When you’re in a meeting, taking notes, or just sitting at your desk doing work, the last thing you want to worry about is your back. But sometimes our backs can feel more uncomfortable than we ever expected because we don’t have the best office chair for long hours or something else; some pain may be brought on by poor posture due to learned bad habits. In fact, back problems have been found to be among the leading causes of job-related injury and temporary disability in North America.
If you’re facing troubles with your back while working at a desk every day, there are solutions that can help keep it healthy and happy. Here are some tips that may help:
- Get a comfortable chair
Many people work at desk jobs, so comfort is important because it can help you sit upright with good posture and not worry about it hurting your back or shoulders. The chair should also be adjustable in height to support the natural curvature of your lower back and hips. If you feel you need to sit on something extra-comfortable, a memory foam seat cushion can help, but it’s not required. Your current chair might have one already, so check for memory foam seating in case your boss has purchased a new mid century office chair for you!
- Adjust your chair properly
Conventional wisdom says to sit with your thighs at 90 degrees to the ground – but this may actually increase your back pain. Instead, have your legs about 30 degrees bent with a slight bend in the knee. This keeps your spine straight, reduces strain on muscles of the back and can improve posture if you have bad habits.
- Sit up straight
While sitting upright is important, slouching makes a bad habit that can cause problems later! Try to tilt slightly forward while sitting, or keep an upright post or an object you can lean against behind you at work. You can also combat bad habits by wearing a posture neck support device, as shown above in the picture of the device we reviewed and recommended.
- Keep your arms at a 90-degree angle
Having your arms at a 90-degree angle may be the best way to keep your back in a neutral position. If you must work on a keyboard and mouse, the ideal method is to work with the upper arms parallel to the floor, not slanted out or forward. This eliminates excessive and repetitive bending of your wrists and also keeps your shoulders straight, which prevents injury or strain during long hours of working.
- Do some stretches in between tasks
If you find that working behind a desk all day is causing you too much pain to sit upright comfortably, try doing some exercises or stretching in between activities. These can help stretch and loosen your back muscles, so you’re no longer feeling pain.
- Get up and move around a little bit
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and sit at your desk for long periods of time without getting up. One way to combat this is to set an alarm on your phone every two hours or so that reminds you to get up for a short break for about 5 minutes or so. Get up and stretch your legs, walk around, grab a cup of water, anything that lets you rest your feet and back. Sitting down again will refresh you enough to carry on with the work you need to do.
- Make sure you’re eating healthy as well
If you’re constantly sitting down at a desk, it can be tough on your digestion. Try to eat healthier foods in the morning and throughout the day that are rich in fiber to keep your digestive system healthy. You’ll also feel less sluggish and more energized than if you were eating junk food or fast food options during lunch time.
To sum it up
If you’re on a deadline for a project or your boss is breathing down your neck to get some work done, it may be hard to take the time out to pop in a yoga DVD or take a walk around the block. But if you find that these simple strategies aren’t helping with your back pain, see if you can see your doctor about it before going on long-term disability. Many people neglect their back until something serious happens, but there are easy ways to help prevent this!