Person holding their back at an office desk

10 ways to prevent back pain in the office

When you’re spending eight hours a day at your computer, it’s highly likely that you’ll experience aches, pains, and twinges in your back!

Four out of five adults experience back pain at some point. And a sedentary lifestyle sitting at a desk can make back pain a lot worse.

Whether working from home or commuting to the office, here are ten ways to protect yourself against back pain.

1. Improve your posture

Slouching and hunching when sitting can strain your muscles and cause your spine to bend. Sit up straight, keep your back against your chair, relax your shoulders, and keep your feet flat on the floor.

Alternatively, a posture-correcting t-shirt can help you adopt a better stance in the office.

2. Pull your chair close to your computer

Leaning forward to reach your keyboard and mouse can exert pressure on your back, leading to back pain. Removing the armrests on your chair can give you additional space if needed.

3. Reposition your chair

Your eyes should gaze at the centre of your computer screen to reduce strain on your spine – this may mean adjusting your chair higher or lower. Ask your health and safety team to perform a Display Screen Equipment (DSE) assessment to ensure your workstation is configured correctly.

4. Avoid reaching for things

Reaching and twisting for items at your desk can lead to back strain. Keep everything you need, like pens, files, and phones, close by.

5. Get up and stretch

Take a break from your desk for five minutes every hour. Grab yourself a drink, go for a comfort break, or say hello to a work colleague!

6. Breathe easily

Stress causes your breathing patterns to change which can tense up your back. Take time to recharge, learn some simple breathing exercises, and take care of yourself. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, speak to your manager or HR department.

7. Invest in a hands-free headset

Talking on the phone for long periods can lock the shoulders, leading to back pain. Switching to a speakerphone or using a headset can take the pressure off.

8. Ask for a standing desk

Studies have shown that standing desks improve back pain by forcing you to improve your posture. However, your standing desk must be set up correctly; otherwise, it might worsen your back pain.

9. Stay hydrated

Drinking water cushions the spinal discs between the vertebrae, helping relieve pain. Plus, walking to the water cooler gives you the chance to stretch!

10. Take your lunch break

While eating a sandwich at your desk might be tempting, your lunch break is a fantastic opportunity to go for a walk. Walking is a low-impact way to relieve back pain, strengthen your muscles, and reduce stress too.  

A few simple changes around the office can significantly reduce back pain and make work feel like a nicer place to be! 

Don’t forget, if you’re experiencing severe back pain or chronic back pain that won’t go away after several months; it’s always best to speak to your GP.

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