compared to the initial state could be heard .
Integrate massage flexibly into everyday life
"It was a great motivation for us to be able to help people who have to sit at work for a long time with our research," says Blicking, who started the study together with Alexander Kett, who is intensively involved in this topic as part of his doctorate the professorship for movement science.
"The eight-minute self-massage can be flexibly integrated into everyday life and can not only counteract the development of back pain, but also create the conditions for avoiding it," explains Kett.
Self-massage could become particularly important for those who have to sit without interruption for a long time due to work. "For example, truck or bus drivers," says sighting, "but sometimes also office workers."
Benefit can be felt immediately
In addition, the movement scientist emphasizes "that the benefits can be felt immediately because the beneficial feeling of a classic massage is established." The idea of doing something for your health with such a simple measure can also motivate you to perform the self-massage regularly.
"With other therapy measures and training content, the desired effect often sets in later, which means that those affected quickly lose interest in it", explains Blicking and emphasizes at the same time: "Self-massage should be part of regular sitting breaks, but not replace them."
As a preventative measure, the specialist advises you to get up briefly every 30 to 60 minutes for small activities rather than sit for hours at a time in order to be able to counteract this with the massage. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- Chemnitz University of Technology: When your back hurts from sitting, (accessed: 07.12.2019), Chemnitz University of Technology
- Applied Ergonomics: Sedentary behavior at work increases muscle stiffness of the back: Why roller massage has potential as an active break intervention, (accessed: 07.12.2019), Applied Ergonomics