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Ergonomic Tips to Protect Your Back at Work

13 April 2023

In today's digital age, we easily end up spending 10 hours or more in front of a screen. Whether that's a computer, phone, tablet, or TV - it doesn't matter. We keep alternating between them, and while it makes us feel like we brought about some kind of change (moving from your computer desk to your bed with your phone, for example) it doesn't actually make much of a difference.

Screen time gets even worse when you factor in how many of us work on the computer for our jobs. After a long day of work, we want to switch to the good screen and binge the latest series on Netflix, or catch up with your friends on your socials.

While that's understandable, it does come with a major problem: back pain.

Sitting at a desk all day can cause some pain and discomfort in the back, sometimes moving up to the neck, and it usually starts to extend to all other parts of our lives too.

The good news, however, is that there are ways to prevent it! Let's look at some ergonomic tips to protect your back at work.

Preventing Back Pain

For most people, back pain becomes something to think about once the problem has already settled in. When you start feeling the pain, you naturally become more inclined to do something about it, but back care should be something you do preemptively - prevention is better than cure, after all!



Move More!

Staying idle is one of the reasons so many problems exist nowadays. In fact, to protect your spine, you need to keep moving throughout the day at small intervals. Even something as simple as going for a walk during your lunch break can help improve your spine health.

You can also set reminders on your phone that will alert you if you've been staying idle for a long period of time, so you can get moving. There are also plenty of apps that can do the job for you.

Moving around isn't just limited to the workday though. Try and make a habit out of moving even before or after you get to work. From walking to the office - or the bus stop, if it's too far - to heading to the gym after work, there are plenty of ways you can incorporate more movement into your day.

The problem of a sedentary lifestyle isn't about the workplace - though it is a contributor - it's also about how we spend our lives outside of work. If you head home and spend the next few hours lounging around on the sofa, you're not doing your back any favors.



Posture

Posture is an important part of protecting yourself from back problems. In fact, you might say that a fairly large percentage of people with back problems find themselves in this situation because they were not maintaining the correct posture.

Posture is actually quite difficult to correct, because quite a lot of us have developed the habit of holding bad posture, and there are quite a lot of things that encourage it to get worse. However, bad posture isn't just an excellent way to develop back problems (which we're sure you don't want) but it can also cause other problems, like musculoskeletal disorders and nerve compression.

Keeping reminders for yourself to correct your posture is one way to fix it, but you can also opt for other options, like ergonomic furniture.



Opt For a Sit-Stand Desk

Sit-stand desks do seem like something of a fad, but they are much more than that! Sit-stand desks are an excellent way to make sure your back remains safe, not only because it encourages you to keep moving - by alternating between sitting and standing - but standing also encourages good, neutral posture.

Sit-stand desks can also help prevent pain by making sure you don't fall victim to hunching over on your desk. Besides just helping you with your back, sit-stand desks also help offset some of the negative effects of sitting for long stretches of time, such as obesity, cardiovascular problems, and MSDs.

A sit-stand desk like Flexispot's Comhar All-in-One Standing Desk can be an excellent addition to your workspace - not just because of the benefits it provides as a sit-stand desk, but also because of its minimalist design that works well with any sort of interior decor.



Get an Ergonomic Chair

After your desk, your chair is probably the first thing you'd think of when it comes to designing and organizing your workspace. After all, you need a place to sit while you work!

While there are hundreds of options when it comes to office chairs, what you're really looking for is a chair that keeps your body's health and ergonomics in mind. That is, you want a chair that can provide support to your back and make sure that you're sitting in a position that keeps it safe.

Flexispot's Ergonomic Mesh Chair is a great example - the back of the chair follows the natural curve of your spine and makes sure to provide adequate support to your lumbar region (lower back) when you're sitting.

While sitting for long periods isn't generally recommended anyway, it's not realistic to expect everyone to be as proactive about their sit-stand schedule as they should be. In such cases, the Ergonomic Mesh Chair makes sure to provide the right kind of support and keep your back supported.

The headrest on the chair also makes sure to support your head and neck and keep your spine straight - from the cervical spine all the way down to the tailbone. Neck pain can sometimes contribute to back problems by spreading downwards if the problem gets too severe.

With a chair that provides adequate support, you can prevent these things from happening.



Engage in Active Sitting

The problems with sitting for long periods stem from the fact that most of us engage in passive sitting - that is, sitting idly for long periods. When you sit still, your blood flow and circulation are affected, and this weakens the muscles in your body. As a result, they become unable to hold their body in the correct posture, which results in you leaning and hunching and thus, problems with their back.

Active sitting, on the other hand, provides a bit of a solution to the problem. Active sitting is where you keep your body engaged in some kind of activity and provide movement to your muscles. This stimulates your oxygen and blood flow and thus keeps you energized and alert during the day, as well as making sure your back doesn't suffer as a result.

You can engage in active sitting by opting for chairs that have built-in mechanisms to make the chair move throughout the day - just enough to provide movement, but not so much that it becomes distracting. You can also opt for under-desk exercises, like a treadmill or an under-desk bike that can keep you active even when you're sitting.



Do Some Stretches

Stretches are necessary for improving problems with your back. While stretching won't do the trick on its own if you're already suffering from back pain, it can still help alleviate the problem by a fair amount.

But stretches can be great for helping prevent back pain. There are plenty of stretches you can do at your desk that can help you regain your strength during the day. For example, stretching your arms, neck, shoulders, and back - while stretching may get you a few funny looks while you're at the office, your back will be safe from worries, which is a lot more important.



Take Breaks

Taking a break is necessary to protect your body from any kind of problem. From carpal tunnel syndrome to back problems, you need to take an adequate amount of rest between stretches of work to make sure your body can be rejuvenated and make you feel fresh again.

Breaks don't have to be very elaborate; even a five-minute break every half hour can be enough because taking a step away - even if it's metaphorical - can help your body get rid of some of the stress and let you calm down.

However, when you do take breaks, make sure you're not just moving from one screen to another. Spend your breaks stepping away from your desk and moving about a bit to improve your circulation and allow your muscles to get moving again.

It doesn't take a lot to hurt your back, but it takes a long time and a lot of effort to fix it. With these tips, though, you can prevent the problem if you're fortunate enough to not be facing it yet, and keep it from getting worse if you weren't as lucky.

Remember, nobody's safe from the problem of back pain, so it's always in your best interests to be proactive about protecting yourself, rather than waiting around and then having to visit the doctor.