Computer Back Pain
Computer Back Pain
A neglected but oftentimes worrisome office-related injury is computer back pain. Many do not realize it but sitting for extended periods in-front of a computer can significantly increase the risk for back problems. If left untreated, the condition could worsen resulting in more serious conditions including a herniated disc which could lead to surgery. For this reason, those working in a corporate environment must do what they can to safeguard themselves from the risk of computer back pain.
The typical office worker spends long periods doing work on their computer. This condition can be aggravated by a number of factors that are oftentimes overlooked and remain unnoticed until it is too late:
1. Poor posture increases the risk for computer back pain faster than any other factor known to doctors. Bad posture does not allow the uniform distribution of mechanical load and puts stress on the spine. As a result, some bones and muscles carry more weight than others. Over time, the extra load causes mechanical problems to the back bone eventually resulting in computer back pain.
2. Tight deadlines force many corporate workers to hunker down and finish reports and many other forms of paperwork. This compromises one’s ability to do micro-stretching exercises that could relieve the tension in the back and muscles. A corporate office worker with a regular stretch routine is less likely to develop computer back pain than another who continually hacks away at the keyboard for long periods without doing anything to relieve the stress.
3. Another unnoticed consequence of stress is that the body is more likely to be fatigued than if one were refreshed and well-rested. Stress causes the body to release a variety of chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol. These chemicals keep the body alert but also speed up various metabolic processes that lead to the accumulation of wastes. The waste inhibits the body’s ability to regulate itself and a key manifestation of this is what is called a “muscle knot.” The muscle tightens, hardens, and before they know it, the individual is suffering from computer back pain.
It is very important to adopt a healthy routine when you are in an office setting. At the top of the list is a micro-break or stretching routine. Flexing the back dissipates the built-in tension and resets it so that you can continue working. Another way to do this is to check your water intake and bathroom routines. Standing up from your desk and walking around, even for just a few minutes, helps prevent computer back pain in much the same way as stretching routines do.
Another important development in office behavior is the increasing emphasis for ergonomics. This consists of guidelines relating to posture and the type and positioning of office tools that one uses while working. Improperly positioned work tools such as too high or too low computer monitors enhances additional strain on the back resulting to more severe and early onset computer back pain.
Check with your office safety group if there is a program on ergonomics that has been implemented. Ergonomics programs take care of many of the prime causes of computer back problems. By sticking to these guidelines, using the proper tools, learning correct office posture, and following recommended stretching and micro-break routines, one can continue being a productive worker without having to go through the nasty spell of suffering from computer back pain.