Occupational back pain is incredibly common. It can affect most people when remaining sedentary or not moving from one position for long periods of time. The most common presentations are tightness, stiffness or pain in the neck and shoulders or lower back, but it can be felt anywhere along the spine from the head to the hips.
In most cases back pain isn’t caused by anything serious and will usually improve over time. There are things you can do to alleviate or prevent back pain but sometimes it can be persistent and keep coming back.
One of the most common causes of back pain is the way you sit, or how little you move throughout the day. The three most common causes of this pain are:
· Slouching forward in your chair
· Holding your phone between your ear and your shoulder
· Sitting in one spot for too long
Here are some tips to help improve, reduce and ease your neck, shoulder or back ache:
1. Stop looking down
Adjust your computer screen height to avoid unnecessary strain of the neck and shoulders. Your screen should be high enough so the top is at your eye level. The same applies for your phone. Try to minimise the amount of time spent looking down at your phone.
2. Sit within reach
Keep your mouse and keyboard at the edge of your desk in order to keep alignment and postural positioning comfortable.
3. Plant your feet
Your feet should be firmly planted on the floor. If they can’t reach try using a footrest. It’s best to avoid crossing your legs while you sit.
4. Sit back in your chair
You might have been told to sit up dead straight when you were younger. In theory that’s correct but it can lead to overloading and straining your back muscles if you remain too vertical. Try tilting your backrest to 100-110 degrees. Sit back and relax.
5. Choose a proper chair
Your chair doesn’t need to be overly expensive or fancy but it should have some basic functions. Adjusting the height, backrest angle and seat depth are very important when considering ergonomics while sitting.
6. Be mindful of your phone calls
If you spend a lot of time during the day on the phone, it’s best to avoid holding your phone to your shoulder. Consider using a headset or the speaker function.
7. Take breaks regularly and stretch
Probably one of the most important aspects of avoiding pain is taking regularly breaks and moving. Movement is key. Get up for at least five minutes every hour. Go and get a drink, do some stretches or just walk around the office.
8. Sit-to-stand and stand-to-sit desks
Sit-to-stand desks can be a great way to help with the above point; you can find good standing desks that adjust to either sitting or standing height online for a reasonable price. Just like you shouldn’t sit all day, try to avoid standing all day too: you should be sitting to standing every hour.
9. Think about your commute
Why not explore the different ways of getting to work? Incidental movement can be a good way to help alleviate any tension you build up over the course of a workday. Take the stairs, get off a few stops earlier and walk, ride a bike, skateboard or run to work.
10. Get stronger
One of the most common causes of tight muscles a lack of strength and stability. Pilates, yoga, swimming and strength training are excellent ways to stimulate those under-utilised muscles and reduce persistent aches and pains.
11. Do something about it
Finally, seek professional help. Prioritising your health and wellbeing is a key way to ensure productivity in the workplace and reduce absenteeism. If you have an injury get it looked at.
Guy Gold Osteopathy and Physiotherapy provide Osteo and Physio consultations and treatments for all types of injuries. We can assist in workstation advice and provide a thorough diagnosis and prognosis for your injuries or pain. Book an appointment with one of our clinicians and get help with your back pain today.