How to help with back pain at work

Office health and safety

How to help with back pain at work

We’ve already brought to you the horrifying truth behind your poor office set-up. Here it was reported that around 81% of UK office workers spend between four and nine hours sitting at desks each day, with the office environment having a significant impact on their physical health and productivity. Added to that, Spine Health also attributes prolonged periods of sitting to causing lower back pain or worsening an existing back problem. It’s vital then that we all look for ways to help with back pain at work. 

What is the best office chair for back pain?

The first and obvious place to start is with the type of chair we sit on. When we’re spending hours in sedentary positions, we can’t waste time or put our health at risk by being flippant about what kind of office chairs we should be using. 

When looking for an office chair to support your back, neck, posture and to keep you comfortable, these are the things you should be looking for:

  • Lumbar support: An ergonomic chair will help support your lower back (lumbar) with designs like flex zones that give constant support – like the Ergohuman task chair
Home office chair to help with back pain and lumbar support
  • Adjustable height: You should be able to adjust your chair to keep you at a good level with your monitor, as well as allowing you to be in a comfortable position for your back
  • Adjustable tension: Many chairs allow you to adjust the tension, by increasing and decreasing it to suit your comfort level, helping to further support your back and posture
  • High backs: Chairs with high back support are great for posture and keeping your body upright. This is so important when confined to sitting at a desk for prolonged periods of time
  • Head and neck support: Having a chair with a height-adjustable, pivotal headrest is also important, as they give full cranial support and help with your overall posture
  • Locked positions: Especially for prolonged sitting, lockable positions are so good for our comfort and posture. A chair that can lock into various positions can help with supporting our lumbars 
  • Back tilt: This function is very beneficial for our comfort and backs to ensure we are in good positions for our posture 

The best office chair for back pain should be ticking off all these boxes. Luckily, you’re in the perfect place to find just the type of office seating that can help with back pain and support, specifically with our range of ergonomic executive office chairs

Office stretches and exercises for lower back pain

Woman lifting arms up at the desk to start a desk exercise

Having the right office chair is key to helping with lower back pain, but there are other things you can do to help with your posture and back pain, including exercise. Exercises you can do in the office or at your desk that help with back pain are:

  • Seated spinal rotations: Bupa advises on desk stretches to ease aches and pains, and they say to do a seated spinal rotation by crossing your arms over your chest whilst seated, before grabbing your shoulders. Then, “rotate your upper body from the waist, turning gently from left to right as far as feels comfortable. You should feel a tension on both sides of your lower back as it stretches out.”
  • Sitting back extensions: Another desk stretch for back pains or aches is a sitting back extension. All you have to do is to sit straight with feet together, putting the palms of your hands into the small of your back, before leaning back over your hands to feel your lumbar stretch out
  • Back flexion stretches: If you’re working from home, have a private office, or access to some private space, this is an ideal lie-down stretch. You simply lie on your back, pull your knees to your chest, flex your head forward until you feel a stretch in your mid to lower back region. You hold it there for five to ten seconds, before returning to the start position, and you repeat this around four to six times
  • Seated lateral trunk stretches: In a seated position, lift one arm over your head whilst placing the other hand on your thigh. Slowly, bend towards the opposite side where your hand is on your thigh until you feel a stretch along the side of your trunk (torso) and hold the stretch for 15 to 20 seconds. Repeat three to five times on each side 
  • Seated knee to chest stretches: Whilst sitting in your chair, lift one knee up to your chest so you can reach it with your hands. Use both hands to pull the knee, bending it upward, placed against your chest until you feel a slight stretch in the lumbar region and at the back of your hip. Hold the position for around 15 to 20 seconds, then repeat it three to five times with each knee
  • Prayer stretches: Another stretch for the floor, this one requires you to start on your hands and knees with your hands in front of your knees. You then slowly lower your bottom towards your feet until you feel a mild to moderate stretch through your mid to lower back area. Hold this stretch for around 15 to 20 seconds, then repeat three to five times
  • Walking and standing: And of course, you should aim to take regular breaks from prolonged sitting by getting up and stretching your legs. Whether it’s a walk to the office kitchen or in the garden if you’re working from home, regular movement and breaks from sitting will be good for your physical health and alleviating back pain. Opt for sit-to-stand desks to give yourself more movability whilst working

The best sitting position in the office to avoid back pain

The most important thing for avoiding back pain is in your sitting position. Bupa states you can prevent back pain and other problems by just having a comfortable desk set-up. You should be mindful of your posture and how you sit on a day-to-day basis. But, just how should we be sitting then?

  1. You should be keeping your chair close to your desk
  2. Make sure you can adjust the height of your chair to keep your feet on the floor and the top of your monitor at your eye level – your monitor should be at arm’s length
  3. Your hips should be above your knees
  4. You should be sat right back in your chair, making sure your whole back is supported
  5. The backrest should fit the natural curve of your lower back and should be slightly reclined (10 to 15 degrees)
  6. Shoulders should be relaxed with your elbows at a 90 degrees angle, just above the desk
  7. Things should be kept in reach at your workstation, with the most used items within range for you to grab them easily. You should avoid leaning across your desk, to maintain effective lumbar support at all times

Again, it can’t be stressed enough to keep taking breaks and giving yourself movement throughout the working day. Alongside this, you should remember to drink plenty of water, stretch, move, and eat well. Regular movement and breaking up prolonged sitting is not only good for preventing back pain, it’s also great for your overall health, productivity and mindset. 

If you need help deciding what office chair is right for you, we’re more than happy to discuss options. Contact our friendly, expert team today.