Last Updated on September 26, 2023 by Umer Malik
In today’s world, most people spend their workdays sitting at a desk in front of a computer, which can lead to various health problems, particularly those related to the back. A walking treadmill desk can be expensive but will save your back. Back pain is a common ailment among office workers, and it can significantly impact one’s quality of life.
Fortunately, several ergonomic office practices can help prevent back pain and improve overall health and well-being.
1. Get Ergonomic
One of the most important activities you can do to prevent back pain is to ensure that you have a workspace optimized for ergonomics, which is the study of how people interact with their environment. Ergonomic design is the process of creating a workspace that is safe, comfortable, and efficient for the people who use it. An ergonomically designed workspace can help prevent musculoskeletal disorders, including back pain, by reducing the strain on the body and promoting good posture.
2. Adjust Desk and Chair Settings
One of the first things to consider when setting up an ergonomic workspace is the height of your desk and chair. Your desk should be at a height that allows you to work comfortably without hunching over or straining your neck. Your chair should also be at a height that will enable your feet to rest flat on the floor, with your knees at a 90-degree angle. This helps distribute your weight evenly and reduces pressure on your lower back.
Many chairs come with lumbar support, which can help maintain the natural curve of your spine and prevent slouching. If your chair does not have lumbar support, consider using a cushion or rolled-up towel to support your lower back.
In addition to lumbar support, you should evaluate the seat of your chair. Having enough cushioning to prevent pressure points on your legs will promote good posture; ensuring that your cushion provides support to your hips will improve blood flow and lessen the strain on your hips and lower back.
3. Stand Up
Many offices have begun to embrace standing desks in their workspaces, which allows you to avoid sitting altogether and have your computer and keyboard at a natural standing height. Some standing desks are easily and quickly adjustable for a full range of sitting and standing heights that can be changed throughout the day to prevent the user from being stuck in one position.
If you have the luxury to do so, you can even place a treadmill under your standing desk to get steps in as you work and get your blood flowing.
4. Reposition Your Screen
Another vital aspect of ergonomic office design is the position of your computer screen. Your screen should be at eye level, with the top of the screen at or slightly below eye level. This helps prevent neck and shoulder strain, which can lead to back pain over time. If you use a laptop, consider using a stand or a separate keyboard and mouse to achieve the proper screen height and angle.
While adjusting your screen, take the time to change the screen resolution to ease eye strain as well. Keeping your screen at a softer brightness and a comfortable distance will lessen the overall tension of staring at a screen which can indirectly impact pressure on the neck and back muscles.
5. Make Time for Breaks
In addition to the height of your desk and chair and the position of your computer screen, several other ergonomic practices can help prevent back pain. One of these is to take frequent breaks throughout the day to stretch and move your body. Sitting in one position for long periods can cause stiffness and soreness, so getting up and moving around every hour or so can help prevent these problems.
It can be as simple as standing for a few minutes several times throughout your day, or you can take time to walk a flight of stairs every hour. A great way to ensure you are moving more is to keep a cup of water to drink at your desk and refill it often. There are multiple benefits to sipping water throughout your work day as well.
6. Adjust Your Mouse and Keyboard
When typing, it is important to keep your wrists straight and your elbows at a 90-degree angle to prevent strain on your wrists, shoulders, and neck. Consider adding a wrist pad for comfort. Avoid using a mouse that is too small or too large, as this can cause strain on your hands and wrists. Shop around to find the right tools that work best for you.
7. Get Moving
Now that you have everything adjusted in your workspace, it’s time to make adjustments to yourself. Several exercises and stretches can help prevent back pain. One of these is the pelvic tilt, which involves lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
Slowly tilt your pelvis forward, arching your lower back, then tilt your pelvis back, flattening your back against the floor. Repeat this exercise several times to help strengthen your core and improve your posture.
Another helpful exercise is the cat-camel stretch, which involves kneeling on all fours, arching your back like a cat, then slowly lowering your back and lifting your head like a camel. This exercise can help improve the flexibility of your spine and reduce tension in your back muscles.
8. Get Some Sleep
One factor often overlooked when trying to improve your comfort at work is to look at your comfort level outside of work. If the cause for your backpack begins at home, making ergonomic changes at work will offer minimal improvement.
Adjusting or changing out your pillows or bed mattress can have a major impact on your body’s resilience, including your back. Having adequate support head to toe while at rest will improve your sleep quality and ensure your muscles recover correctly after the strain of the day.
9. Stay Healthy
Finally, paying attention to your overall health and well-being is essential. Maintaining a healthy weight, eating a nutritious diet, and getting regular exercise can all help prevent back pain and improve your overall quality of life. If you do experience back pain, you should seek medical attention and follow the advice of your healthcare provider. Search “best back physical therapist near me” to provide you with the relief needed to continue working comfortably.
The good news is that even if you are experiencing back pain already, making minor adjustments can play a significant role in correcting the issue. Make sure to give yourself time to recover, and don’t delay making changes as needed to improve your environment and optimize your work day. If small adjustments aren’t working, talk to your employer to see what benefits may be available to improve ergonomics in the office.