Back pain, my friends, is no fun. It’s notoriously difficult to treat; we all know someone who has had a bunch of procedures and has been given a ton of pills but is still in pain.
A lot of talk about back pain focuses on the home, but you can be doing yourself zero favors at your job, too. A study published in the The Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics found that back pain at work was very common, particularly in older workers (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5530370/). To help prevent yourself from staying or becoming part of this statistic, here’s what you can do right now.
Adjust your desk and chair
Your spine’s natural curve should be supported, so use a chair with lumbar support. You can also used a rolled-up towel or pillow behind your back to create lumbar support. Make sure your chair is at a height that allows you to keep your feet on the floor and your knees at 90 degrees. If changing the height isn’t an option, use a phone book or foot rest to get there. Your monitor should be at or just below your eye level and at arms’ length. This positioning will encourage you to sit back in the chair instead of leaning forward, which strains your neck and can bother your back in turn.
Get yourself moving
People are supposed to move. Standing or sitting in one position through your entire workday can really mess with your body. Take short breaks once each hour to get water, go to the bathroom or just stretch. Stretching for just a minute can help push off the negative effects that come with sitting, which include weakening back muscles.
Researchers have suggested that people spend about half of their work hours standing up. If you don’t have a workstation where you can sit or stand, you may not be able to reach this goal, but you can do little things that will add up throughout the day. Using exercise, such as sit-ups, yoga and pilates, can help boost your core muscles and improve your posture, which in turn can reduce back pain.
Rethink your phone calls
Don’t rest your phone between your shoulder and head to free your hands up while talking. This strains your shoulders and neck. Instead, use a speakerphone or headset for longer conversations or hold the phone in your hand while switching sides throughout the conversation.
You only get one back, and it can be tough to handle pain there. Adjust your work routine to help ease your back pain or, better yet, prevent it from happening in the first place!