If Your Back Hurts at Work Try These Tips Today
If you work a sedentary office job, you’ll probably be spending most of the day sitting down at a desk. Being in one position for too long will inevitably lead to back pain, with muscle stiffness and tension causing considerable discomfort.
Even before the pandemic, office workers were liable to experiencing back pain. Now, with more people working from home and using rudimentary office equipment, reports of back pain have increased. Research shows that 71% of those surveyed complained of new or worsening aches and pains while working remotely during COVID-19.
Thankfully, the back pain experienced from sedentary working can be avoided. Below we investigate why we might have back pain when working and what we can do to combat it.
What Causes Back Pain?
One common cause of back pain when working is posture. People tend to shift posture when working, meaning even if you begin the day sitting correctly, you’ll likely start to slouch or lean forward towards your computer as the day goes on. This causes strain on your spine and neck. Fatigue can cause people to slouch, but it can also be caused by where your equipment sits on your workstation. If your screen isn’t in the right place, you may need to hold your head, neck, and shoulders in an uncomfortable position, which can lead to strain. Not having the right type of chair, for example, if you’re working from home and using a dining chair, sofa, or your bed to work, can also put a strain on your back.
Staying in one position for too long can also cause back pain. This applies to both sitting and standing – if one group of muscles is put under too much pressure for too long, the tension can cause aches. You might also experience spinal nerve pain if too much pressure is put on your vertebrae for too long, which can happen if you don’t move or stretch for long periods.
Stress can also cause back and neck pain. When we are stressed, our body goes into ‘fight or flight’ mode which can cause the muscles around our spine to tense. If this happens too frequently, the tension can develop into ongoing back pain. The pain itself can then become a stressor and we can end up in a cycle of pain. This can lead to more problems with our mental wellbeing, like anxiety and depression.
So, bad posture, lack of movement, poor office setup, and even stress can cause back pain. But what can we do to change it?
Preventing Back Pain with Movement
The key solution to back pain from working is movement. As we’ve discussed, being in one position for long periods of time is the main issue with sedentary working. So, by incorporating movement into our daily routine, we can help combat this problem. When we move, different muscle groups will support our bodies, which means we can help support the muscles that might be overworked when we are still.
It might be as simple as walking around when you’re taking a phone call or standing up during online meetings. You can also take breaks to go for a walk, even if it’s just for a minute or two. If you’re in the office, you could walk to speak to a colleague rather than sending them an email. If you’re at home, you could go for a walk around the block, or take a longer walk at lunchtime.
You could also try desk stretches as a way to keep moving throughout the day. These are great if you can only spare a short period of time for movement and can’t stray too far from your desk to go for a walk.
It can be difficult to get into a new routine, especially if you’re used to sitting at your desk to work for hours at a time. Set alarms to make sure you get up from your desk or move position, even just for a stretch. We will naturally want to move after around 20 to 30 minutes in one position, so find a routine that works for you and your work schedule.
When you’re setting up a home office for remote work, you’ll want to make sure you have the right equipment to prevent back pain. Often when we work from home, we use unprofessional equipment which can lead to unhealthy postures. Even if we are working in the office, our workstation may not be set up correctly and prolonged periods working with bad posture can cause aches. This is where ergonomic equipment comes in.
We might think that ergonomic office equipment is only for when we already have aches and pains. But by using the correct tools straight away, we can prevent back pain and other body aches from ever taking hold.
As we know, it’s not only sitting in one position that can cause back pain - standing for too long can also cause problems. So, switching from sitting to a permanent standing desk isn’t the solution. Instead, sit-stand desk converters achieve correct desk ergonomics by combining the benefits of both sitting and standing desks. With a converter, you can switch between standing and sitting at intervals throughout the day, so you won’t stay in one position for too long and put too much strain on certain muscles.
Working with a laptop can put pressure on your spine. If your screen is too low down, you’ll probably have to hunch over your desk to view it properly. When working, your head and neck should be directly above your shoulders, which should also be square on to your screen. A laptop stand can fix the problem, by allowing you to raise the laptop to your eyeline rather than having to bend your body. An adjustable laptop stand means that you can adjust the height to wherever you need it.
Ergonomic Office Chairs
Finding the best office chairs for back pain can be difficult. There’s a lot of choice, but really it comes down to two options – lumbar support or movement. An office chair with added lumbar support can help with back pain, but usually you will be stuck in one position in these types of chairs, which can put strain on your muscles.
Other Ways to Prevent Back Pain
We know that stress can amplify back pain. If you’re taking regular breaks from working to move or stretch, you can help avoid the stress from burnout. But getting a good night’s sleep is also essential to reducing the health problems that come from stress, which includes back and neck pain.
To get a good night’s sleep, avoid caffeine too late in the day and find a relaxing bedtime routine. It’s advised that you shouldn’t use your phone or laptop too close to going to bed, as the light from these devices can make it more difficult to fall asleep. Taking part in a relaxing yoga session before bed can also help promote good sleep, as well as helping with back pain through movement and stretching.
If you’ve been experiencing back pain at work, you’ll need the right equipment to help you keep a good posture and encourage movement throughout the day. Leitz has a huge range of ergonomic products which can help combat back pain, whether in your home office or in the workplace.