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Half of all working Americans admit to having symptoms of back pain every year – that’s a whole lotta people. In fact, back pain is the second most common reason for missing work. Lower-back pain in particular is a key offender, but it can be easily prevented and treated.
You might think your boss may get slightly frustrated if you start getting the whole office to join in with your exercise regime, or take three hours every day to workout in your suit, but consider this – by cutting your chances of back pain, you’re far less likely to need time off.
Also, we’re not talking about long, intense workouts to beat back pain – a few simple office and desk-based drills are all you need, along with changing a few lifestyle factors and perhaps the odd thing in your office set up.
This article is a two-fold, full on approach to treating and preventing the lower-back pain that could jeopardize your performance at work.
General Lower Back Pain Tips
This may not apply to you, but if you are carrying a few extra pounds, dropping a few could seriously reduce your lower back pain. Losing fat means less stress on your muscles and joints and you’ll feel much better. If you’re not overweight, skip this step, but if your pants are feeling a little tight, maybe it’s time to switch those mid-morning cream cheese bagels and lattes to almonds and a black coffee.
Change Your Chair
Sit down in your office chair.
Does it feel comfortable? Is your butt on the seat? Can you put your feet flat on the floor? Is your lower, mid and upper back resting against the pad and can you sit with your head looking straight ahead without any pain or neck strain?
If not, here’s step number one – set your chair up so your posture is perfect when you’re sitting down. You could spend in excess of 40 hours per week in this position, so getting a comfortable, healthy sitting position is crucial. If you can’t get your seat right, ask your boss if there’s money in the budget for an ergonomically-designed, lower back-friendly chair. If they say no, source your own – the benefits far outweigh the cost.
Perfect Your Posture
This goes hand in hand with changing your seating position. A new chair set up to your specifications will undoubtedly help, but you could still be sitting poorly. If you know you’re prone to bad posture, take five post it notes and write “POSTURE” in big red letters on each. Place them around your computer screen, on your desk and your walls. This will ensure you’ve got posture constantly on the brain.
You’re far more likely to implement good posture when standing, so try working standing up every once in a while. You could opt for a specialist stand up desk, but these are expensive and you’ll need a big office to accommodate one. Alternatively, construct a make shift one by putting your keyboard or laptop on a box on top of your desk. Experiment with different heights – the perfect height enables you to stand completely straight while typing and looking at your screen.