One-half of all people working in America will complain of back pain this year, and it is one of the most common reasons for missed work. Back pain can be debilitating. However, whether you have a sedentary desk job, or you are physically active all day, there are three easy ways you can stop back pain at work.
The first and most important thing all people can do is to have an ergonomic workstation. Ergonomics is the way people interact with things safely and efficiently to minimize effort and stress. People will spend $10,000 dollars on a mattress that they spend 6-8 hours a day in, yet rarely want to spend more than $100 dollars on a desk chair that they will spend 8-12, or more, hours in per day. If you have a desk job, you want a chair with good lumbar support, or use a cushion in the low back. You want to make sure that you are looking straight at your computer, not up or down. Even slight screen height changes can greatly affect the gravitational forces on your spine and surrounding muscles. It is also important to have both feet flat on the ground, not dangling. If you have a standing job, take pressure off your low back by putting one foot up onto a stool.
The next easy way to stop back pain is to move. Your body does not like to be in one position all day. The advice I like to give patients is to set your cell phone alarm for 20-30 minutes. Every time the alarm goes off, they need to either walk for a few minutes or do some exercises to get circulation flowing and muscles moving. When you resume work, restart that timer.
The third easy way to stop back pain is to stretch. Whether it is in the morning, night, or every 20-30 minutes at work, your back pain will significantly diminish if you add some amount of stretching into your daily routine. Most people with desk jobs will have tight hip flexors and quadriceps from sitting all day. These muscles will pull on the front of your pelvis, causing you to over-arch your back. The other big muscle group that contributes to low back pain are the hamstrings, which are in the back of your thighs.
If you follow these three easy steps, you should notice your back pain easing up quite a bit. If you are unsure about how to do any of the stretches, how to set up your desk properly, or continue to have pain, contact our office, or see another physical therapist whom you trust.