How Sore Backs Are A Chronic Illness In The Office Workplace
The biggest reason why thousands of office workers phone in sick, other than the common cold or just avoiding work that day, is because of a chronic sore back pain. It’s becoming a legitimate as well as a painful reason for employees to miss work.
It’s estimated that up to 80% percent of workers will experience some type of back pain in their working lives. That back pain which lingers for more that 3 months is now considered chronic pain.
Any type of chronic pain over time actually begins to influence and then alter our brain functions. This can also lead towards some potentially unwelcome side effects, such as, impaired cognitive attention, poor social skills, and the ability to ration properly.
Also, it’s believed that certain chronic pain can also contribute towards certain mood disorders, which can include anxiety and mild depression. Other issues include difficulty sleeping, or causing fractured relationships with immediate friends and family.
Back Pain The Most Common In Offices
Although chronic pain is widespread, it’s found that the office environment is the most common area for workers to develop chronic back pain, even more so than those performing physically demanding jobs.
This because of how your body becomes positioned and remains stationary throughout the working day, usually at a cubicle, becoming a major contributor to back and neck related pain.
The 3 Most Common Chronic Back Pain Issues
• Stressing out the back by slouching or leaning forward in your office chair
• Balancing the phone receiver between the ear and the shoulder, bending the left or right neck awkwardly
• Being stationary behind a desk during the majority of the work day
Your work is your life, so listed are tips on how you or your employer can better optimize the office, the cubicle, or the workstation to specifically reduce back pain.
Ergonomically Customizing Your Chair And Desk
Anytime that you lean forward in your chair, or even when you’re driving, what you’re doing is crushing and compressing the disks in your lower back. The effect then places unneeded strain on your neck and the shoulders.
So the best solution is to naturally lean back as often as possible while you work.
Supporting Your Spine’s Natural Curvature
Office chairs are usually cheap and basic. What they should have at a minimum is proper lumbar support. The days that you phone in sick is costly to your employer, so it should be a good investment and a priority to spend a few extra dollars on a better chair.
The most critical area of the back to support is that natural forward curve which is around the belly button level. At times, a pillow, a rolled up towel, or a cushion around that area can be used for temporary support.
Proper Chair Adjustment
Properly adjusting the height of your chair is critical. The best position is you being able to place your feet flat on the floor, while your knees are at a 90-degree angle.
What may also be helpful is resting your feet on a prop underneath your desk, much like your footrest at home. Try several stacked phone books to gain that extra support.
When you ever decide to cross your legs tightly for better comfort, what that does is it reduces circulation in your legs, which can eventually cause varicose veins.
Removing Office Chair Armrests
Remove the armrests completely or lower them so that your arms will be at a 90-degree angle. What this forces you to do is rest your shoulders lower, which then supports your upper back.
Also make sure that your monitor is placed approximately an arms length away from you on your desk, slightly below your eye level. This will then encourage you to sit back straighter instead of having to lean forward which will increase neck strain.
If you happen to squint while looking at your monitor, which will usually cause you to lean forward, then adjust the settings on your monitor, adjust the lighting, or get your eyes checked.
Best Optimized Phone Usage
The majority of office workers will habitually just tuck their phone receiver between their head and their shoulder. This is done to free up their hands while they’re talking, which causes unnecessary strain on their neck and lower head.
Tips To Avoid Neck Strain When Using The Phone
It’s recommended that you use a speakerphone or a headset. This especially if your conversations lasts more than 10 minutes, or if you’re required to take notes during the phone conversion. You can also switch sides between your left and right shoulders during the phone call if it’s extended.
Moving Around Don’t Remain Stationary
Our human bodies are designed to be as mobile as possible. So sitting or even standing for extended periods of time in one position, up to 8 hours per day, 5 days a week is unnatural. It will wreak havoc on your body.
Begin Taking Short Breaks By Just Standing Up
These are called micro breaks which shouldn’t disrupt but improve your work output. It’s recommended that you do so at least once every hour. Use this time to get a sip of water or to use the restroom.
Sitting stationary for long periods of time will actually weaken the muscles and the spinal area in your back. So just stretching for even 60 seconds is adequate to offset the negative effects of sitting still.
Researchers have even suggested that, ideally, you should be spending up to half of your working hours standing up if possible. If you happen to have an area while you can stand while working, then alternate between sitting and then standing throughout the entire workday.
Try strengthening the core muscles in your back with exercise, such as pilates, yoga, or even doing sit-ups in the office. All of these activities will focus and strengthen your lower back and stomach. Doing so will also naturally improve your posture while reducing chronic lower back pain.