Have you ever had a day off work due to back pain? If so, you’re not alone. Back pain is the number one cause of long-term sickness in the UK, causing British businesses last year to lose approximately 15 million work days, according to the NHS.
Among the most common causes of back pain are poor posture and stress – both of which can be directly related to the workplace. If you want to learn about how to stay healthy at work, there are a variety of occupational health and safety training courses available, such as those provided by SHEilds.
In the meantime, follow these simple steps to prevent back pain:
Adjust your chair
Most office work chairs are now height adjustable and have back rests that are adjustable in both height and tilt. These ergonomic chairs are designed to allow you to find a comfortable position and prevent slouching and huncing. When sat down, your feet should be flat on the floor or on a foot rest to support your back, with your legs and elbows at right angles to your body. You should also try to avoid crossing your legs, as this can place excessive strain on your back muscles.
Get up and about
Even if you get your positioning right, sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods can also cause back pain. You should aim to get up from your workstation every half an hour or so and move about for at least two minutes to stretch your muscles. You should also try to change your posture frequently so that you’re not sat in the same position for a long time.
It’s also a good idea to take shorter, more frequent breaks rather than fewer, longer breaks to stop your muscles from becoming stiff and tense. Taking a break can be anything from getting a drink to doing some filing or photocopying.
However, it’s not just a correct sitting position that can prevent back pain – there are elements of your workstation that need consideration too.
Check your workstation
Once you’ve mastered your posture, you’ll need to take a look at the position of your screen. If your monitor is positioned too high or too low, you’ll end up arching your neck or hunching your back to see it properly. Position your screen at eye level and close enough so that you don’t have to lean forward.
You will also need to consider the position of your mouse and keyboard. Leaning forward to use either can have an affect on your posture and, in turn, lead to back pain.
If you’re unsure about your seating or the set up of your workstation, ask your manager for a workplace assessment.
Treating back pain
Often, the best treatment for back pain is to keep active, as immobilising yourself can cause the muscles to become weak. Staying sat down for long periods of time and having poor posture can, over time, lead to more serious health problems, so make sure you take the necessary steps to prevent this from occurring.
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