What’s causing your back pain at work?

5 things you can do to ease the pain of returning to work! 

By Dr Nathanael Bogedain, Chiropractor at ProBack 

With the summer holidays now firmly over and the September ‘return to work’ period in full swing, people around the UK are making the mental shift of getting back into routine.

But what’s equally as important is to prepare for the physical change of returning to work, which can (quite literally) be a pain in the back!And as anyone who’s ever had back pain will know, the discomfort can dampen even the most enthusiastic attempt to make the transition with a spring in your step. 

Luckily there are ways to prevent back pain at work! Here are the five top things you need to consider for a better back as you get back into the swing of things… 

  1. Your laptop bag

Let’s start with that heavy laptop you lug around. If you must commute with your laptop or other heavy items, avoid using a shoulder bag and opt for a backpack for better weight distribution. Make sure it sits snuggly against your back and strap it tightly to your torso rather than letting it hang low. Also, only wear your backpack for as long as you must – taking it off while you sit or stand on your commute will always be beneficial for your back. 

  1. Move, baby move!

It’s safe to say that movement is good for back pain, so long as it’s done carefully.For most office employees,spending hours sitting at a desk is the order of the day. So,aim to combat the negative aspects of a sedentary routine by seeking out opportunities to move. Taking a 45-minute walk at the end of your work day will work wonders in loosening up your body. Alternatively, simply opt to take the scenic route whenever you have the chance – for example: walk for an extra stop on your bus route, use the bathroom on a different level in your office building and take the stairs to get there, or park some distance away from the front door. 

If you spend long periods of time sitting down, it’s possible to loosen up your upper and lower spine and maintain your holiday flexibility from the comfort of your desk! Simply roll your shoulders 10-15 times, then pretend you’re holding a pen between your shoulder blades and tighten them for 5-10 seconds. Do 12-15 repetitions of this squeezing movement, then bend down and try to touch your toes. Do around 10 sets of this series.

  1. Feeling stressed?

When you feel stressed, the muscles in your shoulders and back tighten which leads to back pain. So, try working some of the holiday activities that made you feel relaxed – such as reading, enjoying nature, spending time with your children or exercising – into your daily routine where possible.

  1. Sit straight

When you sit, you should have a good lumbar curve (an inward curve in the lower back). If you sit down at your desk and slouch, that curves disappears and your spine becomes straighter meaning it absorbs less shock when you get up and move about. Sit at the back of your chair, and make sure you’ve got a good lumbar support in your office chair, so you can stick your bum out a bit.

  1. Dump the heels!

Wearing high heels shifts your centre of gravity, pushing your head forward. The muscles around the spine are not designed to hold this position for extended periods of time and so naturally become fatigued which makes them hurt. Regularly wearing heels may have a detrimental effect on the position of the spine, so wear them sparingly in the office and lose the heels altogether when you commute!

For a less painful return to the office, be mindful of these tips and triggers and your back will be office-ready in no time. However, if you have back pain and it persists or is very severe, you should always consult a professional.