From osteo ldn

THE DESK WORKERS GUIDE: HOW TO PREVENT BACK PAIN

Most people fall victim to the perils of annoying back pain at some point in their life.

Others struggle with it constantly and fail to remember a time they didn't endure it in their daily routine.

Though what many people forget, is that our workplace habits, office set up and naturally poor posture are often the evil little culprits.

But what are we meant to do? Quit our desk jobs and become professional dog walkers or personal trainers?

Not exactly.

Whether you're an average Joe, a wealthy Joe or a less than privileged Joe, working behind a desk bears the same potentially harmful side effects for everyone.

And although the wealthier Joe's are more likely to invest in comfortable, well-positioned furniture; it's still not always enough to stop that dreaded back pain from swooping in and irritating you.
low back pain
According to the Royal College of General Practitioners, low back pain affects around one-third of the UK adult population each year.

Let's not forget about our American companions, where according to the American Chiropractic Association, about 31 million Americans experience low back pain at any given time.

Back pain doesn't discriminate, it can affect people of all ages – from the adolescent to the elderly. And, it's a nuisance that can impact any individual, but especially those who work full-time hours with little movement.

So now, take a seat (or maybe stand..) and find out exactly what's causing your back pain day-to-day in the office.

You'll then learn the exact tips and mindset that you can implement today to help fix this bugging issue.

- WHAT ARE THE COMMON CAUSES OF OFFICE BACK PAIN?

- WHAT DOES A HEALTHY MINDSET HAVE TO DO WITH IT?

- WHAT ARE SOME HELPFUL TIPS TO PREVENT BACK PAIN?

- CONCLUSION

WHAT ARE THE COMMON CAUSES OF OFFICE BACK PAIN?

For 9 to 5 office workers, back pain is increasingly hard to escape, and it likely consists of a few reasons.

Sitting in an uncomfortable chair, staring at a bright screen and being relatively immobile for lengthy periods; any of these sound familiar?

With these behaviours come a slew of side effects that most Osteopaths and Physios warn their patients of.

Luckily, some simple life hacks can help you feel like your old self again. But let's take a look at what can cause this type of back pain in the first place:

- POOR POSTURE

Perhaps the most obvious one. Hunching down to type or slouching awkwardly from your chair means you're putting additional pressure on your back muscles and spine for one too many hours.

The more you hunch over without correcting your posture, the more it feels instinctive not to sit up straight.

- FATIGUE

Fatigue leads to overly relaxed positions and crouching over onto your desk, and that's a recipe for back pain.

- DESK DESIGN

Is your screen too high or too low? Is your space too cramped? Do you need to twist your head too often to look at a report?

Neither are ideal situations, and the way your working space is designed can be what's causing you consistent aches and pains.

Display Screen Equipment (DSE) workstation assessments have rapidly grown in popularity. And for good reason. You're entitled to work in a pain-free environment!

Enquire today for your assessment from qualified professionals.

- BEING SEDENTARY


Too many hours a day in one place isn't healthy for anyone.

If you're in the same poorly set up space for too long, it can weaken muscles and restrict blood flow. The lack of nutrients and oxygen from a proper blood flow to your back can be harmful and very noticeable...
- STRESS AND ANXIETY

You may not think this would be a cause. Still, stress and anxiety often trigger you and your muscles to tense up, which can ultimately lead to an achy body and an achy back.

- UNHEALTHY LIFESTYLE CHOICES

If you don't feel comfortable in your own body, you'll never find a comfortable position to sit in.

And suppose you lack an exercise regime in your off time; in that case, you're missing the opportunity to strengthen your muscles and improve posture.

A healthy body helps with a healthy back (and mind).

WHAT DOES A HEALTHY MINDSET HAVE TO DO WITH IT?

If your mindset doesn't change, you don't change.

Your health, flexibility and wellbeing are entirely up to you, and you're the only one who can make a difference.

So, before you read down for tips and tricks on preventing desk worker back pain, get comfortable with these three mantras first:

- I will not be lazy

- I will set and adhere to schedules

- I will take frequent and necessary breaks


If you're working from home or in an office, remember that breaks are possible and your schedule can be adapted.

As for laziness, well we all know a little push outside of the comfort zone is a good thing. These are all imperative aspects that can help get you started.

This initial change of mindset is what you need to have or work towards because without this ruminating in your subconscious, you'll become too busy and too distracted to make any real difference.

Making excuses or getting carried away with workload will not help with your back pain in the long run.

So, before you sit down and send that first email of the day, change your mentality. Start first by thinking about how you can make healthier choices in your routine.

WHAT ARE SOME HELPFUL TIPS TO PREVENT BACK PAIN?

Back pain doesn't have to be forever if it's caused by working at a desk. This type of pain is a real ugly kind of recurring pest, but you can fumigate it from your life with a little work.

Despite your choice of job, as long as you take steps to get there and focus on your overall wellbeing, you can live happily without this pest disturbing you.

Here are some helpful tips for desk workers that can help to avoid back pain:

- GO FOR A WALK AT LUNCH

Be it 15 minutes or an hour, use that lunch break properly and get the blood flowing through your body.

This can also help clear your mind, ease stress and ultimately limit anxiety, so you don't spend the entire day tensed up.

- YOGA

Do a quick 10-minute yoga class before work, during your lunch break or after work. If you work from home, this can be easy to infiltrate into your schedule. If not, make it a priority before or after work.

You don't need to invest much time in this, nor money if you find classes on YouTube, and it can build strength, stretch limbs, help posture and increase flexibility.

Some yoga teachers even teach courses specifically focused on office back pain.

- ADD REMINDERS IN YOUR CALENDAR OR ON YOUR PHONE TO 'DRINK WATER' OR 'GET A COFFEE'


We all know that a busy workday means we forget about the important stuff – like drinking enough water and getting your daily movement.

Keeping your body hydrated is essential, but so is any excuse for a break during a busy day. If a co-worker asks if you want to take a coffee break with them, make sure to go along and have that 5-minute chat while standing up or while walking.

This can also help with blood flow and ensure you aren't entirely deskbound.

- ADD A REMINDER TO 'CHECK POSTURE'

We all instinctively slump into our work chairs and completely forget until someone walks by and comments on our posture.

It's good to keep yourself in check and aware of how you're sitting. Add a reminder a couple of times throughout the day to keep your posture in check.
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- MAKE SURE YOUR MOUSE AND MOUSE PAD AREN'T TOO FAR AWAY

This can cause your elbows to extend too far from your body, which puts a strain on your shoulders and upper back.

- GET HEADPHONES OR PUT YOUR PHONE ON SPEAKER

Holding your phone up to your ear all day can strain your arm muscles and lead to slouchy positioning.

If you're working from home and have your own space to do so, answer or make calls using your phone speaker. Otherwise, give headphones a try.

- REGULARLY EXERCISE AND STRENGTHEN YOUR BODY

Training your glutes, abs, hamstrings and feet all help to strengthen your body and limit back pain.

The stronger our muscles are, the better our body is at staying upright and not giving into that natural hunch.

Need some ideas? You can get our free guide - The 6 Essential Exercises to Eliminate Poor Posture - HERE.

- MAKE SURE YOUR SCREEN IS EYE LEVEL

If your desktop or laptop screen sits quite low on your desk, add some books beneath or adjust it to the right level, so you don't strain your neck muscles.
Staring too high or too low will lead to a sore neck and a sore back at the end of the day.

- GET A COMFORTABLE CHAIR OR MAKE THE ONE YOU HAVE COMFORTABLE

There are a few scenarios here. If your office is at home and you can afford it, buy a comfortable well positioned new chair and do your research beforehand. Look at reviews and check dimensions.

If money is a concern, try adding a pillow or lumbar support to support your lower back.

If you must work from the less than ideal chair that work provides, adjust the settings. You want to make sure you're not sitting too far back, too high up, or too low to the ground.

Here are your easy to digest "sitting for work" key tips:

- Sit tall with head facing forward or slightly downward.

- Sit all the way back in the chair and maintain an upright trunk with a natural curve in your lower back.

- You want your arms to hang vertically down from your shoulders. Avoid shrugging your shoulders by allowing your arms to hang and rest lightly on your chair arms.

- Keep forearms, wrists and hands are level with keyboard.

- Sit with your thighs flat and legs at a comfortable 90 degree angle at the knees.

- Your feet should be resting comfortably and flat on the floor.

DON'T CROSS YOUR LEGS ALL-DAY

It's essential to keep hips parallel, as crossing your legs can stress your hip flexors and ultimately your lower back.

Sitting cross-legged for too long can actually cause long- term back pain. So be conscious of how often you do it and make sure you aren't stagnated in this position all day.

- GET A MASSAGE

You are your best investment and more of you are realising just how important self-care is.

Try getting a massage every few weeks. Not only does this relax you, but a qualified therapist can also help to get rid of tense knots and relieve pain.

Has it been a while since you had an MOT? Check out our Sports Massage page today. Your back may thank you for it.

- TRY USING AN EXERCISE BALL AS A CHAIR

You may have seen this in the movies or from the co-worker down the hall, but the truth is, using an exercise ball as a chair can make all the difference.

If you have your own office or work from home, this may be easier to do.

Still, if it is a possibility, the lack of back support can encourage good posture. Give it a go.

- GET A SIT-STAND DESK

Ideal if you have the funds or work for a company willing to help finance a desk like this. It can be a great way of eliminating back pain from working at a stationary desk and in the same sitting position.

With this option, you can swap between sitting and standing throughout the day and limit the stress placed on your back.

- STRETCH FROM YOUR DESK

On the days you're struggling to keep your head above water and thus less likely to go for a walk, try stretching from right at your desk.

From your arms to your torso and knees, there are many low-key body stretches that you can do under the radar.

See here for easy desk stretches that you can do any time of the day.

CONCLUSION

So to round up your key takeaways from our guide:

- You need to make a conscious effort to change and prioritize your health and movement.

- Go for a walk at lunch and make sure to have your water and movement breaks.

- Engage in yoga and stretch from your desk.

- Add reminders in your phone to get moving and have regular posture checks.

- Follow our tips to adjust your seat position and computer.

- Regularly exercise and strengthen your body.

- Don't cross your legs.

- Get regular massage.

- Try using an exercise ball as a seat or try a sit-stand desk.


Not all these useful tips are going to be realistic options for you or be something that you can incorporate into your work pattern every day. But begin making small steps in the right direction, when and where you can.

With time, determination and patience, your routine will naturally become accustomed to healthier choices. And you may find that your desk associated aches and pains will be a thing of the past.

I'd say it's magic, but like most things in life, it takes hard work and a conscious effort.

Remember to change your mindset from blatant laziness and 'too busy' excuses to 'it's time to take a break, have a stretch and focus on my wellbeing'.

Once you master this new and improved thought process, you can begin making any of these necessary changes to your desk space and hectic schedule.

Yes, back pain implications for desk workers are a common occurrence.

Yes, they can be somewhat difficult to prevent or get rid of, but that doesn't mean that it needs to affect your life in the long term or for much longer than it already has.

You can still enjoy your job, and comfortably, without needing to switch to a completely different career. Instead, change your overdue desk habits.

Forget bad posture, stagnant or unsuitable positioning and unnecessary stress. And make the effort to embrace better alternatives.

The next time you skip coffee break with your workplace friend or your daily jaunt down the road at lunchtime, think about the pain in the…er… back… it'll be later on.

It's not worth it.
What has worked for you in the office? Follow Kurt Johnson on the links below and let him know your thoughts on this article.

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