Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work. In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office, outnumbered only by upper-respiratory infections.
Excluding more obvious causes of pain, such as traumatic injury and heavy lifting, most long-term back pain is attributed to our office workstations. Poor posture, poorly positioned equipment, such as the placement of our keyboard and mouse, and the excessive periods which we sit during the work day all contribute to chronic back pain. Here are simple solutions to help reduce back pain at the office.
Moving Throughout the Day
Maintaining flexibility versus continuous sitting is a remedy for most office-related backaches. Long periods of sitting exert pressure on the back muscles and spinal discs, which you may not feel until you get up. Then the sharp pain sets in. Take periodic breaks throughout the day. Walk around the office and stretch. Sit-Stand Workstations also encourage regular movement, maintain blood flow, and offer all the benefits of low-impact flexible movement without exertion. Learn more about how sit-stands help back pain and provide other health benefits.
Proper Workstation Arrangement
The impact of poorly arranged computer equipment is subtle and seems completely unrelated to back pain. However, you will begin to feel the difference by using these ergonomic tips:
Monitor placement-Position your monitor so the top of the screen is at eye level. Use a monitor stand if necessary. Place the monitor about arm’s length away.
Keyboard placement-Keep your keyboard directly in front of you when typing. Keep your arms bent in an L-shape and elbows at your sides. Use a keyboard tray to position your keyboard correctly if needed.
Keep your mouse close to you- When you place your mouse on a desk, the tendency is to reach for it, causing pains in our arm, which can lead to pain in your back as your body tries to compensate for the difficult position in which you are working. The shorter the reach the better when mousing.
Improving Your Posture
Sitting correctly is one of the most important actions you can take against office-related back pain. Make sure your office chair is at the correct height. Ideally, your forearms should be straight and level with the floor as you type at your keyboard. Here are other tips for posture:
- Don’t cross your legs
- Don’t slouch
- Either keep feet flat on the floor or use a footrest
- If you find yourself frequently changing your position in the chair, use a backrest to keep a consistently secure and comfortable sitting posture