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How to prevent back pain in the workplace

Posted on: 09 Oct 2019, admin

This week is Back Pain Week, so we thought we’d focus on an issue that affects millions, and provide some useful tips that can be employed at work. 

A huge number of UK office workers spend between four to nine hours sat at their desk each day… that’s a long time to spend in one position! For those of us with sedentary jobs that require little to no movement, it’s easy to get lost in the endless stream of emails, meetings and conference calls, and neglect our own physical wellbeing in the process.

However, it’s vital that we find time in our busy schedules to look after ourselves, exercise and, well, breathe. If you have questions surrounding your workspace and want to know what you can do to prevent back pain, look no further. 

So, reader, have your notepad at the ready, relax your shoulders and uncross your legs: here are 5 preventative measures that can be taken to mitigate the risks of back pain. You’re welcome!

#1 Ergonomic workstation  

It may seem obvious, but the positioning of your desk, chair and computer is vital when it comes to preventing back pain. Follow these steps to ensure you’re supporting your back properly: 

  • Make sure your chair allows your back to rest against a lumbar support.
  • Your mouse should be close to your keyboard, so you’re not having to overreach or move your shoulder to much. 
  • Your monitor should be about 2–3 inches above eye level. 
  • Make sure your torso is about an arm’s length away from the screen.

#2 Sit properly

Keep your head straight (as much as possible) and shoulders relaxed. If you work with a laptop, consider using a stand, to avoid slouching. Similarly, check the font size on the screen is big enough so you’re not leaning in and squinting.

Most of us hold tension in our shoulders when we’re stressed or anxious. Try some simple shoulder rolls and move your head slowly from side to side, to relax the muscles. 

Self-massage is a great way to release any tension. Start at the top of your neck just beneath your hairline, and use your middle and forefingers to massage downwards in a circular motion. 

#3 Avoid twisting your spine and crossing your legs

Many of us have a habit of crossing our legs, which can lead to joint issues, knee pain and lower back problems. While sitting down, try and keep both feet flat on the floor to relieve tension and maintain good alignment in the spine. 

When you speak with colleagues who sit on either side of your workspace, try to avoid twisting your spine or neck. Instead, turn your whole body so you’re facing them completely. It may seem odd at first, but it’ll become second-nature in no time.

#4 Go for a walk   

I know, you’ve probably heard it so many times before, but exercise – and walking – really is good for you. It’s unhealthy to be sat in the same position all day long. 

Our bodies need movement, whether that’s a simple walk around the office, a brisk stroll in the park or a lunchtime run, it all contributes to improving overall wellbeing and health. It’s also a great stress-buster!

#5 And breathe…

Sounds obvious, right? The truth is, most of us forget to breathe regularly and this can impact the core muscles which support the lower back. 

Try some breathing exercises to refocus and get back into a regular breathing pattern. Here are five exercises you can do at your desk. 

If employers would like more information on wellbeing, and how to best support staff, there are a number of trusted sources such as The CIPD report on Health and Wellbeing at Work

Looking for work? Register with us today and we can help you on your path to a new job – simply call 01908 200270 or 01604 439380.