Scores of people work at a desk for most of their workday, whether in an office or at home. Unfortunately, one of the byproducts of this is back pain, which can really cramp your style — and limit your movement.

The good news is that you can do things to improve the way your work area works for you and your comfort.

Dr. Mandeep Walia-Bhatia helps patients get to the root of a wide range of physical conditions, including office ergonomics-related ones such as this. When you design your office so that you can work efficiently and comfortably, you can be more productive and emerge pain-free from your workday.

Why does back pain develop after sitting?

It may surprise you since sitting is seemingly a resting position, but it causes quite a bit of strain for your back, as well as your arms, legs and neck, especially when your posture and office setup isn’t supportive of your comfort.

This is because sitting:

  • Puts great pressure on your back muscles
  • Compresses your discs, the cushions that separate your vertebrae
  • Leads to tight hip flexors and buttocks muscles
  • Can cause a herniated, or bulging disc that leads to a pinched spinal nerve
  • Contributes to sciatica, a painful condition that can affect the lower back, leg, and foot

When we sit for prolonged periods, we have the tendency to develop poor posture, where we slump forward. This also puts pressure on our backs.

The way our office areas are set up can also contribute to problems and pain. If your computer screen isn’t at eye level, your office chair’s armrests aren’t set up correctly, and your chair doesn’t offer proper lower back support, your comfort long-term is definitely at risk.

Tips for preventing back pain from sitting at your desk

As we said, setting your work area up the right way can do wonders for your back. Try to ensure that:

1. Screen time smarts

Your computer screen is at a level so that your eyes meet the middle of it. You can prop it on several books or use an adjustable device to place your laptop on and get your screen at the correct level.

2. Sitting pretty

When sitting, you should be able to slide your fingers under your thighs easily. If you can’t, using a footrest can help.

3. Picture perfect posture

Your buttocks should be right up against the back of your chair when you’re working, and you should place a cushion on the back of it as well, that causes your back to be slightly arched. This discourages slumping and back strain.

4. Make it easy on your neck and shoulders

Adjust your chair’s armrests so that your wrists and lower arms are just a bit raised. This takes strain off your shoulders and neck, and it also makes it harder for you to slouch.

5. Bright ideas

Make sure your work area is well lit, so you don’t have to strain or move into an awkward position to see clearly and do your work.

In addition to taking these steps to improve your workspace, it’s important to change position about every 30 minutes when you’re working. Getting an adjustable desk that allows you to both stand and sit enables you to do this.

When you come to Gain Wellness Center for help with back pain caused by sitting while you work, Dr. Walia-Bhatia will also give you guidance about lifestyle choices, such as how you handle stress, why it’s important to keep moving and exercise to avoid a sedentary lifestyle (as well as exercises that can help back pain), and how a healthy diet rich in foods that fight inflammation can support back health.

She will also discuss how prolonged sitting can contribute to chronic health conditions down the line, like diabetes and high blood pressure.

Because Dr. Walia-Bhatia takes a holistic approach to caring for you, she’s invested in examining every aspect of your physical and emotional health, because they’re all connected and impact each other.

She may also suggest that you have a complete wellness evaluation, which helps her pinpoint solutions that can inform your customized treatment plan even more deeply.

If sitting at work is making you miserable, consult with Gain Wellness Center, so you can get back to having loads of energy and engaging in your favorite activities without fearing back pain. You can call our Poway office at 858-206-9715 or connect with us online.

Author Dr. Mandeep Walia-Bhatia, DC, AFMCP Dr. Mandeep Walia-Bhatia, DC, AFMCP, is the founder of Gain Wellness Center in San Diego, California. At the wellness center, one of Dr. Walia’s, greatest goals, as a health care provider, is to provide her practice members with alternative, but healthy and safe choices that will enhance their health and well-being. She likes to motivate and educate her practice members to take charge of their health by providing them with evidence-based information so that they can make informed decisions regarding their own personal health and take control of their health. Dr. Walia was born in India and raised in Canada before moving to San Diego. She attended McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada for her Master of Science degree with specialties in Biology and Physiology. She had various publications in research articles during her time at McMaster University funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. She has three kids and enjoys cooking, hiking and going to the beach with her family.

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