Let’s be honest – you’re probably hunched over at your desk reading this, ignoring the ache between your shoulder blades or in your lumbar spine. Just about every office worker who sits at a desk for 8, 9, 10, 11, or more hours a day experiences chronic back pain at some point. Not only is this pain uncomfortable and distracting, it can have serious long term health and mobility consequences. We’ve put together a list of our best tips to keep you from reaching for the aspirin all day long.
Watch your posture
Sitting at a desk all day causes most people to constantly hunch over in their chairs, pulling their shoulders forward and down and causing the spine to be incredibly out of alignment. Next time you catch yourself hunching down, stop and do the following: sit up tall in your chair, bring your shoulders back, and place your feet on the ground so your knees are at a 90 degree angle. Sitting like this most of the day will do wonders for any posture issues you have.
Switch up your desk environment
There have been a lot of great improvements to the standard desk and chair arrangement that you can use to create a much better musculoskeletal environment. An adjustable standing desk can force you to get on your feet more. Another great way to change it up is to replace your office chair with an exercise ball for an hour or two a day, which makes you engage your core and helps strengthen the muscles that keep your spine in alignment. Finally, adding an ergonomic cushion to your chair will keep your bones even and your back relaxed and happy.
If possible, duck into a conference room or step outside two or three times a day to go through a series of stretches. I personally like to go through a sun salutation yoga sequence, which moves all my muscles and helps reverse some of the damage that my desk is causing. If you can’t get outside, you can still Google ‘desk stretch exercises’ to find a wealth of routines, one of which is bound to be perfect for you.
Stand at least once an hour
The simplest thing you can do as a favor to yourself and your back is it simply stand up and walk around for a few minutes once an hour. You can set a timer on your phone, or use an app designed for this, but the absolute simplest way is to just get up every hour or every half hour and make a really, really, slow lap around the office to use the bathroom and get water.
Get a lunch time chair massage
If there is a place near you that does chair massages during your lunch hour, GO. The Whole Foods near my office has a masseuse next to the lunch bar, and visiting Helga for twenty minutes in the middle of the day is as close to a work spa as my boss is likely to let me get.
Work out regularly
Long-term, nothing beats staying active and keeping good muscle tone to undo the damage of sitting down all day. I recommend getting 30 minutes of strength training and 30 minutes of cardio three to four times a week, but even if all you do is a 20 minute walk at lunch that’s more minutes than you were doing before and you should be proud of that.
In conclusion, back pain is something that all office workers have to deal with, but it shouldn’t ruin your health or your life. With these steps you can be well on your way to being one of those people that wakes up in the morning completely pain free and feels relaxed and good at work.
Is there an office issue YOU know how to resolve that other office workers might benefit from? Write for our blog and get published online. The best part? You get PAID. Learn more now and submit a topic!