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21 May 2012

How to Protect Your Back While Working at a Computer

If you start to think about how much time you spend sitting in front of the computer, you will probably feel guilty for reading the rest of this article as it will require even more of your time. By all means – get up and walk around a little bit. That is an easy way to take care of your back while sitting at a computer. So go ahead, go get a glass of water (properly hydrating will always contribute positively to pain management), but make sure to come back and read the rest to pick up some valuable tips:
  • Lumbar Support – Everyone's back is different, but everyone's back needs some sort of lumbar support. This does not require some sort of spongy pillow or an improvised, crumpled-up jacket. Actually, many people (including myself) prefer a hard, straight-backed chair, such as a dining room table chair. Next time you sit down for dinner, try to keep your lower back pressed flat against the back of the chair. Like chairs around the table, a computer chair's back inclines at a gradual angle away from you; engaging your abs and bracing your lower back flat against the base of the chair will make you sit straight – also useful for avoiding a chiding Mother at dinner.
  • Avoid Eyestrain Believe it – eyestrain will affect your back and here's how. Tension developed in the head and neck through ocular strain will cause your shoulders to tense up. Most people also have their hands extended towards the keyboard and mouse and rest their forearms on the desk in front of the keyboard. Basically, this is tension in the shoulder girdle, which attaches to the scapula and the back of the thoracic rib cage. This method of helping back pain already alluded to, but getting up or gazing out the window or at your office crush will contribute to a less painful back. 
  • Relax – You do not need me to tell you that working is stressful. Healthcare professionals conclude that stress has a measurable and real effect on your body's health. Make sure you do something to relax while working: a favorite Pandora station, listening to a random baseball game on, or making fun plans for after work always helps me to relax. 
  • Exercise – So, this one is not readily done while at the computer, although it is a great idea to move your legs around. Keeping your knees pent past 90 degrees for a long time can lead to back pain because the resulting knee pain will affect the way you walk. Straightening your legs out and flexing your feet at the ankle joint is a great way to keep your calves loose. Otherwise, you really need to have an exercise program in order to keep your back muscles strong. Abdominal exercises are great for keeping your back healthy, but make sure to strengthen your lower back and external oblique muscles just as much. For your upper back, exercises that involve rolling or pulling your shoulders back are great after extending your arms for so long towards the computer. Rowing machines and bent over rows (I suggest using a straight bar rather then an Olympic bar or dumbbells) are great for back strength. Know your limits though, and for those strong men out there, it’s a good rule of thumb to never lift over your body weight – even when deadlifting. Avoid injury at all costs.

About Dr Kevin Lau

Dr Kevin Lau DC is the founder of Health In Your Hands, a series of tools for Scoliosis prevention and treatment. The set includes his book Your Plan for Natural Scoliosis Prevention and Treatment, a companion Scoliosis Exercises for Prevention and Correction DVD and the innovative new iPhone application ScolioTrack. Dr Kevin Lau is a graduate in Doctor of Chiropractic from RMIT University in Melbourne Australia and Masters in Holistic Nutrition. He is a member of International Society On Scoliosis Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Treatment (SOSORT), the leading international society on conservative treatment of spinal deformities. In 2006 I was awarded the "Best Health-care Provider Awards" by the largest Newspaper publication in Singapore on October 18 2006 as well as being interviewed on Primetime Channel News Asia as well as other TV and Radio. For more information on Dr Kevin Lau, watch his interviews or get a free sneak peek of his book, go to:


Jack Cruz said...

I always face computer in the job and even at home and for some reasons I also experience lower back pain and I hate it much because it stops my productivity. Anyways, I had a great time reading this post and I'm sure this will help us a lot.

Roger Soh said...

Thank you for share this useful tips.
It is handy for us as I have work long hour infront of computer sometime editing overnight.
Regular chiropractic adjustment also help to relive my aching back.