Back pain isn’t just an issue in physically demanding jobs like warehousing or construction – office workers are also at risk for serious back problems. In fact, office workers may be at greater risk for back pain, as sitting stresses your spine 30 percent more than standing.
Reducing back pain at the office involves making a few simple changes – and sticking with them. The following is a list of a few tips for alleviating back paint at work.
1. Straighten up
This goes without saying, but maintaining good posture throughout the day can significantly improve your spine health. Sit up straight at your desk and face forward, aligning your back and neck. Avoid slouching or leaning forward, and keep both feet planted on the floor.
When standing, align your hips and shoulders with your feet, and keep your chin parallel to the floor. Don’t hunch over when standing or walking. Use your core muscles to maintain proper posture.
2. Take a walk
Sitting and staring at a computer screen for 8 to 10 hours a day not only causes back issues, but increases the risk of other health problems such as cardiovascular disease, weight gain and diabetes.
One way to prevent sitting-related back pain and other serious health issues is to take regular breaks. Take a walk or do small stretches at your desk every hour. Don’t eat lunch at your desk; if possible, eat in a cafeteria or break room, walk to a restaurant or even exercise during lunch.
3. Use safe lifting techniques
If your job involves moving heavy office supplies, use proper lifting techniques to avoid stressing your back. Straighten your spine, and bend at the knees instead of bending over to pick up an item. Lessen the strain on your back and arms by holding items close to your body when lifting them.
Don’t cause unnecessary strain by attempting to lift an object that’s too heavy. If you can’t pick up something on your own, ask a coworker for help.
4. Embrace ergonomics
Having an ergonomically friendly workspace can do wonders for improving your back and overall health. Your chair is the most important part of the setup; it should recline, have comfortable cushioning and provide adequate lumbar support. Rest your feet on a stool under your desk, as this can improve your spine’s alignment.
Position your monitor at eye level directly in front of you; you shouldn’t have to lean forward, turn your head or strain your eyes to see your computer screen. Place your mouse and keyboard close to your body so you can reach them without stretching or bending your wrists.
5. Avoid anxiety and stress
Muscle tension – a common reaction to stress and anxiety – can lead to or worsen back problems. Learning to handle stress and anxiety in healthy ways can reduce tension and your chances of back pain.
Clear your head during the day by going on a walk, exercising during lunch or practicing deep breathing. Even focusing on relaxing your muscles can lessen the tension in your back. Try not to focus on work at the end of the day – plan your favorite relaxing activity to take your mind off of stress and wind down after the workday.
Source: www.realbusiness.com; Megan Schuman; July 22, 2014.