Although not normally representative of a serious medical condition, back pain can be very debilitating and change an individual’s quality of life as well as impacting upon working life and close relationships with family and friends.
There are many causes of back pain such as overuse of muscles, poor posture or incorrect lifting or twisting. Sometimes there is no apparent cause and people can suddenly just have symptoms. The best way is to avoid back problems occurring in the first instance and there are many activities that will help the avoidance of back pain.
Not only does sitting in one position for long periods exacerbate back problems, sitting incorrectly at a desk or computer has been shown to be a major cause of back pain in the workplace.
To reduce the likelihood of back pain from long periods of sitting:
- Sit up straight, make sure your lower back is supported and your knees are level with your hips
- Make sure the top of your computer screen is at eye level
- Make sure your chair is adjustable so you can change the height to suit your individual needs
- Your wrists and forearms should be straight, and your elbows should form an L-shape by the side of your body when using a keyboard; adjust your chair height to ensure this happens.
- Position your mouse as close to you as possible
- Place objects that you use often within easy reach to avoid overstretching or twisting.
- If you spend a significant amount of time on the telephone, make sure you use a handset.
To reduce your risk of back pain from the workplace
- Keep as mobile as possible by avoiding sitting for long periods of time and varying your seated position.
- Try to move around at least once an hour and stretch occasionally to avoid muscular stiffness.
- Speak to your manager about an ergonomic assessment to ensure your desk is at the optimum settings to avoid back discomfort.