Lower Back Pain
There are many different kinds of back pain. But to keep it simple ask yourself this question: Is your pain worse with prolonged sitting? Or is it worse when you move? Either way, there are several common causes that can aggravate back pain symptoms and some changes you can make by identifying how you are working
Cause: Inadequate back support – backrest too high or too low.
Solution: The lower back needs the base of the chair back supporting the lordosis or forward curve not pushing against the buttock muscles. Raise the chair back if necessary. The height of this lumbar support area is dependent on your individual back shape and there are many different styles of office chair.
Cause: Chair back not used (see image)
Solution: Check and see that your back is in contact with the chair back as you work. Some people work in a tense manner without touching the chair back and this creates a lot of body tension unnecessarily.
Cause: Forward slump / slouch – ‘hanging’ into lumbar ligaments.
Solution: Make sure your buttocks are right at back of chair and the chair back lumbar cushion supports the curve in your back. Pull chair in close to front of desk and lean back on chair back as you work. A footrest may be needed for short people.
Cause: Not sitting in chair properly – perching with tense back muscles.
Solution: Adjust the chair back so you can feel the whole back and relax your back muscles as you work. Pull chair in close to front of desk and possibly use a footrest to keep your back back and avoid slumping forwards.
Cause: Feet not supported if you are short in stature.
Solution: An adjustable footrest is necessary for taking the strain off the legs and lower back if your feet do not comfortably reach the floor (see image) or change to a height adjustable desk so you can lower the desk to suit you height requirements.
Cause: History of trauma / damage in which case prolonged sitting usually increases pain levels.
Solution: Always ensure you completely recover from past injuries restoring full range of pain free normal movement wherever possible. Stand and move around for short breaks every 20 minutes when your job is sedentary. It is a good idea to set a timer on your phone or computer to remind you to stand and move.
Cause: Sitting still for long periods without taking a break and walking around.
Solution: Back pain is often made worse by periods of sitting still. Stand and move around for short breaks every 20 minutes when your job is sedentary. It is a good idea to set a timer on your phone to remind you to stand and move. You may have to do this more frequently depending on your back symptoms. A height adjustable desk allows you to continue working as you change from the sitting to the standing work position. Have a good exercise regime for after working hours.
It is advisable to consult a professional if symptoms do not change in a 48 hour period after you have attempted to make work station changes.