If you work in an office and spend the majority of your day sitting down, you are probably not a stranger to back pain. Sitting at a desk for eight hours a day can lead to stiffness and tension that causes serious discomfort. Between 50 and 80 percent of people will experience back pain at least once in their life, and during a single year about 20 percent of adults suffer from back pain.
Back pain can range from sharp and sudden pain, such as from twisting or moving abruptly, to a constant and dull ache that develops over time. Back pain may be acute, lasting only a few weeks, or chronic, lasting twelve weeks or longer. Lower back pain that lasts between four and twelve weeks is called subacute. In most cases, lower back pain is short-term and will go away naturally with proper self-care. However, about 20 percent of people who experience acute back pain later develop chronic back pain. As a person gets older, they are also more likely to develop back pain and chronic back pain.
When working in an office job, lower back pain can develop from physical inactivity, incorrect posture or a poorly designed workspace. How you move can also aggravate existing back pain. Luckily, by adjusting your workspace and developing healthy habits, you can prevent and reduce back pain at work.
Common Causes of Office Back Pain
When at work we use multiple monitors, writing surfaces, laptops, and devices during the workweek. While back pain can present itself seemingly out of nowhere, you might be able to identify common stressors for your back by analysing your daily routine. Paying attention to the placement of office equipment can help you make a much-needed change for relief. Factors such as the position of your head and shoulders can heighten back pain if your setup is scattered or inefficient. Your head weighs about 12 pounds and takes a lot of muscle strength to support.
Poor posture is one of the most common causes of office back pain. During the workday, a person may slide forward in their chair, slouch or lean towards their computer. Fatigue can also encourage employees to have an overly relaxed posture while sitting or standing. These positions can stretch spinal ligaments too much and stress your spinal discs. Holding a phone between your ear and shoulder for an extended time can also create tension in your spine.
The design of a workspace can also contribute to poor posture or strained movements. If an employee must twist or reach frequently, they are likely to develop back pain. A cramped workspace can also cause tension if employees cannot move freely. Office chairs that do not offer proper lumbar support and other ergonomic features may encourage poor posture that leads to back pain.
Sitting for an extended amount of time without standing or stretching also contributes to office back pain. Experiencing little movement during the day can compress the intervertebral discs in your spine and push the water out of them.
Other factors that may cause office back pain include stress, an unhealthy lifestyle and lack of exercise. Stress and anxiety can lead to muscle tension and may cause a person to perceive their pain more severely. Excess body weight and muscle weakness can also add pressure to your spine and cause back pain.
How To Reduce Back Pain At Work
Office back pain can be prevented by creating proper office ergonomics and improving your posture. Practicing safe movements can also prevent back pain before it starts. If back pain does develop, increasing your activity levels and creating a healthier lifestyle can offer some relief. If you want to prevent or manage back pain at work, consider these five tips for reducing office back pain.
- Create An Ergonomic Workspace
- Choose The Right Office Chair
- Practice Good Posture
- Practice Proper Movements
- Take Frequent Short Breaks
Treatments For Office Back Pain
If you are already experiencing back pain in the office, several home treatments may reduce your lower back pain. Lifestyle changes can also improve your overall health, making it easier to maintain good posture at work. Below are a few tips for treating lower back pain:
- Use hot or cold packs: When experiencing back pain at work, using a cold or hot pack on your back may offer temporary relief. Cold packs can reduce inflammation and numb sore tissues in the back. Hot packs can also help release tension and increase mobility.
- Strengthen your core: Strengthening your abdominal and back muscles can naturally improve your posture and reduce the risk of back pain. A strong core provides better support for your upper body and helps prevent back injuries in the future.
- Stay active: If you spend most of your workday sitting, try to stay active in your free time. Exercise regularly throughout the week instead of exercising only on the weekends. A sedentary week followed by a strenuous workout can lead to injury or pain. When starting an exercise plan, begin slowly and build up to more intense workouts.
- Stretch: Keep your muscles loose by stretching your back and shoulders regularly. Neck and shoulder rolls can also help relieve back tension at work.
- Sleep well: How you sleep during the night can have a big impact on your comfort during the day. Sleep on a firm surface that provides proper support and use a pillow to align your head and shoulders. Sleep on your side or back, rather than on your stomach. To release pressure from your spine, try sleeping on your side with your knees drawn to your chest.
- Eat well: A healthy diet with regular exercise can help reduce excess body weight, which contributes to back pain. Choose a healthy balanced diet to reduce your back pain and live life to the full.
These methods of relieving back pain can be very beneficial for acute and subacute back pain. Chronic back pain or more severe back pain may require additional treatments, such as physical therapy, Chiropractic treatment and massage therapy. Before your back pain becomes serious, take measures to create an ergonomic workspace and practice good habits for spinal health.
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