OSEA Safety Blog

Easy Back Hacks for Sitting at the Office All Day

Wednesday, November 6, 2019 Brenda Griffin

It’s no secret that sitting at a desk working on a computer all day can be rough on the back, neck, hips, and shoulders. This is especially true if you don’t take the time to set up your work area properly and keep moving! Here are some guidelines to follow to spare you the pain of sitting at your desk all day.

For the neck shoulders:

  • Use the speaker on your phone for long calls so you don’t end up holding the phone between your ear and shoulder, thus straining your neck and shoulder. This works well if you have an office with a door. If you work in an open-concept office, consider using a headset connected to your phone. Either of these options keeps your neck in a neutral position and helps avoid pain.
  • Adjust the height of your computer monitor so that it is at eye level. This also keeps your neck in neutral and reduces neck and shoulder strain. Monitor stands can help increase the height of monitors as well as simply stacking books underneath it. If you are using a laptop, consider using a separate monitor which can be elevated. Other options include elevating your laptop so the screen is at eye level, and then connecting a keyboard and mouse to the laptop to use at a lower level. The lowered keyboard and mouse, allowing your elbows to be at a 90-degree angle, also reduces stress on your shoulders.

For the back:

  • Adjust your chairback for proper lumbar support or add lumbar support using a rolled-up towel or cushion. If needed, buy a new chair!
  • Be aware of slouching forward and correct your posture back to a neutral S-curve posture.
  • Use a sit/stand desk to vary your postures throughout the day.
  • Avoid crossing your legs and instead cross them at the ankles. This takes the strain off the hips and back. Consider using a footrest to slightly elevate the feet.

For the hips:

  • Stretch! Our bodies were not designed to be bent all day. Stand periodically. And Walk. Most importantly, stretch out the hip flexors. How? One way is to pretend you are proposing to someone – so get down on one knee and gently lean forward until you feel the stretch, then repeat on the other side. There are many other moves you can do. Find a stretch that works for you and do it regularly.

Other things you can do throughout the day to hack your back pain and strain:

  • Vary your position every ½ hour. Stand, stretch, walk around for a few minutes.
  • Move daily. Sitting all day means we’re not using our muscles as much. Taking a walk, doing yoga or tai chi (or whatever your favorite form of movement is) can help to work out these underused muscles.
  • Have walking meetings rather than sitting around a conference room table to mix it up.
  • Use a step counter to help increase overall movement throughout the day.
  • Get a massage to help with relaxing tight muscles caused by sitting too much.
  • Make muscle stretching and strengthening a part of your daily routine.

We all live busy lives. The best way to avoid back pain from sitting at the office is to blend these activities into your workday. Otherwise, the back pain you feel on the job will follow you home – and who wants that?

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