Guide to Fixing Back Pain While You Work

September 13, 2021 8 min read

Guide to Fixing Back Pain While You Work

Back pain is a common problem among employees in many professions, and if you struggle with pain in your back you are certainly not alone. Back pain, whether it's sharp or achy, can make it difficult to focus. A number of occupations that involve intense physical labor, like factory work and construction, can put significant demands on your back. But even office work can cause back pain. Read on to find out what causes backache in the workplace and how to fix it while you work.

Causes of Back Pain at Work

 

There are a host of factors that can cause back pain at work.

  • A desk job or a sedentary job can cause back pain, particularly if you have poor posture or spend most of the day sitting in a chair without proper back support.
  • Repeating particular movements, particularly those involving rotating or twisting your spine, can cause injuries to your back.
  • Putting too much force on your back, such as by carrying or moving heavy objects, can lead to injury.

Tips for Back Pain Relief at Work

Create a Supportive Work Environment

If you work at a desk job, back pain associated with work is usually because of extended periods of sitting and non-ergonomic furniture. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep your back happy and healthy.

Ergonomic furniture

Setting up your workplace with ergonomic desks and chairs will change your quality of life. Most of us spend a majority of our time sitting; it is not surprising that uncomfortable furniture causes lower back pain.

Ergonomic chair

Even if you own a stand-up desk, you will still spend the majority of your workday sitting in a chair, therefore, it is necessary to buy a good one. Regular chairs tend to flatten the curve of your lumbar spine, causing back pain, whereas an ergonomic chair supports that curve.

Standing desk

As well as an ergonomic chair, consider getting a stand-up desk to allow you to avoid sitting for at least part of your workday. The height of a standing desk is adjustable, so you can adjust it to your specific height as well as easily switching between sitting and standing throughout the day. The movement will enhance blood flow, strengthen your back muscles and rehydrate your discs, preventing backache.

Monitor adjustment accessory

The next thing you should take into account is protecting your neck, head, and eyes. Having a workstation that allows you to maintain a neutral spine is important to your overall spine health. Consider buying a monitor arm, desk shelf, or monitor stand that allows you to work in the position that best supports yourspine. For extra comfort, get an auxiliary screen, an ergonomic mouse, and an independent keyboard.

Working on desks and chairs that are non-ergonomic creates imbalances and weaknesses that increase your risk of developing lower back pain, so having the right equipment is an important first step towards protecting your health.

Move

You should move your body every half an hour or so. Make sure you get out of your chair at least once every hour to walk around.

Do Lower Back Stretches

Stretching workouts can enhance your flexibility and help alleviate your backache. Here are some great stretches that you can do on the floor, sitting, or standing.

Stretches You Can Do on the Floor

1. Supine Piriformis Stretch

  • Lie on your back and lift your knee up towards your chest.
  • Hold your knee with your hands and slowly pull it up across the body towards the opposite shoulder.
  • You should feel a mild stretch in the buttock, hip, and lower back.
  • Hold this position for 20 seconds and repeat 4 times on each side.

2. Double Knee to Chest Stretch

  • Lie on your back and lift your both knees up towards the chest.
  • Hold your knees with your hands and slowly pull them up towards your chest.
  • You should feel a mild stretch in the buttock, hip, and lower back.
  • Hold this position for 20 seconds and repeat 4 times on each side.

3. Single Knee to Chest Stretch

  • Lie on your back and lift your knee up towards your chest.
  • Hold the knee with your hands and slowly pull it up towards your chest.
  • You should feel a mild stretch in the buttock, hip, and lower back.
  • Hold this position for 20 seconds and repeat 4 times on each side.

Stretches You Can Do While Sitting

The most common posture in the workplace is sitting. While seated, there are some exercises you can do to increase your flexibility and alleviate your pain.

1. Hamstring Stretch

  • Place your heel on the ground with your knee straight while in a seated position.
  • Gently lean forward until you feel a stretch behind your thigh.
  • Concentrate the stretch on the hamstring muscles by keeping your low back straight.
  • Hold the pose for 30 seconds, and repeat 4 times on each leg.

2. Knee to Chest Stretch

  • While seated, raise your knee until you can reach it with your hands.
  • Now pull your bent knee up toward the chest using your hands. You should feel a stretch in the back of the hip and lower back.
  • Put your hands behind your knee for comfort.
  • Hold this pose for 20 seconds and repeat 4 times on each side.

3. Lateral Trunk Stretch

  • Lift one arm over your head while seated.
  • Put your other hand on the thigh for support.
  • Now tilt to the opposite side until you feel a stretch along the side of your body.
  • Hold the pose for 20 seconds, and repeat 4 times on each side.

Stretches You Can Do While Standing

Standing is one of the best ways to decrease your risk of experiencing back pain at work. It helps to take breaks to stand and move around even if you have to sit for the whole day long. While you’re standing, you can try these exercises to improve your flexibility and decrease pressure on your lower spine.

1. Standing Quadriceps

  • While standing, hold your desk for support and place one foot up on a chair behind you.
  • You can put your foot on the back, seat, or arm of the chair depending on your flexibility.
  • Ensure your foot on the floor is pointed forward with your knee slightly bent.
  • Now push your pelvis forward and contract your gluteal muscles.
  • You should feel a stretch on the front of your thigh and hip.
  • Hold this pose for 20 seconds, and repeat 4 times on each side.

2. Standing Trunk Extension Stretch

  • Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Put your hands on your lower back for support.
  • Now slowly lean backward until you feel a slight pressure in the lower back and a gentle stretch in your abs.
  • Hold this position for 20 seconds, and repeat it 4 times each session.

Make Lifestyle Changes

  • Smoking: Stop smoking if you smoke. Smoking harms your health in a number of ways, including decreasing the amount of oxygen in your blood and the flow of blood to your spine. According to many studies, people who smoke are at increased risk of musculoskeletal pain.
  • Shoes: Wrong footwear can be associated with back pain, particularly for people who have flat feet. Ensure your shoes have a good heel height, are properly cushioned, and offer arch support.
  • Bed: A poor-quality mattress can negatively affect your back. What’s more, it can reduce the quality of your sleep, which is bad for your overall physical and mental health. We spend approximately a third of our life asleep in our beds – with that in mind, it’s worth investing in the mattress that’s appropriate for you.
  • Posture: When you have poor posture, the weight of your body is dispersed inappropriately on your spine, which can hurt your lower back. It produces stress that can cause damage and injuries.

Balance your bodyweight uniformly on the feet when standing. Take care not to slouch. To have the right posture when seated, opt for a chair with lower back support. The chair height should be adjusted so that your thighs are parallel to the ground and your feet lie flat. When sitting, make sure to empty your pockets to avoid putting more pressure on the hip flexors, lower back and buttocks.

  • Modify repetitive tasks. Lift loads with the help of lifting devices. Try to alternate between less demanding tasks and physically demanding tasks. If you work at a laptop, position your chair, mouse, keyboard, and monitor properly. If you often talk on your mobile phone and write at the same time, use a headset or put your smartphone on speaker. Do not twist or bend unnecessarily. Reduce the time you spend lifting heavy things.
  • Lift heavy items properly. When carrying and picking up something heavy, get close to the object and bend your knees. As you stand up, support the weight and your body using your leg muscles rather than your back. The object should be held close to your body. Don't twist your body while picking up the item. Get help from another person if the item is very heavy.

Apply Cold or Heat

If you are dealing with intense pain, you may get some relief by applying cold or heat to your back while at work. Ice is especially useful if you suffer from sudden back pain; it can relieve the pain and decrease swelling. An instant ice pack that gets cold instantly once activated can be a useful thing to keep at work. To hold the ice pack in place, place it between your back and chair.

However, if you suffer from chronic back pain that’s not because of a particular injury, heat is usually more comforting. This is useful if the uneasiness is due to sitting throughout the day or due to ongoing problems. For instant heat, an electric heating pad is a great option. There are also heat bags that can be conveniently warmed up in a microwave. The heating source should be placed between your chair and back; make sure it’s warm but not so hot that it might burn you.

Cold or heat therapy should be used intermittently, for about 20 minutes at a time to avoid skin damage. Also, to prevent damage, place a thin cloth between your skin and the cold or heat source.

Use Pain Relievers

Over-the-counter pain relievers may be helpful if you’re suffering from occasional stronger pains. However, you should talk to your physician to determine the right kind of pain relief for you. If your pain is because of an injury, anti-inflammatory pain relievers can be particularly useful. Some pain relievers can also ease the inflammation that sometimes accompanies back pain.

Conclusion

Back pain is the most common work-related problem that office workers experience, and it can be challenging to determine how to ease it.

Pain in your back can reduce your productivity. And it can also lead to missing work if it’s severe enough. Getting relief from backache usually begins with recognizing the main cause, whether that’s an injury you need to treat or bad posture you need to rectify.

Adjustments to the way you do your job can relieve the tension that worsens the back pain. Plus, improving your posture, getting up and moving around, doing stretches, and improving desk ergonomics are some practical strategies to ease your back pain at work.

 

 


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