How To Improve Working Habits To Relieve Back Pain
People who work in an office or at a computer are more likely to suffer from chronic back pain than those with physically demanding jobs.
Making a few small adjustments to your work environment and working habits can make a huge difference to relieve back pain. Follow these tips to correct common bad habits.
Posture is Key
The biomechanics of the body function best when properly aligned. Just like the gears on a bicycle or engine on a car, the body runs best with good posture.
- Stack up: Be sure your head is stacked directly over your shoulders and your shoulders over your hips This will help keep muscles of your chest and core in balance with back and shoulder muscles.
- Ergonomics: Make sure work surfaces are at a comfortable height. Keep your monitor at eye level and an arm’s length away. This encourages you to sit back, not on the edge of your chair or hunched over the screen, and reduces neck strain. If possible, set up a sit-stand workstation and alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day.
- Use a headset: If possible, use a headset while on the phone for conversations lasting longer than 5 minutes, or for frequent phone use. Avoid holding a telephone between your ear and shoulder, as this causes unnecessary strain and imbalances muscle symmetry.
- Mouse positioning: A seemingly minor but common habit: the mouse works itself halfway across the desk, causing you to extend past comfort for use and straining or stressing neck and shoulder muscles. Ideally, keep your elbow below your shoulder and hand slightly less than 90 degrees.
Movement During Work
Motion is key to relieving back pain, and is an important part of any healthy workplace.
- Switch positions often: You should shift sitting positions at least every 45 minutes. You can stretch in a seated or standing position to keep muscles and tissues free and pliable, increasing blood flow and decreasing pain-causing strain in a fixed position for long periods of time. Stretching for just 60 seconds is enough to offset the negative effects of sitting.
- Feet first: Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes. If you need to have heels or dress shoes on, keep a pair of flats stashed under your desk to use while at your workstation. Danskos, Keen, and New Balance are easily sourced options.
- Lifting: At home or on the job , don’t try to lift objects that are too heavy. Lift from the knees and legs, not with your back. Pull the stomach muscles in, keep the head level and in line with a straight back. Keep objects close to the body and do not twice when lifting. If you’re debating whether something is too heavy to lift alone, the answer is YES. Grab a friend to assist, or wait until someone is available.
Mechanical back pain is typically the result of bad habits. Work on improving these habits each day to improve your body’s mechanical alignment and feel the results.