Want to reduce back pain when you are working? Back pain at work affects us all. And the truth is that, if you are feeling pain in your back as you sit at your office desk, you are never going to give your 100%.
The worst thing comes if you don’t have a chance to take time off. And if your back goes out on you, it will be difficult to carry out your most important responsibilities.
One problem that is common to us all is that we don’t like to take time off until the discomfort become unbearable such that we are not able to perform simple tasks comfortably.
Sitting all day behind a computer is not easy but there are things you can do to ensure you are efficient at work. Back pain doesn’t give you joy, so it is essential to find ways to eliminate or reduce back pain to the barest minimum.
Don’t Ignore Back Pain Warning signs
The first signs of back pain are stiffness and spasms. It could be a potential nerve or potential disc injury, or muscle injury. Forcing yourself through pain or speeding up the recovery with muscle relaxants and medication can result in an unpleasant experience.
Of course, medications provide you value but not without complications. The problem is that, if you are treating the symptoms and not the causes, you would continue to have the symptoms. So the best solution is to treat the causes by changing what you are doing wrong.
How to Set up Office Chair to Reduce Back Pain When You Are Working?
Incorrect sitting posture is one of the major causes of back pain at work as it can damage spinal structures and worsen back pain. Here is how to set up the office chair to reduce back pain when you are working:
- Elbow measure
- Thigh measure
- Low back support
- Calf measure
- Resting eyes level
1. Elbow measure
Sit comfortably very close to your desk such that your upper arms are parallel to your spine. You can adjust the height of your office chair to ensure your elbows are resting on the work surface at 90-degree angle.
2. Thigh measure
Be sure you can easily slide your fingers under your thigh at the leading edge of your office chair. If it’s too tight, adjust your footrest to prop up your feet. If you are really tall and there’s more than one finger width between the chair and your thigh, raise the desk or work surface in order to increase the height of the office chair.
Adjust your office’s chair armrest so that it slightly lifts your arms at the shoulders. It is important to use an armrest on your office chair to take off the strain from your upper spine and shoulder. Of course, it should make you less likely to slouch forward in your chair.
4. Low back support
Press your bottom against the back of your chair, which should be a cushion that makes your lower back to arch slightly to prevent you from slumping forward or slouching down in the chair as you tire over time.
Low back support in your office chair is vital when it comes to minimizing the load (strain) on your back. Never slouch or slump forward in your office chair, as that places more stress on your low back structure, and in particular, on your lumbar discs.
5. Calf measure
While your bottom is pushed against your chair’s back, pass your clenched fist between the back of your calf and the front of your office chair. If it is too easy for you to do that, it means your office chair is too deep.
You need to adjust the chair’s backrest forward, insert low back support (e.g. a lumbar support cushion, rolled up towel or a pillow, or buy a new office chair.
6. Resting eye level
While sitting comfortably with your head facing forward, close your eyes. Aim your gaze at the center of your computer screen. If your computer screen is lower or higher than your gaze, raise or lower it to reduce strain on your upper spine.
Optimize your phone calls for lower back pain relief
Most people tuck their phone between their shoulder and head to free up their hand while talking, causing strain to their shoulders and neck. Here is how to optimize your phone call for lower back pain relief at work:
- Use speakerphone or a headset: If you need to take notes during the call or your conversation last more than 5 minutes, use speakerphone or a headset.
- Switch your phone between right and left hand sides throughout the conversation.
Sitting or standing in one position for 8 hours can wreak havoc on your body, so it makes sense to move every 20 minutes throughout the day. Try the following while at work and want to reduce back pain:
- Take micro-breaks or short breaks, once every hour to get a glass of water, use the restroom, stretch or visit the copy machine. Sitting for long periods can weaken your back’s muscles. Just 60 seconds stretching is enough to avert the negative effects of sitting.
- Strengthen your core muscles with exercises, such as sit-ups, pilates or yoga. You should also work your stomach and your back to improve your posture and reduce pain.
- Studies suggest that you should spend at least half your hours at work standing up. If you have a sit-stand workstation, alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day.
Handling or lifting objects incorrectly is one of the biggest causes of a back injury, especially at work. It is important to learn to lift things safely. Here is how you can lift objects safely:
- Plan your lift
- Start lifting in a stable position
- Keep the load close to your waist
- Let your back remain as straight as possible
- Do not twist your back or lean sideways
- Avoid lifting heavy loads
- Distribute the weight evenly
- Push heavy objects, don’t pull them
Don’t cross legs
If you really want to reduce back pain when you are working, don’t cross your legs. Sitting cross-legged makes it hard to keep your spine straight and shoulders squared. This can put you at the risk of overstretching the muscles around the pelvis, upping the risk of varicose veins by interrupting blood flow. It makes sense to uncross and relax.
Pay attention to posture
When you are standing, balance your weight evenly on your feet. Avoid slouching. To promote good posture when you are sitting, choose a chair that supports your spinal curve. Adjust the chair’s height so that your feet rest flat on the floor or on a footrest and your thighs are parallel to the floor.
Remove your cellphone or wallet from your back pocket when you are sitting to avoid putting extra pressure on your lower back or buttocks.
Treat back pain
This is the best back pain treatment, but you also need to remain active and if necessary, use painkillers. The longer you are immobile, the weaker your back muscles will become, and the more they will hurt in the long term, so don’t go to bed because of back pain.
Massage is another effective way to treat back pain. You can use this massage pillow by attaching it to your office chair.
Listen to your body
If you must sit for prolonged periods, change your position often. Periodically walk around and gently stretch your muscles to relieve tension.
The bottom line
Back pain can plague your free time and workdays. Examine your work environment and address situations that might aggravate your back. It pays to prevent back pain at work than treating back pain.