Minimize Back Pain While Working

You’ve experienced it before

Does the shooting pain in your lower back, your tight shoulder muscles and stiff neck get worse as you try to meet an urgent deadline? Back pain in the workplace is common and shouldn’t be ignored. Fortunately, there are exercises/stretches you can do to help ease your back pain and steps you can take to protect your back at work.

Did you know?

Back pain is the number one work-related injury. Hunching over a computer is one of the main reasons that four out of five women, in particular, end up with back pain at some point in their lives.

Work-related back pain is often a sign that either your environment or your posture and movements should change. Age, desk setup, stress load and the type of manual tasks you engage in all play a huge role in your back health.

Exercises/Stretches to Help Ease Your Back Pain at Work

Here are six exercises/stretches to help ease your back pain and steps to protect your back at work:

  • Straighten Up –

Standing tall, feet together, align your ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles.
Pull your belly button in towards your spine.

  • Twist and Sway –

Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart and gently rotate your core from side to side.
Let your arms flop loosely and shift your weight from knee to knee, breathing calmly for 15 seconds.

  • Shake it Out –

Shake limbs loosely for 15 seconds on each side.

  • Tuck the Chin –

Gently make a double chin by tucking your chin and adding pressure with your hand. Make sure your eyes and chin are facing directly forward. Hold for one to two seconds and repeat 10 times for two to three sets.

  • Practise Seated Rows –

With your arms at shoulder height, palms facing down, draw the shoulder blades together and bend your elbows. Pause here and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times for two to three sets.

  • Shrug the Shoulders –

Raise your shoulders upward towards your ears. Then slowly lower them back to a relaxed position. Repeat 10 times for two to three sets.

Protect Your Back at Work

Here are four ways to reduce your risk of back and neck pain:

  • Sit Within Reach –

Check your posture to ensure your back is straight. Your torso should be about an arm’s length away from the monitor, which should be two to three inches above eye level. Consider using a stack of books or a small box to raise your laptop to the right height.

  • Pick the Right Chair –

Pick an adjustable chair that allows your lower back to rest against a lumbar support. Then tilt the back of the chair so it’s very slightly reclined.

  • Keep Your Mouse Close –

Ideally, it should be placed right next to your keyboard, so you don’t overreach or twist your shoulder, arm, or wrist when clicking. Consider using an external keyboard and mouse to reduce strain on your wrists.

  • Take Breaks –

No deadline is worth an injury. Getting up at least once an hour — to go to the bathroom or just do some shoulder rolls, which reduces pressure on spinal disks and boosts circulation. Payoff: You’ll be more limber and less stressed.

If you do experience pain, consult a health care professional, such as a chiropractor, to assess your specific needs and identify a course of action that’s right for you. Chiropractors are committed to helping you be more physically active. A chiropractor can evaluate your strength and flexibility, as well as screen for anything that may limit your physical activities. Ask your chiropractor for an evaluation.

To find a chiropractor near you, use the chiropractor locator on our website. In Ontario, you can visit a chiropractor without a referral from a doctor, nurse practitioner or other health care professional.

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