It may seem strange that simply sitting in a chair at work all day would lead to back pain, but if you’re among the millions of office workers spending eight hours a day at your desk, you know all too well that the discomfort is real. The reason this happens is that sitting is a static posture that puts pressure on your back muscles and the discs of your spine. The problem is exacerbated if you slouch or slump in your chair, which strains your ligaments and can ultimately damage spinal structures. Fortunately, there are several ways to avoid this pain and keep yourself healthy at work.
Make sure your workstation is ergonomic
The right chair and peripherals can go a long way towards reducing your back pain at work. Keeping your body properly supported in a chair that’s right for you, along with using ergonomic equipment that’s kind to your legs, wrists, and neck, will improve your comfort and safety.
Take standing breaks
An ergonomic computer desk with sit-stand adjustment is the fastest, most effective way to eliminate your back pain. Standing allows your spine to stay in its natural S-curve, eliminating the spinal stress and strain that comes from extended sitting. In fact, according to a 2011 study, standing for just a total of about one hour each day reduces back pain by 54%. Using an adjustable height computer desks lets you stand as much or as little as is right for you, while allowing you to continue your work at the same time. Be sure to use an anti-fatigue mat under your feet, and stand shoeless if you can.
Stretch and take periodic short walks
If you’re not ready to make the leap to an adjustable height computer desk, your best bet is to get up regularly from your chair, walk around the office a bit, and do some simple stretches. If you’re able to take a twenty-minute walk at lunchtime, you’ll not only promote blood flow, but you’ll also help your body process fat and insulin, which usually just sits in the bloodstream while you’re in your chair. Regular movement throughout the day will also keep your joints, ligaments, and tendons loose, preventing the tightening and strain that causes back discomfort. A thoracic rotation stretch is a great option you can do right at your desk, without drawing too much attention to yourself in a busy office.
The bottom line
If you’re noticing back pain at work, don’t wait any longer to address it. The problem will only worsen over time. Incorporating some movement throughout the day, as well as using the right office equipment, will keep you comfortable and productive throughout the workday and beyond.