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Back pain at work

Bain Pain at Work


Did you know that back pain is the second most common cause of long-term sickness in the UK after stress.

Between 2010 and 2011, approximately 7.6 million working days were lost due to work related back and other musculature pains and conditions.

Back pain can be triggered by everyday activities at home or at work, or it can develop gradually over time. The most common causes of back pain are strained muscles, general wear and tear, bad posture and stress.

Back pain at your desk – It only ends in trouble!

Sitting in front of a computer for hours is only going to end up being trouble for your back. Your body can only remain in one position for so long until you naturally feel the need to adjust.  Factors affecting bad posture and back pains around your workstation include, seating positon and chair height, computer screen position and height and keyboard and mouse position. The way you generally have your desk laid out may also be affecting your posture, increasing back pains and disorders.

If you do work in an office and sit in front of a computer you can decrease the chance of posture related issues, back pains and avoid injury by –

  • Sitting in the right position – Support your back and have your feet firmly flat on the floor. Supporting your back and having a chair that’s easily adjusted will enable you to lessen the strain on your lower back when seated. Ensure your knees are also level with your hips at a 90° angle.
  • Adjust your chair – The height of your chair should be adjusted so you can reach your mouse and keyboard with your wrist and forearms in a neutral position. Your forearms should then create and ‘L’ shape when bent.
  • Place your screen at eye level – Placing your screen directly in front of you with the top of the screen at eye level will limit straining and having to bend your neck. If you can’t adjust your screen to eyelevel then you may need to get a stand for your monitor.
  • Keyboard positioning – Your keyboard should be placed directly in front you with room for your wrists to rest during periods of typing. Your elbows should then be vertical under your shoulders and by your sides.
  • Don’t let your mouse get away – Keeping your mouse close will limit the need for overstretching. It may sound silly but keeping it closer to you will enable you to use it easier causing less strain on your wrists and awkward bending. You can also use a mouse mat with wrist support.
  • Phone strain – If you use your phone regularly, try and replace the handset with a headset as this will help limit the strain put on your neck muscles when trying to hold it between your ear and shoulder.

Making changes to the layout of your workstation and reorganising objects used on a regular basis will help prevent back pain and posture related disorders and in particular, repetitive strain injuries.

Tips for a healthy back:

  • Take regular breaks from your desk or your work

  • Vary your activities throughout the day

  • Sit up straight

  • Exercise regularly

  • Lose any excess weight

Preventing back pain through proper lifting.

Another big problem and cause of back pain at work is lifting or handling objects incorrectly.  Improper lifting can lead to back, leg and arm pain and poor technique can cause both acute injury and serious chronic effects.

One of the most important things to remember when lifting is to LIFT WITH YOUR KNEES, NOT YOUR BACK.

Below are a few more tips:

  • Think before you lift.

  • Start in a good position.

  • Keep the load close to your waist.

  • Keep your back as straight as possible.

  • Avoid twisting your back or leaning sideways.

  • Keep your head up.

  • Know your limits.

  • Push heavy objects, don’t pull them.

  • Distribute the weight evenly.

Finally, taking frequent short breaks rather than fewer long breaks away from your desk will help give your muscles time to relax preventing them from stiffening and becoming tense.

Don’t sit in the same position for long periods and make sure you change your posture as often as is practicable.










*Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at