Back Care

Are You Taking Care of Your Back? - page header


Sitting places significant stress on the low back.
The muscles, tendons and ligaments can become stretched, and the discs may have significant pressure on them.  It is critical that you do all you can to lessen this stress, and to maintain good back health.  Here's how:

Sit with your chair positioned so that you have your thighs parallel to the floor.  Sitting too high will flatten your natural lumbar curve and place unnecessary pressure on the discs in your low back.

Slouching forward stresses the soft tissue in your low back, and places extra pressure on the discs.  Try to sit relatively upright in a relaxed posture.

Use of a footrest often will help you to maintain good posture.
It naturally encourages you to sit against the backrest of the chair. The footrest can also help you to adjust your posture if your chair does not go low enough to allow your thighs to be parallel to the floor.

Use the armrests on your chair to support your arms where possible to reduce stress on your back and shoulders.

When sitting at an appropriate height, you should work with your forearms parallel to the floor.  To measure the correct work surface height for you, set your chair height appropriately, position your elbow at 90 degrees with your forearm parallel to the floor and your hand palm down.  Ask a colleague to measure the distance from the floor to the side of your hand.  This is a good writing surface height.  (Your work surface may be too high. Typically surfaces are set at 29", but persons under 6 feet tall who do not wear high heels usually need it lower.)


Your keyboard should be set about 1" lower than the work surface because you are striking the top of the keys, which are higher than the surface.  If you have an adjustable keyboard surface, set it so that the tops of the keys are at the same height as the work surface.

Taking brief stretch breaks is critical for your back.  Just standing briefly relieves stress on your back, and walking allows for increased blood flow, which heals minor soft tissue damage.  A short walk to the printer or fax machine is very helpful!

Performing some light stretching exercises at your desk can also help ease the stress.

For more information, contact Amy Hayes
at the DLEG Rehabilitation Services Accommodation Center
@ (517) 285-2412.

Relief for computer related strain
Self-Care for Low Back Pain
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