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Everyday Habits to Prevent Back Injury at Your Desk

Do you work at a computer on a daily basis or sit at a desk job for most of the day? How many hours, on average, do you spend sitting?

According to the Washington Post, the average office worker sits for about 10 hours a day – and that doesn’t even include the amount of time you spend sitting at home watching TV or doing other activities!

It’s no secret that there are a growing number of people who sit for prolonged periods of time at their desks. These long stretches of staying seated can lead to back pain and other health risks, such as: heart disease, obesity, depression, and joint problems. Below, we discuss some helpful tips to prevent back injury at your desk.

Tips to Prevent Back Injury at Your Desk

#1 – Take Micro-Breaks

Look for opportunities to stand and move around. Researchers at Cornell University advise taking a posture break every 20-30 minutes and standing/moving for a couple of minutes. Why? Movement is important for getting your blood to circulate throughout your muscles. Examples of movement can include:

  • 3d rendered medical illustration - correct sitting postureWalking to the printer
  • Walking to the water fountain
  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Walking around the parking lot
  • Parking further away from your office building
  • Standing for a meeting
  • And more

#2 – Use an Ergonomic Chair

The average chair ranges from 14 to 19 1/2″. The seat height should allow your feet to rest firmly on the floor or a footrest. Other important features of your chair include:

  • Good lumbar (lower back) support
  • Aim for a 90-degree angle at the hips and knees.
  • Seat pan width should allow you to have at least 1″ on each side of your hips.
  • Seat cushion should not be too hard or too soft
  • Five legs for stability

#3 – Take ‘Fitness’ Breaks

Rather than head to the vending machine for a snack, consider going for a walk around the office building or doing some light stretching.

#4 – Consider Using a Balance/Stability Ball as a Chair

As long as you’re safely able to do so, consider using a balance ball (stability) in lieu of a desk chair. Not only will it help you improve your posture (by forcing you to sit up straight) – it will also help tone your core muscles and may provide lower back relief.

While there are many benefits to using a balance ball, you’ll still want to periodically switch back to an ergonomic chair throughout the day as prolonged balancing on a stability ball can lead to increased fatigue in  your back.

#5 – Consider Your Keyboard and Computer Monitor Height

Consider using an adjustable keyboard to ensure that your wrists and hands are straight when typing. How much you tilt your keyboard will depend on how you are sitting. Depending on your desk setup, you may want to use a keyboard tray mechanism or keyboard feet to adjust the angle.

Focus on aligning your head and neck directly above your shoulders. Avoid hunching over or leaning forward. Your torso should be approximately an arm’s length away from your computer monitor, and your computer monitor should be 2 to 3 inches above eye level.

About WakeMed Rehab & Physical Therapy

Learn more about the conditions and injuries that we treat at WakeMed Rehab & Physical Therapy and call 919-350-7000 to schedule an appointment today.