Back pain is no joke. Many of us who have jobs that involve working at a computer or at least a desk have experienced it or are likely to at some point in our lives. Left unchecked, it can have pretty serious consequences on our health and productivity, which obviously has knock-on effects for our employers and even the economy. In financial terms, we’re looking at a loss of almost 35,000 dollars per 100 employees - it doesn’t take much to realize that extrapolated across our entire workforce, that’s well into the tens of billions of dollars.
It’s certainly logical to either mitigate back pain as much as possible or just reduce your chances of getting it - as they say, prevention is better than the cure. However, this is easier said than done when you work in an office environment, and if it was obvious, you probably wouldn’t be reading this. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what we can do to reduce back pain in the office.
Make sure you have the right chair
By the right chair, we mean a truly ergonomic one - as ergonomic chairs offer great back support and will reduce back pain. Here are the various features that your chair should have or be able to do:
First up, it should definitely have dedicated armrests that allow you to sit and type with your arms at an angle of around 80-100 degrees. This is the sweet spot where you are supported and not straining to do your work. If you’re not working in this range, try adjusting the height of your chair or the armrests themselves.
The height of the chair is actually very important when it comes to ergonomics. In addition to finding the correct arm position, there are other factors to also take into consideration if you want to avoid aggravating your back. Starting with your feet, make sure that you are able to comfortably place them flat on the floor. Moving up to your knees, these should approximately be at a 90-degree angle. In any case, you should not be straining any leg muscles when in a relaxed, seated position.
Your torso should be leaning back slightly, at an angle of around 95-115 degrees relative to your thighs and your back needs dedicated lumbar support - a garden-variety cushion or pillow isn’t really going to cut the mustard here. Finally, your head should be level at all times when you’re looking at your screen. Your gaze should meet the upper portion of your monitor but the most important factor is that your neck is never craning up or down to look at what should be directly in front of you.
If you are unable to make any or all of these changes, then you should seriously consider investing in a chair that allows you to. As we regularly spend more time in our chair than just about any other place, it’s a prudent and wise move. We’ve been helping people all over the world fight back pain for some time, and all of our ergonomic office chairs are highly adjustable and meet the requirements mentioned.
Consider the task and mix it up
The proper resting seat position is important in back pain prevention but it’s also a good idea to make sure your posture isn’t the same all the time. One way to do this is to change things up alongside your different work tasks. For example, if you’re on a call, adjust the tilt tension of your chair so you can recline back - if you have a head and leg rest like the MyoChair, you can tilt almost horizontally and really get comfortable. You can also try to schedule tasks so that you’ve got an added reason to move around at different points of the day.
Take regular breaks from sitting
Prolonged sitting is a problem in and of itself, but for both it and back pain, moving around regularly is a simple, effective solution. If you need something from a colleague, stand up and go and ask them instead of relying on an instant messenger or phone call - even getting up for a chat will get the blood flowing more than if you’re just sitting down the whole time.
Another way to encourage movement is to avoid having lunch at your desk. Have a destination in mind that’s within reasonable walking distance from your workstation and go eat there. There are no real downsides to doing this. The change of scenery helps break up the day, walking encourages creativity and as a relatively mild form of exercise, has plenty of health benefits.
You don’t actually need to leave your desk to do some meaningful exercise during your workday - you can perform a variety of stretching exercises at your desk. There are many benefits associated with stretching and not just that it’s good for healing and preventing back pain - it’s been linked with improved blood circulation, strengthening of muscles, increased flexibility and it helps with your posture, too.
You can stretch out more or less your entire body while in your chair. This guide covers a lot of the different ‘deskercises’ that cover everything from neck stretches down to your hamstrings and the gifs really help demonstrate how to do them.
There are many things that you can do to help mitigate or prevent back pain but if you don’t have an ergonomic chair with the proper support for your lumbar, then you’re only going to be treading water.
Considering how much time we spend at work nowadays, it makes sense to ensure that the conditions we find ourselves in are optimal and not at all detrimental. It is also logical to get the most out of your ergonomic chair by setting it up correctly for your body - so that all of the exercises, stretching, and breaks are working towards an overall improvement in your wellbeing. The health and productivity benefits speak for themselves.
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