The London Spine Clinic found that most study participants admitted sitting for most of their waking day.

The study also found that of those reporting back pain, 70% have lived with recurring back pain for more than a decade and 30% of those with recurring or chronic pain had to take time off work last year (2014). That’s a total of nearly ten million sick days taken in the UK directly related to back pain last year and the number is expected to rise this year. But according to the British Chiropractic Association, 40% of those with recurring back pain do nothing to treat, protect or improve their backs at work or at home.

How can you prevent or improve your back pain?

The British Chiropractic Association makes the following suggestions about improving or preventing back problems at work:

  • Sit up straight. Relax when sitting into your chair, make sure you have your buttocks against the seat back with your shoulder blades touching the back rest of the chair. Your seat should be adjusted so that your feet are flat on the floor, your knees slightly bent, but with a slight slope from your hips to your knees. You should end up with your hips higher than your knees and your eyes level with the top of the computer screen. Your arms should be flat and your elbows level with the desk or table that you are using. If at all possible, use a chair with arm rests. Ensure that your computer screen is at eye level to avoid neck strain which also leads to back pain. Encourage your employer to provide an ergonomic office chair with substantial lumbar support.
  • Take breaks every 30 minutes. Do not sit for prolonged periods of time. Take regular breaks. Participating in simple activities such as stretching and shoulder shrugging can also help to keep your back in line. When you do take a break, walk around and stretch a little, do something completely different from the tasks at your desk. Don’t continue to work on your computer during your break, get up and get moving.
  • Walk every day. Walking is recommended to counter back pain because it puts less strain on the joints than other types of exercise and maintains bone density. Adding a few minutes to daily routines, like taking the stairs instead the lift, could provide some relief.
  • Leg room. Remove any obstacles from under your desk to ensure you have enough leg room. Improving your posture and taking regular breaks can help avoid low back stiffness and pain. When in the office, remember that there is no substitute for proper posture, regular movement and physical activity like walking or stair climbing.