I treat a lot of patients that have low back pain. Their pain can come from a variety of different things, but there is always one that sticks out to me the most. Bad posture and work station ergonomics. This one is the most frustrating one because it’s something that can be avoided if the proper steps are taken. But, it is also very easy for patients to go right back into their old habits again. So how can you start to help your back pain today? Here are a few tips that you can do starting today.
Let’s start with your chair: You want to push yourself all the way back into the chair. They make the seat that big for a reason so use it. You want your feet sitting flat on the floor adjust the height of the seat so that this can occur. Make sure your upper and lower back are supported. If the chair does not allow for that, then get a small towel roll or pillow to put behind our back. Allow for the natural lordosis of you lumbar spine to occur and keep it like that with the roll. Lastly you want your arms to be relaxed on the arm rests. Make sure your shoulders are not in a constant shrugged position.
Next, adjust your keyboard and mouse position: You want your keyboard to be the center of your workstation. Palm supports can help keep your wrists maintain the same position but are not necessary. Place the mouse as close to the side of the keyboard as possible. Lastly adjust the monitor. You want the monitor to be at eye level. You don’t want your head to be tilting up or looking down as you stare at it all day. Place your telephone at an easy reach so that you do not have to go far. An ear piece can come in handy so that you do not have to hold anything or tilt your head to one side.
Lastly, you want to take breaks as the day goes on. Every 30 minutes take a few minutes to refocus. After each hour of work take a break or change your task for at least 5 minutes. Always try to get away from the computer during your lunch break. You are there long enough during the day. Resting your eyes is a good idea as well. No, I don’t mean take a nap. Although, Europeans have it right taking a siesta for 2 hours during the day! If you are able to then I suggest that you do it. But if you are unable to take that snooze in a nap pod like those at google I advise you to rest your eyes by simply closing them for about 30 seconds. This helps reset and focus as well as giving them a break from the computer screen.
It’s very important to have some sort of plan as to how you are going to set up your work station. Developing bad posture at work will lead to back problems in the future. Make sure that you are always moving and getting up from your chair every 45-60 minutes. It’s not only good for your back but it helps with circulation throughout your body. Take these steps and you will feel better than you did yesterday!