Improving desk habits can reduce office workers’ back pain

back pain

Office workers are most likely to suffer from back pain than manual workers due to poor posture at their desks.  In a survey of The British Chiropractic Association’s members, 56% of chiropractors said office workers are most vulnerable to back pain and that sedentary PC posture causes more back problems than excessive lifting and carrying. Now new advice from workplace equipment provider Slingsby says employers can help to prevent a lot of the problems by encouraging staff to improve their desk habits.

Lee Wright, Marketing Director of Slingsby said: “It is often assumed that those most at risk from back pain have very physical jobs but it’s not the case.  Sitting down places more stress on the spine than standing up and most workers sit down all day, with many not even leaving their desks at lunchtime, so it’s not surprising that nearly all organisations have employees that suffer from back pain at some point.

“Whilst back pain is uncomfortable, it is not normally serious and is easy to prevent in the first place because the cause can usually be linked to the way that the bones, muscles and ligaments in the back work together.  For many who work in an office environment, it’s the day-to-day mundane routines combined with the fact that many office workers sit for hours at a time with very little movement that cause most back problems.”

Slingsby has compiled the following guidelines to help maintain good desk posture:-

  • Bear in mind that it is important to maintain the proper curve in the lumbar spine while sitting at your desk.
  • Try to avoid sitting in the same position for long periods and regular short breaks are better than a couple of long ones because it gives muscles a chance to relax while others take the strain.
  • Think about how you can take frequent breaks from the screen by doing other things such as walking over to talk to colleagues rather than emailing them, making a drink or doing some filing or photocopying.
  • By law, workstation chairs must be stable.  The seat height and back rest should be adjustable.  Ideally, the back rest should move independently of the seat to allow for a more comfortable position.
  • When you’re sitting, your thighs should be at right-angles to your body or sloping down slightly.  The optimal seat height allows you to rest feet flat on the floor but if your feet don’t reach, or if it’s more comfortable, then use a foot rest.
  • Your computer should be at eye level and if you have to hunch over to read the screen then you need to raise it up either with a stand or even by placing a book underneath.
  • Try to be aware of your posture during phone calls and avoid resting the phone between your shoulder and ear.