Whether you’re still working from home or have made your way back to the office, chances are you find yourself stuck behind a screen and hunched over a keyboard for most of the day. The World Health Organization estimates that 60 to 85% of people worldwide lead sedentary lifestyles, thanks to our professions. This is an issue because sitting too much and not moving enough can lead to back pain and other severe back problems.
While sitting itself isn’t great, it’s often the way we sit that causes most of the problems. The good news is that there are things you can do that can help alleviate this discomfort. Here are three ways to reduce office back pain so you can enjoy your time outside of the office.
How Does Sitting Cause Back Pain?
One of the main reasons you get back pain when you are at the office is sitting in the same position for too long. Sitting in the same position for an extended period can cause stiffness and tension to build around the spine. The spine uses water and glycosaminoglycans to help it resist compressive forces.
The issue arises when this tension forces water out of the discs in your spine. When this happens, the discs in your back can bulge, creating pressure on your spinal nerve. Therefore, you must take proactive measures to reduce the tension in your back and prevent long-term back pain caused by prolonged sitting.
Ways to Reduce Office Back Pain
The steps for reducing your office back pain are surprisingly simple. It will take a bit of effort and motivation upfront, but you can resolve your existing pain and prevent future pain. Here are a few ways you can start tackling your pain.
1. Create an Ergonomic Workspace
Having a workstation that is well-adjusted can make a world of difference when it comes to back pain. The first step is to make sure your desk, chair, and armrests are at the right height for you. Unless you are lucky enough to have access to an adjustable standing desk, you likely don’t have the option of determining how high your desk is. Thus, you want to place extra emphasis on the other areas of your workstation.
Your chair is going to be one of the most important things to adjust. You want to sit as close to your desk as possible. Then you want your arms to form a 90-degree angle at the elbow. Most desk chairs have a hydraulic lift system that makes achieving this quite simple. If you have adjustable armrests, you want them at a height that will lift your shoulders slightly to alleviate any strain in your shoulders and upper spine.
Next, you’ll want to take measures to get your computer screen to eye level. Keeping your screen at eye level will prevent both neck and back pain. If your computer monitor needs raised, consider purchasing a stand to achieve the proper height. Lastly, you’ll want to keep the things you use most frequently, such as your mouse, phone, pens, etc., within arms reach. Keeping these items close to you will prevent repetitive stretching and will help you maintain your posture.
2. Improve Your Posture
Remember getting yelled at for slouching when growing up? Well, it was said for good measure! Good posture can make a world of difference when it comes to office back pain. When you sit for a long time, you unknowingly begin to lean or slouch, creating tension around the spine. But, proper posture can alleviate this pressure.
When you are working, try your best to keep your back fully against the back of your chair. You also want to keep your shoulders back while facing your computer screen head-on to keep your head and neck directly above your shoulders. Also, keeping your knees at a 90-degree angle with your feet flat can help you avoid lower back pain.
If you can’t get this posture on your own, feel free to use accessories like a footrest, lumbar support cushion, etc. Once you are in a good position, it’s essential to keep your body relaxed. The tenser you get, the more pain you will have.
3. Move Around
The biggest culprit of office back pain is sitting, so the best way to counteract this is to get up and move around. Rather than sit for hours on end, get up and take frequent short breaks. This will help keep you from staying in one position too long. Additionally, it is a good idea to stretch throughout the day to relieve the pain.
Outside of the office, consider incorporating exercise that will help build your core and lower back muscles. Strengthening these muscles will help give you the support you need to maintain proper posture while you work.
While these are a few steps you can take to reduce office back pain, don’t stop there. Stretch your back out before and after work to keep your muscles loose. It’s also important to maintain a healthy weight, eat a balanced diet, and get enough sleep. All of these factors will help your body recover from any aches and pains caused in the office. However, if your back pain worsens, visit your doctor. Even if it’s nothing but some sore muscles, at least you’ll have peace of mind, and you can proactively work towards reducing your back pain.
Written by Jake Gibson