With 49% of us suffering from back pain at some point in our lives, and a whopping 2.9 million days being lost due to work-related back disorders on 2014/15 (source), it’s time to take action against back pain at work and arm ourselves with the tools to prevent the onset of attacks.
With back pain related absences costing the UK economy £14bn a year (source) and a growing number of freelancers, self-employed people and other people not bring eligible for sick pay, the financial implications of back pain mean it’s not just our health which is suffering, our pockets are also feeling the pinch.
It’s not just manual workers feeling the strain either, with 50% of office workers experiencing some level of back pain. There are ways you can help prevent back pain in the office. Here are some tips on how to organise yourself, and your workstation to help prevent pain:
1. Your chair
Raise or lower your chair so your desk is at elbow height.
Use a foot rest to raise your feet if you need to so your hips are at a 90-degree angle.
2. Your monitor
Position your monitor directly in front of you, not to the side.
The top of your screen should be in line, or slightly lower than your eye line when sitting up straight.
3. Your mouse
Position the mouse close enough to you that you can keep your elbow bent and forearm on the desk as you use it
Train yourself to use the mouse with both hands and alternate sides
4. Your phone
Don’t rest the phone in between your shoulder and ear
If you need your hands free, or use the phone frequently, invest in a headset
Finally, try to take breaks every 15-30 minutes. Standing up every 15 minutes and stretching your body forwards, backwards and side to side is proven to help reduce back pain. Even if you just get up to make a drink, or visit the loo, your body will thank you for a break from maintaining a static position and giving you a chance to loosen your muscles.