How to Avoid Back Soreness or Pain at the Office

Two Methods:Practicing Good PosturePreventing Back Pain

Do you feel pain or soreness in your back after a tiring day at the office? Are you have the same back pain each and every day? Back pain can occur for many reasons. Whether it is your posture, a job that requires heavy or repetitive movements, or even your work environment, you can find relief by taking precautions against back pain.

Method 1
Practicing Good Posture

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    Adjust your chair. Sitting for long periods in front of a desk or computer screen puts lots of pressure on your back and on the disks in your spine. A proper chair is key to preventing back pain. Try to get one that can be easily adjusted for height, back position, and tilt.
    • Adjust the chair height so that, when standing, the highest point of the seat is just below your kneecaps. Sit on the chair and put your feet on the floor, then adjust the backrest so that it fits the hollow of your back. Tilt the seat back or forward if you prefer; your knees should be slightly lower than your hips.[1]
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    Sit up straight. For proper sitting posture, sit up with your back straight and your shoulders back. Your buttocks should be flat on the seat, touching the back of the chair. Make sure that all of the natural curves in your back are supported by the chair-back.[2]
    • You should be distributing your body weight evenly between both hips. Also, consider using a rolled towel or other pad to give your back added support, if the chair does not already do so.
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    Position your computer properly. If you are working on a computer, your screen should be set directly in front of you. Place the monitor about an arm’s length away, with its top roughly at the level of your eyes. You will have to bend your neck if the screen is too low or too high, which over long periods can be uncomfortable.[3]
    • Place the keyboard close to you. Your keyboard should be in front of you when typing, at a distance of about four to six inches from the front of the desk. Rest your wrists in that gap. Your wrists should also be straight when typing and level with the keyboard, your elbows held right below your shoulders and at your sides. A wrist-rest can help you to keep your wrists straight while typing and is quite inexpensive, about $20.[4] Proper keyboard use can improve your posture just as it can help to prevent carpal-tunnel syndrome, a repetitive use injury of the wrists.[5]
    • Keep the mouse as close to you as possible, as well. You can also find mouse pads that have built-in padding to keep your wrists level.
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    Make objects accessible. If you find that you frequently use certain objects like the phone, stapler, or paper clips, place these within easy reach. Avoid repeatedly stretching or twisting your body to reach them. Also, avoid phone strain. Think about investing in a headset if you are often on the phone, the use of which can strain muscles in your neck.[6]
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    Lift objects properly. Use safety if you often lift boxes or heavy objects at your workplace. When lifting, spread your feet wide to give yourself a wide base of support. Then, squat and lift slowly from the knees – not your back! Instead keep your back straight, neither bending nor twisting it, and hold the object as close to your body as you can, at the level of your belly-button.[7]
    • Get help with heavy objects. Don’t try to lift more than you can easily manage, and don’t overestimate what you can handle. If an object is heavy, ask for help from a co-worker or two to lift it. In the case of very heavy warehouse objects like pallets, you may also have the option of using lifting machines like forklifts.[8]
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    Modify repetitive tasks. Any task that requires repeated movements or working in fixed positions for a long time can put you at risk of an overuse injury – this includes sitting in an office. Try to modify these tasks so that the stress on your back is lessened. For example, alternate demanding tasks with less demanding ones. If you work at a computer, make sure to limit unnecessary bending, twisting, or reaching, and that your workstation is correctly positioned.[9]

Method 2
Preventing Back Pain

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    Take regular breaks. Change the position that you sit in throughout the day. Stand up once or twice every hour to get a drink, get fresh air, or do tasks standing up, giving your back muscles time to relax. This can keep you from becoming stiff or tense. Take frequent short breaks rather than fewer longer ones, as this is better for your back.[10]
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    Stay active. In general, the best way to prevent and recover from back pain is to stay active. If your back hurts, but you are able to go about your daily activities, resist the urge to stay in bed or on the couch. Maintain mobility, keep the muscles in use, and, if need be, take over the counter pain medication. Long-term rest will actually set you back, weakening your back muscles and making it harder to resume your normal tasks.[11]
    • Be sure to include physical activity in your routine, as well. One of the biggest things you can do to prevent back pain is to keep your back and its muscles strong through regular exercise. Most governments recommend getting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, spread throughout the week, along with strength training twice a week. Some exercises will specifically strengthen your back, specifically swimming, walking, and stretches that target your core muscles.[12]
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    Wear comfortable shoes. Believe it or not, many back problems start with the feet and our shoes, because they affect the way that we walk. They are like the “foundation” of a building, our body. Bad shoes, like high-heels, can cause or exacerbate lower back pain, for example. Make sure that your shoes give your feet and back ample support, particularly if your job requires you to be on your feet for much of the day. Wear shoes that have rigid heels and mid-soles, like sneakers. Insoles and shoe inserts are also helpful.[13]
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    Get a good night’s rest. Sleep will always help in the healing process. It is the same for your back issues, particularly if you use a supportive mattress. Some clinical data suggests that a medium-firm mattress – not a hard mattress – provides more back relief. Find a mattress that supports the natural curves of your spine, as well. This should help you also to avoid soreness in the morning.[14]
    • Another suggestion is to put a pillow under your knees. Raising your knees slightly eases pressure on your back while you sleep, in fact it as much as halves it.[15]

Things You'll Need

  • Blanket, towel or pillow.
  • If needed, a shoebox or block of wood to keep feet elevated and have your knees at a right angle.

Article Info

Categories: Work World