How to Minimize Back Pain at Work

Written By Tracy & Keim Chiropractic LLC on April 6, 2022

Most back pain at the office happens not because of a specific injury, but because of the sedentary nature of office work. Humans just aren’t designed to sit for such long periods. And things like poor posture or an inappropriately arranged office space can make things worse. Fortunately, many of the culprits that cause back discomfort can be addressed with adjustments to your posture, workspace, and daily habits. If you work a desk job, here are a few suggestions on how to minimize back pain at work.

Proper Desk Job Posture

Think 90-degree angles when you’re figuring out the best posture for your desk job. Your feet should rest flat on the floor with your knees at a 90-degree angle, and your elbows should form an approximate 90-degree angle (anywhere between 75 and 90 degrees is good) when your hands are on the keyboard. This may require some adjusting of desk and chair height, and maybe even a footstool, but it’s well worth it to minimize back pain at work. Scoot your chair forward so you can rest your spine against the chair while keeping your body straight, shoulders square, and arms parallel to your spine.

The Right Chair—or No Chair

If you spend eight hours a day sitting, you definitely want your chair to have great support. A good office chair should have adjustable height, armrests, and backrest so you can create a comfortable seated position. A lot of office-related back pain happens in the lower back, so make sure your chair also offers lumbar support, or put a cushion behind you. A chair that swivels is a good idea too, especially if you have to twist frequently.

Of course, another option is to forego the chair, or only use it sometimes. Standing desks are becoming more popular. Ideally, a sit-stand desk allows you to switch between sitting and standing throughout the day to relieve muscle tension and give your body some variety. Some people also find that using an exercise ball instead of a chair engages their core, keeps them moving, and helps to minimize back pain at work.

An Ergonomic Workspace

A big desk might sound like a good idea—but it’s actually best to have a space small enough that everything is within easy reach. Don’t get us wrong, stretches are good. But usually when you’re reaching across the desk for a pad of paper or turning to get something out of a file cabinet, you’re more focused on the job at hand than on intentionally moving and supporting your body. And that can lead to tweaks and strains. Position everything so that you can reach what you need without any big stretches or awkward twists.

It's also important to make sure your monitor is at the appropriate height. The top of the monitor should be right at eye level, so you can easily see the screen without leaning forward or craning your neck. (If your screen is too dim or the text is too small, this can also increase your tendency to lean forward, so make sure these are at comfortable levels as well.)

Taking Breaks

Of course, one of the most effective ways to minimize back pain at work is to take frequent breaks from sitting. If possible, try to get up and walk around or stretch for a few minutes at least once every hour. Even a 1-minute walk can relieve tension in your back and help you reset.

Posted In: Chiropractic General Health Back Pain