How to Manage Back Pain If You're Hunched Over All Day

As a college student in the midst of a pandemic, I have familiarized myself with taking online classes and staring at my laptop. Unfortunately, being on my laptop all day usually means sitting in an awkward position on my bed or in a hunched position over my desk. After taking online classes for three quarters consecutively,  my posture has worsened and I am plagued by occasional backaches. Who knew I would feel like a grandma at 21 years old?

After realizing how uncomfortable I was always feeling, I finally decided to do something about it. I’m here to share three proven techniques that helped me manage this unnecessary back pain. 

  1. 1. Meditation 🧘🏼

    I know what you’re thinking. Not another article telling me to meditate! But, trust me, I felt the exact same way. Yet surprisingly, these meditation advocates are not lying. Continuous meditation, even just two minutes every day, is proven to alleviate not only physical pain, but also mental stress. 

    Sitting on a blanket on the floor or even simply sitting on your bed will work. Meditation is sometimes believed to be something that is very time consuming and that requires a lot of effort, but it doesn’t actually have to be that way. I try to sit for just four minutes silently every day between classes or right before I go to sleep. Not only does it make me feel more relaxed, but it also helps me fall asleep quickly. Feel free to throw out all your melatonin gummies! Well, maybe not all of them. 

    Although sitting silently may sometimes work well, listening to soft music, like those on meditation apps, can also help ease you into the right mindset. Specific apps I like to use are Insight Timer and Calm. I’ve recently been more of a fan of the Calm meditation app, especially because of their advertisements on television promoting 30 seconds of natural music. If only we had more advertisements like that! 

    On these meditation apps, you can choose to just listen to natural music or go through a self-guided meditation. I recommend doing a self-guided meditation when you feel really out of focus and are increasingly bothered by back pain. The average one takes about 20 minutes, but they are definitely worth the time! Afterwards, I feel relieved and more comfortable with my posture. 

  2. 2. Yoga🧎🏿‍♀️

    Yoga

    One word: yoga. Being able to stretch and expand your body can also alleviate any tension in your muscles and arms. Certain poses can even strengthen your body. Since we are living in the middle of a pandemic, all the CorePower Yoga studios are closed for indoor hot yoga. Doing yoga in the heat helped me further reduce any tension in my body because it made me worry more about the heat instead of my stress. But now, I have to do yoga in my high school bedroom with constant, little distracting noises in the background. If you can relate, I suggest listening to soothing music, such as meditation music from the Calm app, to eliminate those distractions. 

    Watching guided youtube videos initially helped me learn certain yoga techniques, create a yoga flow, and obtain correct yoga posture. After getting into a rhythm with the yoga postures, I eased off the guided yoga videos and decided to practice my own flow. I decided to hold each pose for 30 seconds each. This helped me engage my spine by switching from pose to pose. 

    If you are in a rush and do not have time for a full yoga flow, try holding a downward-facing dog position for 30 seconds, then the bridge pose for 30 seconds, and finally the downward-facing dog pose for the last 30 seconds. The downward-facing dog pose requires your body to take the shape of a triangle with a slight bend in the knees. 

  3. 3. Lower your seat! 👩🏾‍💻

    I never realized how pressing a lever could make all the difference. If you have slight lower back pain, it’s likely because your chair is too high or too low. Thegolden rule to remember when it comes to sitting at your desk is to make sure your knees are at a 90 degree angle and are also touching the floor. 

    Once you are able to sit in this position, try to lower your desk or work area if it requires you to raise your arms higher than 180 degrees. Having a separate keyboard that you can attach to your computer through bluetooth may help because you can now have this keyboard on your lap.