On average, people spend from 8 to 12 hours a day sitting. And much of this time is spent in front of computer working.
But the fact is, in a physical, mental, and emotional sense this is not what we as humans are “designed” to do. We’re naturally meant to be moving around far more during the daytime, as people have done for nearly all of human history.
This extreme stationary lifestyle, dictated by how we work, relax, and travel today (computers, TV, driving, etc.), is the #1 cause of our contemporary epidemic of neck and back pain. It is also a key cause of the today’s epidemic levels of overweight and obesity, stress and depression, and the chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer that result from it.
In terms of back pain alone, an astounding 80% of all people today experience it at some point. Back pain is not only one of the most common ailments among seniors, but it is actually second on the list of reasons adults under age 45 miss work (behind colds)… a loss of some 83 million workdays every year.
But there is GREAT NEWS – you can overcome and prevent the pain, stress, and disease without quitting your job and becoming a sheepherder.
It starts with becoming aware of the most effective “office ergonomic” strategies to end and avoid the pain, and then making sure you put them into practice.
On that note, here are the top 4 most important strategies…
1) Invest in a Chair that LOVES Your Back & Body
People will spend hours, days, or longer researching the best cell phones, cameras, appliances, and cars.
But when you think about how much time people spend sitting, it is rather absurd that most people give little or not attention to what is easily one of the most important tools for their health and happiness… their office chair.
Investing in the right chair is the #1 smartest move you can make to stop and avoid pain and stress.
You’ll want a chair that:
- Allows you to MOVE around in it, even small motions… because your body abhors a chair that keeps you static!
- Matches your body’s unique center of gravity, and allows adjustments in order to do so… so your spine and your muscles are balanced versus being stressed
- Makes it virtually impossible to slouch… because slouching is one of the WORST things you can do (and many people, especially men, will tend to do it otherwise in poorly designed chairs)
- Makes it virtually impossible to “perch” on the edge of the chair and at odd angles (women especially tend to do this otherwise, and it is very bad for your back and neck as well)
- Offers adjustable and exceptional lumbar support, meaning your lower back is kept in a natural position preventing severe lower back pain!
Those are some of the keys to seek in this #1 most important office tool.
2) Take Plenty of Breaks that Include Moving Around and Stretching
Your body (and your brain) will suffer if you don’t get up, move around, and stretch frequently.
In the U.S. alone, over $50 billion is spent on back pain remedies… but if people just followed the tip about office chairs above and this tip alone, MOST of those expenses (and the great risks that come with conventional back pain treatments like drugs and surgery) could be avoided.
So stand up frequently and walk around a bit.
And for goodness sake, do some stretches for your back, neck, arms, and legs especially! I’ve got many great stretches you can do in videos that are FREE and immediately accessible on LosetheBackPain.com, and I am always publishing more in our free newsletter.
Right now you can check out two of my free videos for some great office stretches:
5-Minute Office Stretch Routine 1
5-Minute Office Stretch Routine 2
3) Position Your Computer Properly to Avoid Strain on Your Body
Here at the Healthy Back Institute we’ve researched over the years how people typically work in front of their computers … and to be blunt, it is horrendous. Most people contort their spines in unnatural ways, and considering that they do this day after day, year after year, the damage to their bodies – and resulting pain and stress – is massive.
But it can easily be avoided by taking these steps:
- Keep your monitor about arm’s length from your body, around 20-40 inches away. Position the monitor vertically so you can read it with your head and torso in a comfortable upright position.
- Pay attention to your body when viewing the monitor; are you slouching over to see it, or do you feel any strain in your back or neck? Many desktop monitors allow this up-down positioning. For those that don’t and for laptops, consider investing in an adjustable stand, or you can use books.
- Keep your monitor in front of you versus positioning it at angles in relation to where you are sitting. A rule of thumb: positioning your monitor no more than 35 degrees to the left or right of where you sit, and tilted no more than 10-20 degrees.
- Adjust your monitor’s brightness and contrast so it is as easy and comfortable to read as possible.
- Give your eyes frequent breaks by looking away from your monitor frequently.
- Keep your monitor clean of smudges and debris. And if you wear glasses, keep them clean, too. Debris force your eyes to strain harder over time, and that can add up to unnecessary stress on your back, neck… and brain!
4) Get Plenty of Exercise Away from the Office
You’ve heard how important exercise is for other reasons before… and it holds true here, too.
Pain comes from muscle imbalances, so remaining idle does nothing to correct any existing problems, and instead greatly exacerbates them. So get active!
It is particularly important to build your “core” strength. Your core are the muscles at the center of your body, such as your abdominals and lower back muscles. Strengthening these muscles is one of the most powerful ways to avoid neck and back pain at work no matter what type of work you do.
And if it feels like there is not enough time outside of work to get the proper exercises… OR if staying motivated in doing so is an issue for you … let me conclude with more great news:
When you head to LosetheBackPain.com and visit the “Products” link, you will find a top-rated exercise program called The No Excuses Workout. This program requires just 4 minutes per day to get the exercise you need to strengthen your body, including your core, entirely… so that you can avoid pain and stress at work and in all areas of your life.
For far more recommendations on how to overcome and prevent pain… and stress and chronic diseases of all sorts… visit LosetheBackPain.com today.
Most importantly, subscribe to our free newsletter, which provides you cutting-edge insights and practical steps you can take to stop pain, restore your peak health, be more productive, and enjoy life more!
[Ed. Note. Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT, is the Co-Founder of The Healthy Back Institute and author of the "The 7-Day Back Cure". Jesse has also written a special article on the 5 worst pain medications – read more here.]