Back pain can be aggravating and exhausting at best. This kind of discomfort at its worst, can be completely traumatising. If you have ever woken up with severe backache, you know how quickly it can ruin your day, week, months or years.

With the kind of lives we live now, with most people working longer and sitting more, we are bound to have minor or major bouts with back pain.

The three most common causes of back pain are:

  • Slouching forward in your chair
  • Holding your telephone between your ear and your shoulder
  • Lack of movement during the workday

Knowing how painful this can be, here are some easy steps to help relieve you from back pain, and make you more productive.

1. Customize Your Chair and Desk

 back pain

Leaning forward in your chair crushes the disks in your lower back and puts strain on your neck and shoulders.

It is important to support the natural curve of your spine. Office chairs should have lumbar support, a natural forward curve at belly button level.

  • Adjust the height of your chair so you can keep your feet flat on the floor and your knees at a 90-degree angle. You can also rest your feet on a prop, like a footrest or even a phone book, for extra support.
  • Remove or lower the armrests so your arms are at a 90-degree angle. This will encourage you to hold your shoulders low, which your upper back will appreciate.
  • Keep your monitor about an arm’s length away and at or slightly below eye level. This will encourage you to sit back, instead of leaning forward and straining your neck. If you find yourself squinting at your monitor, adjust the lighting to reduce strain on the eyes.

2. Optimize Your Phone Calls

 back pain

Many people tuck their phone between their head and shoulder to free up their hands while talking, causing strain to their neck and shoulders. This is not helpful.

  • Use a headset or speakerphone if your conversation lasts more than five minutes or you need to take notes during the call.
  • Hold the phone in your hand and switch between your right and left sides throughout the conversation.

3. Get Up and Move

 back pain

Sitting (or even standing) in one position for an eight-hour workday can wreak havoc on your body. Move every 20 minutes throughout the day to ease the strain and lower back pain.

  • Take short breaks, or micro-breaks, once every hour to use the restroom, get a glass of water, and visit the copy machine or just stretch. Sitting for long periods can weaken the muscles in your back. Stretching for just 60 seconds is enough to offset these negative effects of sitting.
  • If you have a sit-stand workstation, alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day.
  • Strengthening your core muscles with exercises, such as yoga, pilates, or sit-ups, works your stomach as well your back, which naturally improves your posture and reduces pain.

4. Avoid prolonged static posture

 back pain

It is important to pay attention to the joints and muscles of your spine and hip. Prevent fatigue and stresses on these joints by following simple tips, such as:

  • Avoid excessive sitting or consider using a standing desk while you work. When you sit for a long duration, the pressure on your spinal discs increases. Aim to get up every hour and walk a short distance to take the load off your discs.
  • Check your posture and adjust your neck, shoulder, and back alignment to prevent stresses on your spine. Poor, unsupported posture can lead to several problems in your back, causing or increasing the pain.
  • If you have been standing and working for some time, consider changing to a different activity where you can sit down. You can go back to standing once the muscles and joints have had a chance to relax.

5. Sleep Well

 back pain

Sleep disturbances have been noted to make the pain worse. Lack of sleep can also affect how much pain a person can tolerate.

An uncomfortable mattress, pillows that are the wrong size or simply not getting adequate sleep could trigger back pain.

  • Proper comfort and alignment of the back is essential for sleep quality and avoiding back pain in the morning.
  • Makes sure the pillow is supportive enough to keep the back and neck in a straight line. If you sleep on your side,  place an extra pillow between your knees.
  • Speak to a doctor if lack of sleep continues to be a problem. Sleep disorders are often treatable. Getting enough rest may help relieve pain and can improve your overall health.

Moving forward

If the pain persists, it is best to visit a physician, physiotherapist or chiropractor to do further checks.

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