A sedentary job that forces you to sit at your desk for extended periods, if associated with incorrect posture, is certainly the cause of back pain. A pain that is usually localized in the lumbar area or in the center of the back that, if very acute, can be combated with a self-adhesive medical patch that counteracts inflammation in the back.
To prevent “back pain from the office” from occurring, however, it is possible to keep the posture and ergonomics under control so as to eliminate the root problem.
What is the correct posture at the desk?
When sitting at a desk for several hours a day, we need a suitable seat that supports our back. First of all, the chair must have enough space and an adequate inclination to support the buttocks and allow the thighs to stay in a horizontal position so that the feet touch the ground without effort.
Furthermore, the chair must have a backrest able to guarantee the correct posture of the back, preventing it from assuming unnatural inclinations, such as too much inclined backwards or forwards.
If we are at the desk for long hours reading books or documents, such as for a school or university study, it would be advisable to place the books in a raised position, as close as possible to eye level, so as not to be forced to bend the back to be able to read.
While, if you are at the desk to write, the correct posture requires that your forearms are resting on the desktop in a horizontal and relaxed position, always avoiding to bend your back in pride.
What is the correct posture in front of the PC?
Normally, however, office work forces us to hours and hours in front of the PC causing cervical pain and contractures in the neck, shoulder and back area caused by an incorrect posture in front of technological devices.
When sitting in front of the PC, in fact, the correct position to assume involves the direct positioning of the screen at eye level, at a distance that varies between 50 and 70 centimeters, so as not to force back and neck to unnatural inclination. When using the mouse or trackpad, however, the forearms must be well supported on the desktop, always in a horizontal and relaxed position.
What is the correct standing posture?
Maintaining a correct posture even when working upright is essential to prevent back pain. In this case, the correct posture is that which allows us to unload the weight of the body on the legs rather than on the spine, thus avoiding that our back becomes inflamed and starts to hurt.
To ensure the right posture even when standing, we must distribute our weight on both legs, keeping them slightly apart. The back instead must be straight and well aligned in a vertical position.
If the standing work involves the use of a work surface, this must have a height such that the forearms can rest in a horizontal and relaxed position so as not to be forced to bend the back into pride in order to work.
Regardless of the type of work, however, a prolonged incorrect posture can generate a series of painful symptoms, especially in the neck, shoulders and different parts of the back such as lumbosciatic pains, lumbago and back pain that are part of the typical “headache” office back. Not only that, any postural error can result then in a series of inflammations, tendinitis and painful symptoms also at the wrists, the thumb, the elbows, the knees, the ankles and other parts of the body.
In other cases, however, an incorrect posture can also cause drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, dizziness, nausea, loss of balance, headache, gastrointestinal problems and many others.
To solve posture problems there are some very useful exercises that can be divided into two categories: a real “office gymnastics” that can be done in work breaks and some postural or relaxation exercises that can be done at home instead.
Office gymnastics …
- Standing or sitting, rotate your shoulders describing circles 10 times clockwise and 10 times counterclockwise;
- Standing or sitting, fix a point in front of you and rotate your head without ever moving your eyes first to the right and to the left and then from top to bottom, 10 times;
- Standing, with the legs slightly apart, place the hands on the lumbar area and arch the back backwards so as to stretch the spine five times;
- Seated, with the legs slightly apart and the feet on the ground, place the elbows on the knees relaxing back and neck. Bend your back and head down and hold for a few seconds.
Postural exercises …
- Lie on your stomach, bend your knees and bring your arms over your head in contact with the floor, stretching them as far as possible. Hold the position for 15 seconds and repeat 10 times;
- Lie down on your stomach with your legs stretched out, stretch one at a time as much as possible for 15 seconds, repeat 10 times.
- Lying down on your stomach, place your elbows on the ground and your head in your hands. Arch your back for 15 seconds keeping your pelvis on the ground.