25 Oct Workplace Back Pain Relief Techniques – How to combat back pain at work
If you work in an office and spend the majority of your day sitting, you are likely familiar with back pain. Sitting at a desk for eight hours a day can cause stiffness and tension, which can be very uncomfortable while working. If your job requires you to twist or bend frequently, you may be more prone to back pain. Between 50 and 80 percent of people will experience back pain at some point in their lives, and approximately 20 percent of adults will experience back pain in a single year.
Back pain in the workplace can be avoided by implementing proper office ergonomics and improving your posture. Safe movements can also help to prevent back pain from occurring in the first place. If you do develop back pain, increasing your activity level and adopting a healthier lifestyle can help.
When we sit, our hip flexors are usually contracted, and we have a forward head posture, rounded shoulders, and tense low back muscles. To prevent, manage, and improve pain from sitting, a variety of exercises, postural awareness, and ergonomic changes can be implemented.
To begin, it is critical to become aware of how one is seated. Keep your shoulders back and your head in line with your shoulders. People are frequently slouched, which can be a source of headaches. It is also important not to sit on a wallet or cross your legs. Over time, this can cause one hip to be higher than the other, putting pressure on the nerves of the low back and causing pain.
Before beginning any new exercises or stretches, consult with your chiropractor or healthcare provider. If your office space allows it, getting a standing desk or sitting on an exercise ball can be beneficial. Walk during breaks, get outside, stretch every 30 minutes, and breathe deeply.
Remember that our bodies are built to move. A healthy spine translates into a healthy life. Get up, move your body, visit a chiropractor, soak up some sunshine, and then conquer the day!
Consider these six tips for reducing office back pain if you want to prevent or manage back pain at work.
1. Establish an Ergonomic Workspace
Employees in an ergonomic workplace can reach everything they need without straining. By adjusting the height of desks, chairs, and monitors, proper office ergonomics promotes good posture. Here are some ideas for creating an ergonomic workspace:
Place everything within arm’s reach: Instead of straining to reach pens, tape, or your phone, place everything you frequently use within arm’s reach. Maintain a close relationship between your computer mouse and your keyboard. Check that you can reach everything without leaning or stretching.
Adjust the height of your monitor: Raise or lower it so that the top of the screen is at eye level. So you don’t have to tilt your head or lean forward, your gaze should naturally fall on the area of your screen that you look at the most.
Adjust monitor brightness and size: If your computer screen’s brightness is too low, you are more likely to lean towards it. Consider adjusting the size of your font if you need to squint to read something. This will allow you to maintain good posture while reading comfortably.
Adjust the height of your desk or chair: Make sure your work surfaces are at a comfortable height for you and that you are not leaning forward or straining upwards. When your hands are on the surface of your desk and you are sitting up straight, your elbows should form a 75 to 90-degree angle if your chair and desk are at the proper height.
2. Select the Best Office Chair
Choosing an appropriate office chair can also help to promote proper posture. The following are some features to look for in an ergonomic office chair:
Adjustable height: Select a desk chair that allows you to adjust the height so that your elbows are at a comfortable angle with the desk.
Adjustable backrest: If your desk chair has a deep enough seat, there should be 2 to 4 inches between your calves and the front of the chair when you sit with your back against the backrest. Select an office chair with the appropriate seat depth or one with an adjustable backrest.
Adjustable armrests: Your desk chair’s armrests should lift your shoulders slightly to relieve strain on your upper back. When your armrests are properly adjusted, you will be less prone to slouching.
Lumbar support: Select an office chair that supports your lower back. Lumbar support promotes proper back curvature, which reduces tension and pressure. Consider using a small pillow behind your back to improve your posture if your office chair lacks lower back support.
Soft and padded seat material: A good office chair will have soft and padded seat material that is comfortable to sit in all day.
Swivel: If you need to rotate or turn frequently, choose a chair that swivels to avoid twisting your torso. You will be able to rotate while maintaining good posture.
3. Maintain Good Posture
When sitting for long periods of time, it is easy to unknowingly slouch or lean. If not corrected promptly, poor posture can cause severe back pain and eventually lead to chronic back problems. Good posture reduces the gravitational pressure on your spine, resulting in increased comfort and a lower risk of back pain. Here are some tips for sitting with good posture:
- Maintain a straight line with your head and neck directly above your shoulders.
- Maintain a firm grip on the backrest of your chair.
- Maintain a straight back and a square face to your computer screen.
- By bringing your chair closer to your desk, you can keep your upper arms parallel to your spine.
- Maintain a flat foot on the ground and avoid crossing your legs.
- Maintain a 90-degree angle with your knees and, if necessary, use a footrest.
Remember to keep your body relaxed when adjusting your posture. If you already have office back pain, a stiff posture can aggravate your neck and back pain.
4. Exercise Correct Movements
Back pain at work is frequently caused by jarring movements such as incorrectly lifting something or twisting your body in an awkward way. However, you can prevent and reduce back pain by maintaining good posture during all movements and activities.
Use the following guidelines to practice proper office movements:
Lift from the knees: While many office jobs do not require heavy lifting, if you do need to lift a case of printer paper or a box of files, be sure to practice proper lifting techniques. While lifting, bend your knees and keep the object close to your stomach. While lifting, keep your back straight and avoid twisting your torso. If an object is too heavy to lift, enlist the assistance of a coworker.
Maintain good posture while walking around the office by keeping your shoulders back and your chin up. After sitting at your desk, stand tall to stretch your back.
Consider using a hands-free phone: Rather than tilting your head to hold your phone on your shoulder, consider using a hands-free device, such as a headset or speakerphone. If you don’t have a hands-free phone, switch between your right and left side during long phone calls.
Keep your movements relaxed: If you have back pain, it can be difficult to move naturally. However, unless you have a fracture or a more serious back problem, moving in a relaxed manner can help relieve back pain. Limiting your range of motion and flexibility can lead to increased back pain and stiffness. This cycle has the potential to transform acute back pain into chronic back pain over time.
5. Take Short Breaks Frequently
Working long hours at a desk requires frequent short breaks to get up and move around. Employees should ideally stretch their back and legs at least once an hour by going for a walk and performing stretches. A one-minute walk can be extremely beneficial in preventing back pain. If frequent breaks are not possible, try to stretch at least three times per day. You can even perform dynamic stretches while moving around your office.
Other relaxation techniques that you can incorporate into your workday can also be very beneficial. Proper breathing techniques can help you lengthen your spine. Yoga can also help to reduce stress and physical tension.
6. Put on Supportive Shoes
If you frequently walk around your office, wear comfortable shoes rather than high heels. High-heeled shoes can disrupt the alignment of your spine and body, causing your posture to suffer. When standing for an extended period of time, supportive and comfortable shoes will improve your back comfort. If you must stand on a hard surface, put a padded floor mat beneath your workstation. Even if you sit most of the day, high heels can alter your sitting posture by changing the angle of your knees. Wear low-heeled shoes that promote good posture at all times.
Request an appointment at Align Chiropractic & Sports Medicine now to help combat back pain.