Our bodies are designed to be active. Unfortunately, many people spend their workday sitting at desks for long periods of time which can lead to back pain and other issues. By making a few simple changes to your work routine you can alleviate back pain. Having helped numerous clients with back pain problems associated with long periods of sitting here are a few ways you can make a change at your workplace to prevent these issues.
Correct your posture
Your sitting posture has a direct impact on how your back feels throughout the day. Keeping your back in proper alignment can minimize the stress put on your lower back. When sitting at your desk keep your head upright balanced on the lower spine instead of leaning forward. You want to keep your head and neck directly over your shoulders for good posture.
Rest your feet firmly on the floor. If your chair is too high, consider getting a footrest. Avoid crossing your legs because this can cause the overstretching of your muscles resulting in discomfort and pain.
Posture is also important if you perform other tasks at work like lifting boxes. When lifting anything be sure to bend at your knees and lift with your legs. Bending over at your waist will put stress on the lower back and potentially cause muscle tightness and disc issues.
Even when sitting at your desk with good posture, prolonged sitting can cause discomfort. It can also irritate any existing back problems like sciatica. Working in an office requires you to sit for long periods of time but it is important to take breaks to get up and move. Stand up from your desk at least once every hour. This can be to go to the bathroom, get a drink or even do a few stretches just as long as you get some movement in.
Pay attention to your body to determine when to take your breaks. If you notice a tightness in your back or shoulders, then it is time to move around and stretch your muscles.
Wear comfortable shoes
If you are constantly walking around your office, choose comfortable shoes. For women, this means ditching the high heels. High heels can have a negative effect on the alignment of your spine which harms your posture. Even if you are sitting for long periods of time, high heels can still affect your posture by changing the angles of your knees. Supportive shoes will improve your back comfort and help alleviate pain when standing for long periods.
Adjust your work area
A comfortable chair that supports your back can minimize pain while you work. Adjust the height of the chair to be eye level with your monitor. You don’t want to be looking up or down at your screen because doing so can strain your neck, back and shoulders. Adjust the tilt position of your chair to find a comfortable position. If the chair has a lumbar support system, adjust this so that it fits comfortably against your lower back. This will add even more support to your back and help ease any pain or discomfort.
If you don’t like sitting all day you may want to consider a standing desk. There are many desks that can change from sitting to standing. A standing desk allows you to switch up your positioning throughout the day.
A few simple changes to how you work will help alleviate back pain and sore muscles associated with poor posture. Remember to adjust your seats, walk around, stretch, and wear the proper footwear to help with any back issues you may be having. If you notice your back not getting relief and are still suffering from back pain, contact your local physical therapist to discuss treatment options.
Author: Noah Arenson is a partner and Certified Physical Therapist at Contact Physical Therapy in Mesa, Arizona. Arenson earned his Master’s degree at Northern Arizona University’s Physical Therapy program and has been practicing in the Valley since 1997. Arenson was named Mesa General Hospital’s “Employee of the Year” in 1999.