Day in and day out we treat our backs poorly, mostly with improper and repetitive movements. It only makes sense that a big part of the problem is how we move and, more often, don’t move at work, where most of us spend a major portion of our lives. Other factors play a role as well, such as the number and variety of manual tasks performed on the job, along with age, genetics, schedule, desk setup and stress load. Experts say all these things combine to create unnecessary discomfort.
Back pain is a much more common problem than most people realize. As colds and the flu are No. 1, lower-back pain is cited as the No. 2 reason why Americans see their doctors. Despite the prevalence of the problem, most people don’t put in the effort to examine their regular work habits to prevent it.
Quit what is stressing you
- The biggest mistake office workers make is continuing to sit in their desk chairs for hours on end. Most people don’t take care of themselves until they’re in pain. Sitting for sustained periods of time puts too much pressure on the discs and joints in your back.
- To give your body a break, regularly move your rear around in your chair and shift your weight. If you spend a lot of time on the phone, stand up occasionally during conversations and try to take a short walk at least every half-hour, even if it’s just to the water cooler or printer.
- It’s also a smart idea to examine your work stations for potential causes of imbalances. Are the floors in your office uneven? Does your chair rest half on and half off a thick, plastic rug pad? Do you, as many men do, keep your wallet in your back pocket and sit on it all day long? Do you cradle the phone between your head and shoulder instead of wearing a headset? Over time, that pressure may cause a disc to bulge, which can be painful.
- While you’re looking at your desk, check on the positioning of your chair, computer and phone. Ask your company for an adjustable chair that will help maintain the natural curves of your spine, supporting your lower back. Placing a pillow behind you will also help.
- Your feet should lightly rest on the floor or, if you’re short, on a footrest. You shouldn’t have to crane your neck forward, up or down to see your monitor, and you shouldn’t have to strain to reach your phone. The goal is to square yourself.
- Work-related stress can take its toll on your back too. While people manifest stress in different ways, it usually creates muscle tension. That constant contracting, over time, can cause muscle spasms and headaches and possibly make you more vulnerable to injury.
- If you’re too tired and stressed out after a long day of work to do anything but pass out on the couch, you could be compounding the problem. Just as you should be stretching your muscles throughout the day, you should also be giving them a regular workout, either at the gym, on the court or in the yoga studio.
- As with any change you make to your daily habits, there’s no guarantee an exercise regime will protect you from back problems. But it might decrease the frequency of recurrent episodes. For people in pain, it’s a move in the right direction.
For chronic and recurring back pain, it must be checked by a doctor. you can check on Dr Manuel Ybarra.