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Does your back hurt at work?

If you answered YES, it could be the way you sit at your desk and the way your work station is set up.

With the majority of people sitting down in an office for a living it is essential to minimize the stress on the body. The human spine is not designed to sit for long periods so……………………


Chair Angle Set Up

There is a strong relationship between the position in which a chair is set up at work and back and neck pain.

The graph demonstrates pressure in the low back as a result of different sitting positions.
Slumping forward dramatically increases the spinal pressure in turn leading to spinal pain and potential disc problems.

Ideally, set the angle between the base of the chair and the back of the chair between 100 and 110 degrees. This, in practise, is just past upright (backward) with the chair base horizontal/flat.

Some chairs have a tilt function allowing the whole seat to tip forward and back. The same principle applies, set the angle of the chair seat first (100 – 110 degrees) and then whatever angle you tilt the chair the spine is still held in its optimal position.

The Slump

We are all guilty of a bit of slumping now and again! Long term slumping at your desk though has a profound effect on the low back and neck.

As seen from the graph slumping forward markedly increases the pressure in the low back. It also forces the spinal muscles to contract holding your slumped position and preventing you from falling forward.

This type of muscular contraction is called Isometric contraction and in time will cause the spinal muscles to shorten and stiffen. This muscular shortening and stiffening further increases pressure on the spine often leading to stiff sections of spine, commonly causing low back stiffness in the morning and back pain in the afternoon.

Aim to sit back in your chair and feel a definite pressure between your back and the chair.
The pressure should be even and ideally extend up to your mid back, or below your shoulder blades.

Sitting in a well-angled chair and leaning back into the chair will allow the back muscles to relax and reduce spinal pressure.

Don’t forget Common sense!

With the average person sitting at their desk for 6 hours it is essential that, as well as having a good chair position that you regularly get up and have a stretch. Take the pressure off your spine with a break every half an hour, use the stairs where possible and go for that lunchtime walk.

At Queen Charlotte Street Clinic we offer a free service to come and assess your work station in your own office. If you would like to use this service please ring the clinic on 0117 9227788

Bristol Osteopaths