Chronic back pain is becoming all too common for those of us who work in offices day in and day out. Surprisingly, office workers are more likely to suffer from chronic back pain than workers with physically demanding jobs. Changing how your body is positioned throughout the work day can help alleviate office-related back pain. Here’s how:
Choose the Right Chair
Finding the right desk chair can minimize common issues like low back pain, shoulder stiffness and neck strain. This is because sitting is a static position increases stress in the back, shoulders, arms and legs. Choosing an ergonomic office chair can help maximize back support and maintain good posture while sitting. Check out our blog post on the subject here then take a look at this review of the best office chairs of 2015.
Adjust the Chair to Fit You
Once you have found the perfect chair, it still needs to be adjusted to your specific physical proportions. Here are five simple steps to ensure that your chair is as comfortable as possible and will cause the least amount of stress to your spine:
- Arm height: Sit in your chair as close as is comfortably possible to your desk so that your upper arms are parallel to your spine. Next, rest your hands on your desk and adjust your chair so that your elbows are at 90-degree angle.
- Leg height: You should be able to easily slide your fingers under your thigh at the front edge of your office chair. If you can’t, lower your chair height or employ an adjustable footrest to raise your feet. If there is more space between you and your chair, raise your chair.
- Chair depth: Sitting all the way back in your chair, try to fit your clenched fist between the back of your calf and the front of your chair. If you can’t, your chair is too deep and you should adjust the backrest forward or insert a pillow for low back support.
- Low back support: You should sit all the way back in your chair and have support on your back that directly corresponds to your lower back arch. If you find yourself slumping forward through the course of the day, your chair’s lumbar support is not adjusted correctly, or you have the wrong chair for you.
- Armrest: Adjust the armrest of your chair so that your shoulders are slightly lifted. This takes some of the strain off your upper spine and shoulders and should make you less likely to slouch forward.
Position Your Computer Screen Correctly
Another cause of office back pain is incorrectly positioned computer screens. Your computer screen should be at eye level so that your straight forward gaze hits the center of the screen. If your monitor is too low, raise it with an adjustable stand or buy a monitor that is adjustable itself. Having your computer screen positioned straight ahead reduces strain on your upper spine.
No matter how comfortable your office chair is or how well your computer is positioned, sitting too long in any position is bad for your back. Prolonged static posture is a common contributor to back problems and muscle strain. To avoid this, remember to take a break from sitting every 30 minutes. Standing, stretching and walking around, even if only for a few seconds at a time, can ease the stress on your back, shoulders and neck. Aim for moving more at the office to help keep your joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons loose and pain free.