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How to Ergonomically Optimize your Office Space to Avoid Back Pain

Low back discomfort/sprain/strain is a common symptom following a motor vehicle accident, especially when hit from behind. The most common diagnosis after a rear-end accident that affects both the neck and the back is a Whiplash, which is caused when the body is thrown forward suddenly.

The severity of an individual’s back pain can vary from minor to severe, depending on the type of injury, severity of the impact and pre-existing conditions. Many individuals begin a physiotherapy program to strengthen their back muscles when suffering back pain.

It is important after a minor back injury to continue to participate in your everyday activities as much as you can as opposed to relaxing by lying down. It may be necessary to ergonomically correct your office space and computer station in order to avoid further discomfort.

Here are some tips to remember when adjusting your work station:

1.Utilize a proper chair and maintain a healthy posture: consider an ergonomic office chair that offers arms rests, an adjustable seat height, adjustable backrest height and lumbar support. You want to ensure that the listed features provide you with a posture that is upright, keeping your spine in its naturally slightly curved position. Without these features, our spine tends to slouch, which may aggravate back pain further. As well, make sure your chair is adjusted so that your feet are flat on the floor or resting on a low foot rest.

2. Ensure that your keyboard and monitor are at the proper height. Your monitor should be slightly below (30°) eye level to avoid neck strain and a further slouched posture. A simple laptop stand or hard covered book may be enough to raise your monitor to the appropriate height. A keyboard shelf may be needed to provide a proper 90 degree bend at the elbow when typing.

3. Keep frequently used objects, such as a telephone, stapler or printed materials close to your body to avoid excessive reaching and stretching.

4. Take a break every 30 minutes to stretch and go for a short walk. If you forget, set an alarm for every 30 minutes to remind you to take this break.

5. Consider further accessories such as a wrist rest for the mouse and keyboard, document holder, or headset to avoid further straining movements or cordless devices.

These are just a few tips to remember to help you reduce back strain at the office. An Occupational Therapist can further assist you with making recommendations at your workstation based on your type of injury.

To learn more about ergonomic office spaces and OT at GLA, please contact us. We would be happy to provide you with more information.