Avoiding Back Pain – How to Make Your Office Healthier to Work In

“Go into cubeland in a tightly controlled corporate environment and you immediately sense that there is a malaise about being tied behind a computer screen seated all day. The soul of the nation is sapped, and now it’s time for the soul of the nation to rise.”

Dr. Levine

You don’t need me to tell you that sitting around too much could give you a sore back or a spare tire. Added to this a day at the office can give you eye strain, sore shoulders, RSI and trigger points.

Indeed, sitting in front of a computer for hours is not that good an idea. Studies have shown though, that hours spent just sitting – in and of itself – could be a problem.

So how dangerous is sitting really?

Here’s a few background facts to shed some light on the situation that a lot of you with desk jobs are probably in:

  • A 2003-2004 U.S. survey, Americans spend over half of their time awake sitting
  • A 2006 study showed that men who spent six hours or more per day of their leisure time sitting had an overall death rate that was about 20 percent higher than the men who sat for three hours or less.
  •  In the same study, the death rate for women who sat for more than six hours a day was about 40 percent higher
  • Another study, published last year in the journal Circulation, looked at nearly 9,000 Australians and found that for each additional hour of television a person sat and watched per day, the risk of dying rose by 11 percent
  • 63.1% of adults in the U.S. were either overweight or obese in 2009

So, this is all rather worrying. It appears that hours spent sitting has a cumulative bad effect on hour health. The important question arises – what can we do about it?

Here are some simple changes you can do to your office to make it healthier place to be.  And these changes can also reduce risk of back pain and trigger points.

Office Ergonomics

The first thing to deal with is our chair-based lifestyle. There are a  couple of chair alternatives here – you may want to try a combination of both.

Option 1.

Don’t sit down! Get a standing desk ($200-$750) with an anti-fatigue comfort mat ($20-$40) to give your feet a little extra cushioning throughout the day.

Option 2

Get something to sit on that will continue to work  your core and stabiliser muscles. Sit on an Exercise ball ($40) instead of a conventional chair.

There’s several things this will do for you:

  • you won’t be able to slouch very easily
  • your balance and core muscle strength will improve
  • this reduces risk of lower back pain and injury.

To stop your exercise ball from rolling round the office, get a yoga ball base ($11). Added together, these two cost much less than a traditional office chair – and you get the benefits of daily core muscle strengthening.

Workstation Improvements

Keyboards are a huge cause of shoulder pain, neck pain, wrist, finger and hand pain. So an ergonomic keyboard is a sensible investment. Here’s a couple of different price ranges.

Kinesis Advantage Keyboard ($269)

Goldtouch Adjustable Keyboard ($95)

The mouse is another technological marvel that can cause a world of pain. Hours spent doing fine manipulations is not something we were really designed for.

An alternative is the Designer Appliances E Quill AirO2bic mouse ($90). It works quite differently from a conventional mouse, so it’s a good idea try one out first.

The stronger your muscles are, the less likely they are to get injured. So something which strengthens the muscles in your wrists, hand and arm is well worthing using.

So  use  Hand grippers ($20) for relieving stress and improving grip strength. A tennis ball or squeeze ball is a cheaper alternative. Another good idea is the Gyro Wrist Exercise Ball – used by climbers, typists, musicians and athletes to strengthen the wrist and hand muscles.

Leave a Comment:

(8) comments

Ditas May 10, 2012

I’d like to know what you think of Skechers Shape Ups — I bought some a year ago, and now, I don’t want to wear any other kind of shoe — or at least, any other kind of shoe sole. They help me stay longer on my feet and I don’t feel as tired as I do with other flat or low-heeled shoes, and I actually get a bit of a crick when I start to slouch, so I automatically adjust to more erect yet more relaxed posture. I’m thinking it’s something that can go with the stand-up desks, too (which I intend to try somehow…).

Paulette Martinez May 10, 2012

I have noticed over the last 8 months or so I have been experiencing tailbone coccyx pain and I can’t seem to make sense of it. I exercised regularly 3 times a week most weeks, sometimes i can take off a week, but for the most part. Anyhow, so, i’ve been to my chiropractor that I visit when something acts up, she can’t figure it. I’m not out of wack so what is it? I finally, realized this week, it’s my computer chair I sit in. Sometimes I am working on stuff for hours. Now, I would have never thought, a chair could cause so much tailbone pain. WOW, so, today, I will be looking around for another one to take this ones place.

Keep up the good work !!


Smita Kale May 10, 2012

That’s what exactly I wanted….thanks many times over
My best regards…

Jacqueline May 14, 2012

Great article, thanks. Please could you give references for the studies ? I work with children who spend all day in wheelchairs and want evidence ot support my efforts to get better access to swimming pools for them.

Jacqueline May 14, 2012

Sorry, I forgot tyo tick the notification box. Have a loveley day 🙂

Maureen September 26, 2012

Hi Joanathan,
Its so true,when I sit at my laptop for say half and hour,my lower back goes so sore,think I AM GOING TO GET A STAND FOR MY EXCERISE BALL,now I have read your topic,so having said that ,Iwill now come off my laptop.Thanks

Marcia April 10, 2014

If an exercise ball at work or home desk is not practical, you can get small balance disks to put on the seat of your chair. I have two of them for my workspaces, and they give just enough instability to keep my core muscles fired up while I sit. I got mine for less than $12 each.
I was alerted to the dangers of sitting by an article in the Washington Post. I’ve been retired for a couple years and have been writing and communicating via the internet, mostly on my sofa. No more!

Here’s a link to the article that changed my life:



[…] Try adapting your workspace for your body. Try not sitting – using a standing desk. […]

Add Your Reply

Leave a Comment: