Back pain is one of the most common work-related injuries and can make it hard for people to concentrate properly on their work. Understanding back pain and the principles of ergonomics can help prevent work related back pain and injury and help increase productivity and maintain a healthy back. Sitting at an office chair for hours every day can potential cause low back pain or worsen an existing back problem.
One study, published in the Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found that, “the more time people spent sitting, the greater their risk of death from heart disease — regardless of age, sex, smoking status, alcohol consumption and how much the subjects exercised.”
The good news? There are simple things you can do to prevent back pain and to keep your back in good condition.
Why Does Sitting Cause Back Pain?
Sitting in an office chair, or in general can cause back pain because the static posture increases stress in the back, shoulders, arms, and legs. In addition, it adds a large amount of pressure to the back muscles and spinal discs.
The natural tendency for many people is to slouch in the chair, and this posture can overstretch the spinal ligaments and strain the discs and surrounding structures in the spine. Over time, incorrect posture can damage spinal structures and contribute to back pain.
Tips to Reduce Back Pain at the Office
Practice Proper Posture
If you are going to spend a lot of time sitting, it is a good idea to invest in an ergonomic office chair. When used properly, it can help you maximize back support and maintain good posture while sitting. Make sure you are sitting close enough to the desk so you do not have to reach for your keyboard or mouse. Also, adjust your chair so that you can plant your feet while sitting. Adjust your monitor so your neck is in a neutral position.
Get Up and Move
Take short breaks during the day to do some stretches or take a short walk during your lunch hour. Try standing while making phone calls. Suggest walking meetings with co-workers. Getting up from your desk every hour changes the stress placed on one particular muscle group to maintain the seated position and can avoid muscle strain.
Try Alternative Chairs and Desks
Try switching out your traditional office chair with a kneeling chair or exercise ball, or a standing desk.
These alternatives help promote good posture without a back support. They also require more active use of one’s muscles.
To reduce and help prevent back pain – stand up, sit less, move more! If you do find yourself with chronic back pain that just won’t go away, we do recommend you schedule an appointment with a doctor to find out the root cause of your pain.