Most people have an episode of lower back pain at some point in their lives. Not surprisingly, back pain is a leading cause of workplace disability claims. If your pain lasts longer than three months, it’s considered chronic pain.
Before you consider spending hours in physical therapy or having surgery, consider some relatively easy ways to help you lessen lower back pain at work. Here are five ways to reduce and possibly eliminate lower back pain while at work.
Change your posture
If your job keeps you working at a computer for eight hours a day or more, check your posture. Are you slouching forward in your chair or at a standing desk, with your neck and shoulders hunched over? Perhaps you’re leaning backward, and your spinal cord is curving into a convex shape. No wonder your back hurts.
When you bend forward or slouch down in your chair, you’re straining the discs and ligaments in your spine. Over a period of time, this poor posture can harm your spine and cause lower back pain.
If you work while standing at an elevated desk, stand straight with your body weight distributed evenly. Avoid leaning forward or rocking backward on your heels.
New research points to sitting at a 135-degree angle in an office chair as the best position for your lower back. You’re slightly tilted back. Traditional guidance recommends sitting straight up at a 90-degree angle. Whichever angle you choose, make sure you have lower back support.
Invest in an ergonomic chair for office work
An ergonomic office chair is a “must” if you work on a computer. It’s a great tool that helps you avoid lower back pain. Ergonomic chairs have a curve toward your body where your lower back begins, offering built-in lumbar support.
You can adjust your ergonomic chair to help you keep the proper posture while at your computer. Move the chair up or down until you’re able to place your feet flat on the floor with your knees at a 90-degree angle. Your elbows should be bent at a 90-degree angle when your fingers are on the keyboard. This posture keeps your shoulders from hunching forward.
Use a headset for phone conversations
Do you hold the phone between your ear and shoulder while you’re multitasking at a desk or in a warehouse? Doing this repeatedly can result in lower back pain. Put the phone on speaker and be hands-free for phone calls. If you’re not in a private setting, use a headset to avoid the inevitable crick in the neck from babysitting your phone.
Medical experts agree that sitting for much of the day is bad for you. You may inadvertently revert to poor posture and place a heavy strain on your spine.
Too, when you’re sedentary much of the time, your hip flexor muscles become shorter, and the longer they stay in one position, the more they want to stay there. One part of the body affects another, and in this case, hip flexors that have contracted can cause lower back pain as the rest of your body compensates to help you move.
Researchers suggest taking a micro-break for one or two minutes every half hour. Get up, get water, walk around the office, or stretch. If possible, try to alternate between sitting and standing while working on your computer.
Exercise to strengthen your core
Do you exercise your core muscles? Doctors say if you don’t, now is the time to start. When you strengthen your abdominal muscles, it can alleviate strain on your lumbar spine.
Call San Diego Sports Medicine & Orthopaedic Center or book an appointment through our online portal for expert treatment of lower back pain and your other orthopaedic needs.