Lower back pain can throw a major wrench in your busy work day. To help keep you on track, here is a beginner's guide to minimizing back pain at work:
Practice good posture
Many of us spend the majority of our work day sitting down. If you're not careful, during this time you can easily slip into poor habits like sitting on the edge of your chair or hunching forward towards the computer screen. Over time, these poor habits can lead to, or aggravate, lower back pain by overstretching your spinal ligaments and placing stress on your muscles and spinal discs.
So to help minimize back pain at the office it is important to practice good posture. Here are a few posture-related tips to keep in mind as you go about your day:
- Sit with your shoulders tall and your head level over your spine. Also try to keep your back flush against your office chair.
- Place your feet flat against the floor (you do not need to apply active pressure with your feet). If you can't reach the floor, a footrest is a great option.
- Ensure that your gaze aligns with your computer screen. You do not want to have to look up or down, but rather straight forward.
In addition to practicing good posture, you may also benefit from a nontraditional office set-up like a standing desk or replacing your chair with an exercise ball.
Apply cold therapy
When your lower back pain flares-up at work, you need a solution that provides quick relief. While no single treatment option works for everyone, cold therapy may promptly alleviate your symptoms with minimal side effects.
The benefits of cold therapy include reducing inflammation, numbing sore tissues, and decreasing tissue damage. There are numerous discrete options for achieving these benefits, including disposable cold packs and a frozen water bottle.
While cold therapy is a great option for back pain relief, there are several precautions to keep in mind:
- Avoid direct contact between the cold source and your skin to prevent ice burn.
- Limit the application of cold therapy to 20 minutes at a time.
- Avoid cold therapy if you have rheumatoid arthritis, Raynaud’s syndrome, or areas with impaired sensation.
Speak with your boss
Often times, others at your office may not be aware that you suffer from lower back pain. So if you find that your pain is interfering with your day-to-day responsibilities, make sure to make your boss aware of the situation.
She or he may be able to provide you with special accommodations, such as an ergonomic chair or adjusted duties that require less sitting throughout the day. The important thing to remember is that if you don't ask, no one will know you need special accommodations.
All of the above advice may not completely solve your back pain problems at the office, but even if they can provide a little relief they are worth your time and effort.