As humans, our bodies were not designed to sit all day. It’s bad for our hearts, our intestines, and most commonly, our back. And it’s not just the long periods of time spent in uncomfortable office chairs; it’s slumping, slouching, and poor posture that aggravates the alignment of our spine, leading to musculoskeletal health risks. In fact, back pain is one of the most prevalent musculoskeletal issues plaguing Americans.
Sitting at your desk all day can also cause neck pain, lead to a slower metabolism, and in some cases, organ damage, or bone density loss. There are two main areas to focus on when you want to ease back pain from your desk job; your workstation and office-appropriate exercises.
Your Ergonomic Workstation
Creating an ergonomic workstation can do wonders for your musculoskeletal system. A good working posture not only alleviates back pain but even improves employee productivity. There are three main areas of a workstation:
- Your Monitors. Align your monitors in such a way that you can look straight ahead and not have to adjust your neck angle to view your screen. You should be able to look straight ahead and see the centermost point of your monitor without rotating or flexing your neck. Consider a monitor stand if you need additional height for your screens.
- Your Chair. The height of your chair should be set according to your body and posture. This means sitting tall with your forearms parallel to the ground and resting on your desk. Your feet should be able to rest on the floor.
- Your Desk. The height of your desk should complement the height of your chair. If your desk is too high, your shoulders will be pushed into an unnatural ‘shrug’ position. If the desk is too low, your spine will curve forward in a forced slouch. Consider a standing desk or high-top table to add a fully upright option to your workday.
Your Office-Based Exercises
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four Americans sit for over eight hours a day. With sitting becoming “the new smoking” it’s important to reduce as much of the negative side effects of sitting as possible. Here are three office-based exercise options you can do without interrupting your day.
- From the Chair. Without leaving your chair, you can reduce a stiff and sore spine with these simple movements:
- Arching your back
- Shrugging your shoulders
- Rotating your neck and spine
- Stretching your arms over your head or behind you
- From the Floor. The floor can provide the stable surface you need to leverage full-body movements that ease back pain from your desk job. Try these simple floor exercises:
- While lying on your back, slowly bring one knee up toward your chest and hold for a few seconds, then switch legs.
- While lying on your back, bring the knee up and over, twisting your lower spine, and hold for a few seconds, then switch legs.
- Kneel on the floor with your toes together and your knees hip-width apart, lower your torso between your knees. Place your arms alongside your torso with your palms facing down.
- From the Office. It’s important to give your body a break from the havoc of sitting at your desk all day. Set an alarm for every two hours to move for two minutes. You can:
- Go outside and walk a few laps around your building.
- Take an elevator up a few floors then take the stairs down.
- Walk to your car or parking lot and back.
Back pain from your desk job doesn’t have to be a certainty. Implementing positive changes to your workstation and office-appropriate exercise to your workday can help stave off dreaded back pain and other sitting-induced health consequences.
If you are already experiencing back pain from your desk job, complete the Oasis Pain Assessment and our experts will assess your pain to help you find your path to a pain-free life.