How to reduce back pain at work – for sedentary workers

So you want to know how to reduce back pain at work.  This article is for you if you spend more than 50% of your working day at a desk. It’s not for you if you dig the roads for a living, or stand most of the time, or work in manual labour – sorry.  Back problems at work are incredibly common, and lower back pain at work is one of the leading causes of lost productivity.

What causes back pain at work?

If you sit for more than half your working day, and you have lower back pain or sciatica, guess what?  Sitting is probably a BIG part of your problem. Especially if you feel your pain worse while you’re sitting.  Or when you get up from sitting.  If your pain has no relationship with sitting, you might be better to read this article on the quickest way to fix my back pain.  .

Staying still is bad for back pain

If you exert a load on your back for a prolonged period it will fatigue.  Eventually the tissue starts to protest.  You experience this as pain.

Doing the same thing at work is bad for back pain

Repeating the same activity (sitting) exerts a repetitive load on your back.  Eventually the muscles, ligaments, discs will fatigue.  Now you will also experience pain.

Stress is bad for back pain

It turns out that work-related stress is a huge factor.  To understand how this works, it helps if you understand how pain works.  Basically, pain is a warning system.  So anything that increases your state of alarm tends to increase your back pain at work.  Bummer, eh?

How to reduce back pain at work

Some of this will be obvious, given the above…

Move more often

Get up and move around.  Do some exercises.

Vary your seated posture

There is no such thing as a perfect seated posture. Any position you stay in for long can lead to back pain.  So have at least 2 seated positions you can use.

Fidget while you sit

Don’t feel you have to sit still.  I frequently wobble while I sit and type.


Anything that reduces your state of alarm is likely to help reduce your pain.  Maybe get a new boss? 😉

Get help from a specialist back pain clinic

As osteopaths in Edinburgh, we’ve been reducing back pain at work for nearly 30 years.  We do this through treatment, workshops, clinical ergonomic advice, talks, and the huge amount of back pain related content we produce. And of course through our book on low back pain, the Active X Backs book.

BUT if you want to go for self-help for low back pain / sciatica click the button below!

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