We usually associate leg pain with physical activity. It makes sense that you might have sore legs after running or riding a bike, but sitting? Can sitting really make your legs hurt?
Well, yes. Sitting for long hours not only puts you at an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity, but it can also cause musculoskeletal disorders that lead to pain in your legs (or neck, back, hips or shoulders).
In other words, sitting can be dangerous. So if you’ve been struggling with leg pain recently and you think it might come from sitting in an office chair for long hours, you might be right. Let’s talk about why sitting in your chair can cause leg pain and what you can do about it.
Why do I feel leg pain from sitting in my office chair?
The most likely reason why your legs hurt is that you have a bad chair, or at least one that’s not ergonomically suited to your body.
For example, if the chair is too hard, it will not only hurt your butt, but it may cause you to shift your weight from your feet (which are supposed to keep you propped up) to your thighs. This can lead to a lack of circulation in your lower legs. Over time, your leg muscles may start to atrophy because you don’t use them enough, making them have to work harder when you stand up and walk around after work.
Can poor sitting posture cause leg pain?
Yes, poor sitting posture may be the reason why you feel leg pain after sitting in your office chair. You are supposed to sit in a position that allows your back to rest snugly against the backrest, supporting your spine. Your arms are supposed to be parallel to the desk, and your hips are supposed to be positioned parallel to your knees. Of course, your feet are supposed to be positioned flat on the floor.
Any deviation from this can lead to pain in your body. For example, if you sit with crossed legs, you can constrict your veins and cause damage to them over time. This can even lead to a condition called deep vein thrombosis, characterized by blood clots in your calves or feet.
How to prevent leg pain from sitting in your office chair
Here are a few things you can do for pain relief and to prevent pain in the future:
- Get a new chair — If you think your chair is to blame for your pain, get a new one. Your office chair should have an adjustable seat and armrests so you can sit with your feet placed firmly on the ground and adjust your armrests to be parallel with your desk. It should also offer ample back support, have adjustable lumbar support, and swivel 360 degrees so you don’t overstretch your back when you turn to the side.
- Mind your posture — When you’re sitting in a chair at a desk all day, it’s easy to want to lean to one side or cross your legs, especially when you get tired. Be careful not to do that, as it can create muscular imbalances that lead to pain later on. As we discussed, crossing your legs is especially bad, as it can lead to weakened muscles that must work harder to support your body weight when you stand up and walk around.
- Consult a physical therapist — A physical therapist will assess your sitting posture and identify any issues that are causing you pain. They will also assess your chair to determine if it’s the root of your problem. Furthermore, they may be able to help relieve your pain by introducing you to stretches that improve your flexibility and exercises that help strengthen your back muscles. They may also apply manual therapy techniques that physically break up any tissue causing inflammation in your back.
Of course, don’t forget to take breaks. Getting up and walking around your office for a few minutes every couple of hours can help get your blood flowing and prevent muscle loss.
Virtual physical therapy with Agile Virtual PT has many benefits for office workers
Whether you work from home or in a traditional office, you may want to consider virtual physical therapy with Agile Virtual PT. Your therapist will meet with you online and work with you to help relieve your leg pain and prevent it from coming back in the future.
One great thing about virtual PT is that you don’t have to drive to the office after work — you can do it right at home. Plus, you can show your therapist your office chair, which will help them to determine if it could be the culprit of your leg pain.
Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.