Do you work long hours at a desk? Have you been noticing a dull ache or perhaps even striking pain in your lower back? Did you know that the most common work injury is back injury? The good news is that you can learn how to stop back pain — but it begins with making some very specific changes to your working life habits. Read on to learn our top eight tips to prevent back pain and begin experiencing a healthier, happier, more productive working life. Let’s get started with a healthy office lifestyle right now:
Keep That Mouse Close By
You may not think of this as causing back pain, but it easily can: If your mouse is too far away from your keyboard, you may have a tendency to twist your body or stretch it out of alignment as you are clicking. To avoid the pain that can come from contorting your body, make sure you keep that mouse close to your keyboard.
Align Your Head
You’re sitting at your desk, looking at your computer for hours upon hours every day in the office. Back pain can be caused by not having your head and neck aligned straight above your shoulders. So pay attention to the movement and alignment of your head. Avoid pushing your neck and body forward toward your computer. Sit straight and correct your alignment. In addition, if you have a workspace with two computers, make sure the screens are aligned with your eyes. If your computers are lower than your eye level, then you may have a tendency to keep your head down and out of alignment with your spine.
Keep Your Feet on the Ground
It’s true that we all can find ourselves floating in the clouds at work, but to make sure your back stays free from as much pain and injury as possible, keep those feet on the ground. Sometimes you don’t realise what your feet are doing under your desk until you actually start paying attention. So as soon as you sit down at your desk, make a conscious effort to place your feet firmly on the floor. Separate your feet comfortably, about a shoulder’s width apart. This helps relieve tension in your ankles and knees when your feet are pressed on the ground.
Take Time to Breathe
Learning some key breathing techniques while you are sitting at your desk not only will help you feel refreshed and more energetic and creative in the workplace, but it also will help prevent inflammation in your back. Try this: As you inhale in your office chair, envision curving your navel into your spine so that it forms a concave shape. Slowly let out your stomach and repeat. Try 10 repetitions of this a few times a day, whenever you need a break. By doing this you are not only allowing yourself some room to breathe and relax, but you are building your core. This helps make your back stronger and fights against injury.
Invest in a Good Chair
Not just any chair will do when it comes to protecting your back and avoiding the pain caused by sitting incorrectly for too long. You’ll want to choose a chair that is engineered for great lumbar support so that your lower back can rest comfortably and will be supported by the curve of the chair. Tilting your chair back occasionally so that it is in a slight recline also is a great way to rest your back and give it support. Just don’t get too comfortable in your cubicle and fall asleep!
Take Breaks and Get Out of Your Desk
It&rsquo's always important to remember that in any healthy working environment, you need to take breaks. If you work in an office in which this is not encouraged, then talk to your supervisor. Even if you get up and walk around for five minutes a few times throughout the working day, this will help prevent back pain and inflammation.
At your desk, do shoulder and neck rolls. Stretch your arms and legs. Many people do not realize that tight hamstrings are one of the causes of lower back pain. Doing simple hamstring stretching exercises every day can help reduce the pressure on your lower back. However, if you have back conditions, you need to consult with your physical therapist or your doctor first before incorporating any type of exercise.
Switch to Standing Desk for a Few Hours
Another option to invest in may be a standing desk, which your HR department may be amenable to purchase for you. A standing desk helps improve circulation and prevents many of the problems related to back pain caused when employees spend eight or more hours just sitting at a desk without breaks. A sedentary lifestyle at work is going to make you more likely to develop a back pain issue, so start today by doing this small thing you can to keep your back as healthy and happy as possible for the future.
Many workers do not realize they can make small changes to their posture and to their working environment to prevent back pain and inflammation at work. Preventing back injuries in the workplace is something you can do day by day as you change your habits. Knowing these simple, easy eight tips can dramatically improve the way you feel and will help you as you age as well. Keep our guide at your desk to remind yourself how to avoid back pain at work every day.