How to Avoid Back Pain Caused by Sedentary Jobs

Have recurring back pain and a desk job? Read on!

Computers and machinery have made many types of tedious labor things of the past. The downside to this modernization is an increasing frequency of back ailments caused by continuous hours of sitting on a chair in the office. To prevent back pain which can sometimes develop into a chronic condition, follow these few simple tips.

The first thing you have to determine is whether or not your workspace is ergonomic. For instance, your chair can be a big factor in making or breaking your day. If sitting on your chair becomes sheer torture after a couple of hours, then your chair may not be appropriate for your body.

There are chairs designed with lumbar back support, but every person’s build is different and one size will not fit all. Contrary to what has always been taught to us, sitting with your lap and your spine at a 90-degree angle is not the ideal posture for sedentary work.

The best bio-mechanical posture, as determined by researchers at Scotland’s Woodend Hospital, was one using a 135-degree body-to-thigh position, with the feet planted on the floor and the head and neck at similarly relaxed positions.

The chair, in relation to the equipment you’re working on, should also be positioned strategically. The height of the table, for instance, would matter if you’re using a keyboard. The arms should be in a relaxed position – not lifted too high while typing.

People working on laptops usually have postural issues because the keyboard is attached to the screen. If you raise the screen to eye level, the keyboard is placed at an abnormally high level, resulting in shoulder and back pain.

It’s also important to have your eyes checked. If you have a difficult time reading what’s on the screen, chances are you’ll tend to slouch and move your face nearer to it.

Several times during your workday, stand up to relieve the pressure on your spine. Sitting for extended periods, especially with poor posture, collapses the cartilaginous joints between two adjacent vertebrae and pushes them out of their normal position. This condition is known as a slipped disc, which can be very painful when the herniated disc presses on the nerves near it.

When you are in a slouched position, pressure is also exerted on the neck’s soft tissue, giving you a stiff neck apart from back problems. What you must do is to stand up several times from your seat, preferably once every hour. It’s not enough to just stand and stretch your legs – it’s ideal to also pace the room and stretch not just your limbs but also your neck, torso, and shoulders. If possible, sit on the floor and do several toe-touching exercises.

To compensate for all the sitting you’re doing at your workplace, spend an hour at the gym everyday or a couple of hours during the weekends to exercise. You don’t even have to have a routine. You can engage in tai-chi, ballroom dancing, swimming, or tennis – whatever you find enjoyable. The important thing is that you’re giving your heart a good workout and that your joints are kept rust-free!

Lastly, invest in a lumbar roll which you could use anywhere for spinal support. This is a cylindrical pillow in various sizes that’s wedged between a chair and your back, to keep your spine from curving into the shape of a hammock. You can even improvise one by looking for an appropriately-sized towel and rolling it up into a cylinder which can fill up that curved space in seats.