How to reduce back pain at work

With many of us sitting at a desk for long periods during the day, staring at a computer screen, it’s no wonder that a high percentage of office workers find themselves suffering from back problems. Not only do we sit all day at a computer, but we often go home and spend our evenings and weekends doing the same. Even children at school now spend hours of their time sat in front of a PC or laptop

According the NHS, around 7.6 million working days were lost due to work-related back pain from 2010 – 2011. Back pain for office workers is a real problem.

The way you sit, the position of your computer, height of your chair, and how often you take breaks, can all help lessen the chances of suffering from back problems now, or later in life. Sitting at a computer for long periods causes compression in your lower back and at the point where your neck meets your shoulders, leading to stiffness and pain. This only gets worse over time if you don’t take steps to look after yourself.

So what can you do to tackle stiffness and back pain caused by sitting at a desk all day?

  1. Take regular breaks – You need to get up at least every two hours and move around, make sure you stretch out your back, lean forward and touch your toes to separate the vertebra. Taking regular breaks is not just good for your spine, it also gives your eyes and brain a much needed rest.
  2. Take some time to exercise – This has so many benefits over and above helping with back pain. Taking regular exercise, particularly if it involves a lot of stretching such as yoga and Pilates, can counteract the pressure put on your spine when sitting for long periods.
  3. Your workspace – Is it set up correctly?
    • Does your office chair support your lower back? If not, it might be time to invest in a support pad or a decent chair (depending on the budget available to you).
    • Is your monitor at the right height? If you are looking up or down at your monitor it will be putting a strain on your neck which will radiate down to your lower back. If you are like many office workers today and use more than one monitor, are you able to move between displays without swivelling or straining your neck and putting pressure on your vertebra?
    • Are your feet both resting comfortably on the floor or on a foot rest? Sitting with your legs crossed causes your spine to twist which can cause it to ache.
    • Is your desk large enough for you to rest your forearms when you type? This allows you to balance yourself so that you are sitting up straight while you type, a better posture for your back and neck.
    • Your posture – Are you sitting correctly? Spend some time noticing just how you are sitting, what is you posture like? If you are slumping or leaning over your desk, you are putting unnecessary pressure on your lower back. Sitting up straight restores the natural curve of the spine and lessens any pressure on the vertebra that could lead to back and neck pain and problems.

Many of us spend a lot of time behind a desk at work, so it’s worth taking these tips on board for yourself and your employees. Your health is important and, by taking the simple steps in this post, you can greatly reduce your risk of suffering from back problems in the future.

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