If you’re one of the millions of American adults who suffer from chronic back pain, your daily office job isn’t doing you any favors. The sooner you can learn how to reduce and prevent back pain at work, the faster you’ll heal.
Understanding Work-Related Back Pain
There’s an epidemic in offices all over America. People are spending the majority of their days, Monday through Friday, sitting down. They’re spending six, seven, or even eight hours per day sitting in a desk chair, slouched forward, staring at a computer screen. And it’s causing serious discomfort, tension, and chronic pain.
Research shows that between 50 to 80 percent of people will experience back pain at some point in their life. And during any given year, approximately one in five adults suffers from back pain. This pain can range from a dull ache or throb to a sharp and sudden pain that occurs when you twist or turn.
Common causes of office back pain include:
- Poor posture. Constantly sliding forward in your chair, leaning toward the computer screen, or slouching can stretch your spinal ligaments and put excessive stress on your spinal discs. Even holding a phone between your ear and shoulder for hours on end can create unwanted tension throughout your spine.
- Sedentary behavior. As mentioned, sitting down for prolonged periods of time and not making time for movement contributes to back pain by compressing intervertebral discs in the spine and pushing fluid out of them. This causes spinal discs to bulge, placing excess pressure on spinal nerves. The result? Numbness, tingling, and radiating pain.
- High stress. While stress and anxiety might not cause back pain, they certainly exacerbate it. If you’re chronically stressed on the job, it can lead to muscle tension, inflammation, and a greater sensitivity to pain.
How to Manage and Reduce Back Pain at Work
Work-induced back pain might be common, but it’s not good. Aside from being uncomfortable, it can lead to long-term issues when not dealt with right away.
Thankfully, there are ways to manage and reduce back pain at work. So let’s go ahead and take a look at a few of them.
1. Add Lumbar Support to Your Chair
If your chair doesn’t already have some built-in lumbar support, you may want to add extra support. Ideally, your chair should support your back’s natural curve. And in order to do this, it should come with an adjustable knob that can tweak the curvature of the chair’s back.
2. Invest in a Standing Desk
Sitting for long periods of time isn’t good for your spine, posture, or circulation. This is why we recommend investing in a standing desk from a company like BTOD.com. A standing desk allows you to easily and effortlessly switch between sitting and standing.
For best results, try standing for every 30 minutes that you sit. So if you sit for five hours per day, you should stand for at least two and a half hours.
3. Stretch Regularly
In addition to alternating between sitting and standing, we recommend stretching throughout the day to ease tension and increase blood flow to tense areas. The goal is to improve mobility and remove pressure from the affected area. We recommend speaking with a chiropractor or physical therapist to get specific suggestions for your unique needs.
3. Adopt a Healthier Lifestyle Outside of Work
The real work comes when you’re not at work. You need to adopt a healthier lifestyle outside of work, so that your body is able to withstand what you put it through during work hours.
The general advice is to get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise and strength training. You should spread this out across at least three days of training.
In addition to working out more, be mindful of what you eat. Eliminate as many processed foods as possible (which can cause inflammation and increase your pain). Instead, focus on fresh, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.
Putting it All Together
There are a number of steps you can take to fight back against back pain. However, if you’re experiencing severe and chronic pain, it’s a good idea to visit your doctor to get an official medical diagnosis. Your doctor can refer you to a good chiropractor or specialist to determine whether there’s a serious problem that needs to be addressed.