IS YOUR JOB PUTTING YOUR SPINE AT RISK?
Domlur, Bengaluru Feb 9, 2017
The spinal column consists of bones called vertebrae that protect a bundle of nerves and the spinal cord. Separated by gelatinous cushions called discs, the vertebrae stretch from the cervical or neck region to the base of the spine, called the lumbar area. Various conditions, injuries and repetitive stress can damage these delicate structures, including sitting in a chair working on a computer for several hours a day. Back pain from computer use is related to a number of internal and external factors.
Most of these factors are modifiable, like the type of work, duration of work, the layout of the workstation, the posture adopted for said work etc.
Here are few common causes for backache in IT workers, and what can be done at the workplace and outside of it to tackle backache effectively.
Fix Your Workstation
Being comfortable at the workstation is important. A squashed cubicle, with poor lighting can cause one to hunch and lean forward to peer at the screen, affecting the shoulders, and the back.
Make sure the workstation is well-lit. Adjust the table and chair to a comfortable height. A simple rule to follow is that the chair is at the right height so that both feet can rest on the ground flat. If they can, then the feet are bearing the body weight too, instead of just the spine bearing all the weight. Choose a chair that supports the back. Adjust the chair so that the feet stay flat on the floor. If the chair doesn’t support the lower back’s curve, place a rolled towel or small pillow behind the lower back. Remove anything from the back pockets, especially a wallet, when seated for long periods of time because this puts the spine out of alignment.
Adopt a good posture – the importance of a good posture cannot be emphasized enough. A few pointers to adopt a good posture are:
- Keep the back straight, with the head level between the shoulders. Maintaining the back straight is important, as the discs in between the vertebra get compressed unevenly on leaning forward, putting them at increased risk of damage.
- Make sure that both the feet are flat on the ground.
- Keep reading material at eye level, to avoid bending the neck or back either way, to read comfortably.
Moving Around the Office
Staying in the same position for too long can adversely affect the back. Take regular breaks, get up, stretch, move about, get a glass of water, whatever it takes. Take such regular breaks every 20-30 minutes to avoid strain on the structures in the back. Standing and leaning back with the hands behind the small of the back can help to improve spine flexibility and prevent pain while working at the computer.
Give a Shot to Exercise or Yoga
Exercise or yoga to strengthen back muscles, and reduce the strain on the spine, can be of immense benefit. See a physical therapist to learn some simple back strengthening/core strengthening exercises that can be done over the course of a few minutes to prevent/decrease backache.
Yoga also strengthens back muscles, improves posture and flexibility, decreasing the probability of the onset of backache.
Try to find an instructor, or join a class or a workshop, to do away with backache. Joining a class or a workshop is better, as the instructors can observe and correct movements immediately.
Immediate attention is required if any loss of bladder or bowel control occurs with the back pain. This is associated with a disc that’s pressing on nerves and the faster the pressure relieved, the faster the function returns.
Most back pain won’t radiate below the waist. If pain is felt in the thighs or knees, it is likely to be a disc herniation causing nerve compression. Seek medical attention to ensure there isn’t more serious damage.
If the back pain keeps coming back, see a medical professional. It may be the beginning of rupture of a disc or similar injury that could require treatment.
Seeking physiotherapy for back pain can be helpful. With Portea, once can avail physiotherapy at home. Watch how Physiotherapy helped office goer Mr. Mahesh Kundu get back to normal active life.