ShareThis Page
Health

Is your back killing you at work? 5 tips that can help

| Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018, 1:33 a.m.
Sitting all day at a computer takes a toll on our backs.
Fecha
Sitting all day at a computer takes a toll on our backs.

The work day ends, but the back pain doesn’t.

Sitting all day at a computer takes a toll on our backs, yet for a large percentage of Americans, sitting in front of a computer sums up their job description.

And that work-related back pain that starts out minor can soon become severe, causing problems in all areas of your life.

“The longer you have a back problem, the more damage it will create, the more it will resist getting better, and the more time it will take to heal,” says Bradford Butler, a chiropractor and author of “The Blueprint for Back Pain Relief: The Essential Guide to Nonsurgical Solutions.” “So, the best course is to prevent back problems from happening to begin with.”

He offers a few tips for those whose jobs require them to sit, sit and sit some more:

Watch how you sit. Most people are putting pressure on their backs, necks and shoulders because they don’t work in an ergonomically correct position, Butler says. Here’s how to achieve the optimal position: Sit with your body no more than an arm’s length from the computer and mouse, and don’t lean your head and neck forward. You should be able to rest your hand comfortably on the mouse with the elbow at the same height as the mouse pad. The monitor should be 2 or 3 inches above eye level.

Choose the right chair. Ideally, you want a chair with lumbar support. “If there is no lumbar support, you can place a pillow behind your lower spine,” Butler says. Chairs that can tilt back also take pressure off the base of the spine and help prevent back pain. But if back pain has already started, Butler suggests placing ice between the lumbar support and the back for 20 minutes to reduce inflammation.

Don’t cradle your phone. Have you ever pinned your phone between your shoulder and your ear so you can type while you talk? Butler has a one-word piece of advice: Don’t. “The intense strain from holding the phone that way for more than a couple of minutes can have a lasting effect on your posture and add to your back and neck pain,” he says.

Take a break. For about five minutes every hour, get up and move around. Take a walk, stretch or do anything that takes you away from the computer and lets your body escape all the sitting and staring you’ve been doing, Butler says.

Unload some baggage. Do you carry to work a bag or briefcase that’s so heavy even an Olympic weightlifter would feel the strain? If it weighs more than 10 percent of your body weight, then it’s putting too much of a strain on your back, Butler says. He suggests you lighten the load or get a different bag, preferably one with a long strap so it can be carried across your chest like a messenger bag. That can reduce the diagonal load on your back.

“It’s important to understand that your spine was designed to move,” Butler says. “If you are sitting for a good part of your day, you are effectively doing the opposite of what keeps your spine healthy.

“The old saying ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ couldn’t be truer, especially when it comes to your back. Prevention is a mindset. You probably already do it in other areas of your life. When it comes to your back, you just need some new thinking and new habits.”

Bradford Butler, a chiropractor and author of “The Blueprint for Back Pain Relief: The Essential Guide to Nonsurgical Solutions,” is owner and director of Oakland Spine and Physical Therapy in northern New Jersey.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me