Taking Care of Your Back at Work

Here are a few tips that can help reduce back pain from sitting at a desk all day.

Woman sitting at desk takes a moment to stretch and relieve back pain. How to alleviate back pain at work

If you suffer from back pain, you’re certainly not alone. The Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University reports that nearly 65 million adults have experienced episodic back pain, and it’s among the most frequent complaints made to doctors.

The same study reports that the costs associated with back pain total more than $12 billion annually. If you sit at a desk all day, you may find that your back feels tight and sore at the end of your workday.

Follow these tips to reduce the pain you experience and keep your back feeling good.

Improve your posture

The way you sit and stand impacts how your back feels because posture plays a significant role in your spinal alignment. When you stand up straight with your chin up and your feet flat on the ground, your bones and vertebrae in your spine are more aligned and balanced.

If you tend to slouch when sitting at your desk all day, you’ll likely feel it in your upper and lower back. Do frequent check-ins with yourself and think about a straight line that passes through your body from the top of your head to the bottoms of your feet, pulling your head up and keeping your back straight. This mental imagery can help you realign your spine and improve your posture.

Related: How Your Posture at Work Affects Your Body

Invest in an ergonomic desk chair (and set it properly)

If you spend eight hours a day at your desk, it’s worthwhile to invest in a chair that will provide ample support and make it easier to sit up straight. Ergonomic desk chairs are designed to maximize back support and help you maintain your posture when you’re sitting down.

However, simply buying the chair isn’t enough to help reduce your back pain. You also need to adjust the chair based on your height and the height of your workstation. Your rear should be pressed into the back of the chair and the cushion of the seat should force your lower back to arch just slightly.

When you sit down, your gaze should be aimed directly at the center of your computer screen to prevent neck strain. You also need to adjust the armrests of the chair so that they lift your arms just slightly at the shoulders, which will reduce the strain put on your shoulders and upper spine.

Take regular stretch breaks

Taking a few moments throughout the day to stretch can help reduce the strain that comes from sitting in the same position for hours at a time. Whether you work from home or in an office setting, you can take short breaks to stretch and strengthen your back. Even just walking around for a few seconds can offset the negative effects that come from remaining in a seated position all day.

In addition to stretching often, make sure to stay active and engage in exercises that can help strengthen the muscles in your core and back. One of the benefits of regular exercise and a healthy body is improved posture, which can reduce the risk of back pain and injury.

Related: 7 Ways to Alleviate Back Pain

Although not all back pain is attributed to poor posture and sitting in a chair for prolonged periods of time, many people can experience a reduction in pain by stretching, improving their posture, and making a few lifestyle changes. With these tips in place, you may find that back pain is no longer a complaint at your next doctor’s visit.

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