Ergonomics Worker health and wellness Musculoskeletal disorders Worker Health and Wellness

Reduce lower back pain: 3 tips from surgeons group

Photo: Jose Martinez Calderon/iStockphoto

Rosemont, IL — In light of data showing that about 1 in 4 working adults have low back pain, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is offering tips to strengthen and protect the back.

“Good musculoskeletal health is not just about treating problems when they arise; it’s about taking proactive steps to prevent them in the first place,” Alan S. Hilibrand, an orthopaedic surgeon specializing in spine surgery, said in an AAOS press release. “By maintaining proper ergonomics at our workstations and building the strength of our core stabilizing muscles, we can significantly reduce the risk of developing debilitating chronic or debilitating back pain and related conditions.”

So, whether working from home or in an office, or a combination of both, “it’s important to invest in your musculoskeletal health and protect your back,” AAOS says. Here’s how:

1. Check your posture. “Sitting properly is the first step to protecting your back. You may not realize how often you slouch or hunch over your desk while working.” Maintaining and practicing the right posture can help prevent back pain and injury. While sitting, keep your back in a “normal, slightly arched position and your head and shoulders erect.” If needed, adjust your chair so your elbows are relaxed, your hands are resting comfortably on a table or desk, your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle, and your feet are flat on the floor.

2. Create an ergonomic workspace. “Your work environment can have a big impact on your comfort and musculoskeletal health. Instead of forcing your body to fit your workspace, set up your workspace to fit your body.” Make sure your computer screen is at eye level so you don’t need to lean forward. Invest in ergonomic office equipment that’s designed for back support and proper posture. Consider using an exercise ball (or Swiss ball) as a desk chair to help your core and protect your back.

3. Give yourself a break. Take a few minutes every hour to stand up and slowly stretch. “Carefully place your hands on your lower back and gently arch backward. Take a walk to the break room, another room in your remote workplace or take a lap around the office. You can even try some simple desk exercises like neck stretches and shoulder rolls. A break not only protects your back but can also refresh your mind so you can return to your work with sharp focus.”

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