Does your job keep you on your feet all day at work? If so, you’re probably familiar with back pain. You may feel that standing all day is healthier than sitting, but neither is good if done constantly. The key to back health is movement/exercise and variety, along with proper posture, correct lifting techniques and workplace ergonomics. Put your health first by being mindful of your body’s needs while working. You’ll be more productive, experience less stress, have a better attitude and be healthier. Get into the habit of doing these things while at work to avoid and alleviate back pain:
- Work some variety into your workday: You guessed it--avoid prolonged standing-in-one-spot. Take a few minutes break regularly to walk or sit.
- Shift your weight and position: Shift from one foot to the other when standing all day at work. Flex the heel and point the toes of the non-weight-bearing foot, and circle your ankle. Now flex and point while on both feet. (Yes you’ll bob up and down a bit. Your co-workers should be busy enough not to notice and clients/customers may be doing the same movements as they converse/consult with you.) Do simple neck, shoulder and back stretches in the break room.
- Ponder your posture: Maintain proper curvature of the spine while standing. Don’t slump or lean forward with your posterior sticking out. Except when shifting to avoid same-position stress, keep the tailbone tucked under, shoulders down and back, and weight evenly distributed. Have your back specialist, chiropractor, physical therapist or family physician check your posture. Learn what good posture feels like, form a habit and replicate it at work.
- Rearrange your work space: If you find yourself bending awkwardly to lift or remove items from drawers—ask if you can re-arrange your area so that your usual movements are easier to do correctly. If you stand at the computer, make sure the screen is at eye level and that you’re not hunching your shoulders to type on the keyboard. HR staff may be able to order an ergonomic stool or other equipment.
- Use a headset: If you’re on the phone often and still using the ear-to-shoulder position or holding a handset to your ear for hours, make a switch. Improper position of neck, arms and shoulders (or strain on them) leads to back pain.
- Get some support: Use a footrest part of the time if possible. Put one foot on the rest for a while, then the other, shifting weight in a variety of comfortable, well-aligned body positions. This should allow the front thigh muscles and pelvis to relax and lessen spinal compression.
- Get exercise to strengthen your core: Stronger muscles better support your back when you stand at work.
- Do things differently: When you can, stroll over to talk to a colleague personally instead of phoning or emailing from your station. Be creative about working movement into your day.
- Don’t rest too much: It may be tempting to flop on the couch after standing all day at work, but keep up your pattern of shifting position and using proper posture at home, too.
- See your back specialist: Don’t live with pain or resort to taking pain medications daily. Even over-the-counter drugs have significant side effects, especially over time. A simple visit to your physician can diagnose any serious back problems and help restore your back to proper, painless function.
Contact the Illinois Back Institute for a free consultation with a local back specialist trained in the latest natural and non-invasive treatments. Learn more about the innovative, effective Functional Disc Rehydration™ treatment that’s helped thousands of our patients.