Back Pain at work is very common in todays world. Do you sit for long hours at your desk, travel long hours in your car and experience back pain to no end?
Below is your seated workplace checklist to beat chronic back and neck pain. It can boast productivity being more comfortable and lead to less muscular tension, aches and pains that I see in clinic on a daily basis – due to poor work seated postures!
The seated workplace is the number 1 workstation in the world. It accounts for nearly most of the work-related musculoskeletal disorders that affect the neck, upper limb and the back. Back pain is considered to be the most common and possibly the fasted growing health disorder in the occupational sector.
Back pain is a growing concern and a large part of what I see here at the clinic.
I have put together a short checklist of the 7 top tips to help you improve your back, neck and postural problems that could ALL be related to how you are sitting at work and at home. This should in the long run help you with your back and improve your performance in the workplace.
THE BACK PAIN CHECKLIST
1, Adjusting Your Chair
The chair is the first thing that will need to be addressed as you need to ensure you are sitting comfortably. Sitting for prolonged periods can be uncomfortable even with a comfy chair so make sure you get up periodically and move.
- Does your chair have a lumbar support?
- Can you adjust the height of the chair?
- Is your chair well fitted? I.e Small, medium, large, width appropriate?
- Does your chair have armrests that can be adjusted?
2, The Monitor Position
The monitor position is very important as it keeps your eye level with the horizon. If your eye gaze is lower than horizontal, your body starts to adjust to compensate. This compensation means you will start to slouch. If you continue to look forwards with poor posture, this puts a lot of strain on your neck and shoulders. For every inch that the centre of gravity is shifted forwards, the neck is subsequently subjected to compressive forces and fatigue in the working muscles of the neck and back.
During your Osteopathy Assessment, I assess your posture from the start (both standing and seated) and if enrolled on my back care program I will design for you a training program to make sure your posture is corrected long term with a series of simple stretches and strengthening exercises.
3, Keyboard Position
There are many types of keyboards that are designed to place the hands in a more neutral position. Having a more neutral position helps prevent disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Keyboard design however depends on the user and the type of work being performed. Since purchasing a keyboard is a matter of preference, you should ensure a trial period of at least a month.
Having armrests can provide support for your forearms, they can therefore reduce the amount of stress on your shoulders and back. That said, the armrest should not restrict your natural movement nor the position of chair in relation to your workstation. You should be able to adjust your armrests, if not consider removing or replacing them.
If your armrests are too high, the shoulders will shrug, which can cause discomfort and may lead to muscular tightness.
5, Your Work Surface
As discussed earlier, your chair should be adjusted for you and your workstation. Once your chair is adjusted, you can then determine the correct height of your working surface. Your working surface should be at the level of your elbows which is measured while your arms are hanging relaxed by your sides and your lower arms are bent at a right angle. Make any necessary adjustments by raising or lowering your work surface or chair. If your work surface cannot be adjusted to accommodate your elbow height, then you can raise your chair and use a footrest. The footrest should be large enough for both feet.
6, Laptop Use
Laptops are convenient and compact way to take your work with you on the go, especially to meetings and when travelling. They are now a major reason why people visit me for back pain. It is very easy to sit and lounge around in awkward postures that soon develop into back pain. Laptops also provide you the ability to telecommute and work away from the office. If you use laptops for any length of time, especially if you only ever use a laptop, ensure the above considerations are applied. Avoid having a laptop on your lap or without a stand as this can really affect your posture and lead to fatigue much quicker.
7, Accessories To Make Your Life Easier
If you are writing a document and you need to refer to another document for any length of time then using a document ramp can save you a lot of time energy and your back pain!
Using a document ramp will minimise efforts to refocus from one document to another. Place it between your keyboard and monitor as a document holder.
Keep your phone within easy reach. If you use a phone while at work, making bookings or for writing, use a headset or a speakerphone to avoid awkward positioning of your neck.
How Does Osteopathy Work?
Osteopathy is a hands-on manual therapy that uses a wide range of techniques to increase the mobility and function of tissues throughout the body.
The aim of these techniques is to enhance the blood and nerve supply to the tissues, which promote the body’s own healing mechanisms.
Some of my skills include:
- Joint manipulation and articulation – easing joint restriction, relieving pain, promoting nerve function between the site of the symptoms and segments of the spine, allowing better movement away from the site of the pain.
- Visceral organ techniques – applying gentle techniques on the internal organs to assist digestive and circulatory problems or breathing difficulties.
- Soft-tissue massage and stretching – improving range of motion and muscle flexibility.
- Exercise Rehabilitation – building stability, strength and endurance of the body to prevent injury, restore movement and confidence after injury.
For more information on returning to work with back pain click on the hse.gov.uk page