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February safety tip: preventing back pain

Prevent back pain at the office.

Sitting in an office chair for long periods of time can cause back pain or worsen an existing back problem. Below you will find tips and pointers about adjusting your posture and work station habits to prevent work-related back pain.

  • Align your head and neck right above your shoulders; avoid straining forward.
  • Place your mouse right next to your keyboard so you don't overreach or twist your shoulder, arm, or wrist when clicking.
  • Adjust your chair to allow your lower back to rest against a lumbar support.
  • Sit so your torso is only about an arm's length away from the monitor, which should be two to three inches above eye level.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor and shoulder-width apart to reduce tension in your knees and ankles.
  • Position your knees at 90 degrees, directly over your ankles; this will keep your spine comfortably upright.
  • Roll and stretch your shoulders frequently, and keep them square over your hips.
  • Don't sit with your legs crossed as it makes it difficult to keep your spine straight and shoulders squared. 
  • Don't pin your phone between your shoulder and ear while you multitask -it's hard on your neck. Use a headset or speakerphone for any conversation that lasts more than five minutes.
  • Take a short break, stand, and move around at least once an hour.  This can reduce pressure on spinal disks and boost circulation.

For more information, read this interactive step-by-step ergonomic guide on chair adjustment and workstation layout, including the best placement for your keyboard, mouse, monitor and documents.