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How to Save Your Back in the Workplace

Back pain while sitting due to bad posture

Affecting nearly 80% of the American population at some point in their life, back pain is an all too common condition that can typically be prevented in most cases. Small changes such as “micro-breaks” and sitting posture can go a long way in ensuring proper function of your back. Furthermore, multiple studies have shown that the single greatest predictor of future back pain is having an episode of previous back pain. Therefore, in order to keep the back pain away as you get older, proper preventative measures are the key!

If you sit all day like many American’s in the workplace, there are pretty good odds that you have experienced the dull ache of being in a certain position too long. Your low back may start to hurt or the upper back may start to ache and tighten up. Typically this is your body’s way of letting you know that something is wrong and that you need to change your position. Unfortunately, the modern workstation is not designed with your back in mind. The two most common shortfalls seen are with the chairs themselves and the height of your keyboard.

Typical chairs often facilitate flexion of the low back (flattening of the natural curve), which goes hand-in-hand with slouching. This flexion of the low back puts extra pressure on the lumbar discs that if left in this position long enough can eventually lead to a disc bulge or full blown disc herniation. The best way to ensure a healthy low back is to stay out of this flexion position while we work all day, and the way this is achieved is with the chair itself. Now you don’t have to go out and buy an expensive ergonomic chair, all you need is something called a lumbar roll. Basically it is a special pillow designed to support that natural curve in low back, not allowing you to fall back into that slouched and flexed position. You can purchase these online, or you can make your own (see my additional blog posts for information on how to make your own).

The height of your keyboard can also surprisingly lead to back pain. If the keyboard is too high, it causes you to hike your shoulders up leading to you performing a perpetual shrug throughout the day. This can lead to upper back and neck tightness that so many of us experience daily. The easiest way to remedy this is to simply raise your chair to the point that, with your hands on the keyboard, your elbows are at 90 degrees. This will take pressure off your neck and upper back muscles, allowing them to calm down and give you some relief!

Finally, the single best thing you can do for your back (and overall well-being) is to take micro-breaks. Just as the name implies, the micro-break is a very short break taken multiple times an hour. All that needs to be done to reap the benefits of the break is to just get up and move! Arch the back, stretch out the neck, get the body moving in positions you weren’t in while working. I recommend to take a micro breaks every 20 minutes for 20 seconds. Although it doesn’t take a long time, it gets you out the prolonged postures long enough to have a profound preventative effect.

There you have it, by simply taking advantage of the micro-break and taking a look at your workplace posture, you can help prevent becoming one of the millions of back pain sufferers. With just a little effort, you can ensure that you live a long and pain-free life! For more information, please visit our additional blogs at

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