Office Ergonomics – 9 Ways To Avoid Office Back Pain

Office Ergonomics – 9 Ways To Avoid Office Back Pain

In today’s modern lifestyle it’s easy to get bogged down in our routine. As entrepreneurs we love building and that can get our bodies into all kinds of tangled up situations we don’t see, let alone feel.

Until, that is, we catch our reflection in one swift side-glance. No, I’m not taking about stray hairs, mascara smudges or lipstick on teeth. I’m talking the way we carry our bodies.

What matters to you?

See, we when we’re building we are focused. We are totally immersed in what our mind is working on, the vision we honour, our client’s interest. So every now and then, simple tips to remember, in whatever way works for you, can prevent back, neck and other aches and pains we inadvertently set our bodies up for.

Whether it’s being able to work longer hours without wanting to cry out in pain or just the ability to get comfortable in bed right away.

May be you want to wake up feeling refreshed, not stiff and achey for a change. You might remember a time you could go out and dance in your favorite pair of heels and not face the boardroom slouching the next day.

Top tips for what matters to you:

Have a bra fitting

If you haven’t already, that is. If you have, I bet you felt the benefits, right? You even move differently afterwards. That’s because you’re breathing differently. Your entire body above and below where that bra strap runs is now using different muscles what may have been protecting you from back or neck pain, likely from muscle overuse (strain).

Get up and hydrate on the hour

Your spine requires plenty of water and nutrients to stay healthy and perform at its best, just like the rest of your body.

Proper hydration is essential for nutrient delivery, lubrication and waste elimination. Normal vertebral discs are 88% water, and because discs lose some of their water during the day, re-hydration also proves essential for maintaining the height of each disc. Each sleep cycle will restore most of the daily water loss, but not all of it.

If a person begins to become dehydrated, the body will look to retrieve water from places like the spinal vertebrae first. So drinking abundant amounts of water throughout the day remains an important way of maintaining your spinal health.

Move whenever you can

Nature did not design the human body to sit still for long hours every day at work stations. We need movement, support and variation to work well.

If you’ve been sitting or standing upright for a couple of hours – easily done when we’re tasking – it might be time to adapt this sexy little number as your new favorite stretch at work. Slide your head straight back until it feels like you have a double chin. Yes, that’s right. Let your colleagues have a giggle. It’s actually quite fun to do, especially when you feel the relief quite quickly, when you do this one right. Hold for 5 10 seconds. Repeat 3 5 times. Done. You’ve just reduced the likelihood you’ll get a posture related headache, neck or back pain significantly. Easy!

Elbows and knees at 90 degrees please!

That said, it’s really hard to stay in this fixed position or any other for that matter, for long, when your mental capacity is being challenged. So

Don’t cross your legs for longer than 15 minutes without swapping legs over

When you sit with your legs crossed, you irritate the area around your outside of your leg, just below the knee, which can pinch a nerve. Crossing your legs also alters your pelvic position, placing additional pressure on your hip muscles and sciatic nerve. This throws off your SI (sacroiliac) joint and pelvis, which have connections to your lower back, and can lead to long-term nerve irritation and back pain.

Every time you stay in one position for a while with the same leg crossed over, you are causing a muscle imbalance all across where you would experience lower back pain. The main muscle here has a primary function of bringing the hip and rib cage closer together (as in sidebending). So, if you can’t avoid it completely, try to even out the imbalance on the opposite side!

Try to carry around as little as possible with you

This is almost a no-brainer. Unless we’re weight lifting or training at the gym, we don’t want to put stresses an strains through our joints, unnecessarily. Yes, it takes a bit of organisation, ladies. Yes, it means we have to make sure the essentials are in the new bag or case, daily, which may take a bit of extra time but, like all the choices we make to ensure our health, it’s up to us to take responsibility.

If you rest a shoulder strap on one shoulder try the other shoulder for a change

The same goes here as it does for leg crossing. Ideally you don’t want a strap pulling one shoulder down but if you really must then at least swap shoulders from time to time. Although the muscles around this area are small, they greatly affect our head posture as we navigate the streets, trying to keep our eyes in front at all times!

If you wear high-waisted tights or stocking make sure they aren’t restricted your breathing

This might seem less obvious but just like your bra, stockings or tights can create a sort of corset like function.

The health implications of wearing one can be highlighted by constriction from the garment that can prohibit digestion and nutrition absorption on an extreme level never ideal for a healthy digestion system. The added pressure can encourage slouching, or a dysfunctional breathing pattern which could in turn lead to overuse of neck muscles and subsequent neck and shoulder complaints.

Monitor Positioning – the easiest to change?

It’s a good rule of thumb to keep scribbled on a post it – stuck at eye level!

Place the monitor directly in front of you, about an arms length away. The top of your screen should be slightly below eye level. If glare from fluorescent lighting or sunlight is a problem, turn off some or all of the overhead lights or close the window shades. Place your monitor so that the brightest light source is to the side.

About the author


Susannah Makram

Osteopath, Naturopath, typically works with families of business owners travelling who need safe and immediate treatment for back pain and chronic health concerns. She helps them achieve solutions to their pain; feel energized within the modern lifestyle and enables them to take ownership of their health journey.

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