Office Ergonomics for Lower Back Pain

Office Ergonomics for Lower Back Pain

A sedentary lifestyle exacerbates back pain. If your job requires prolonged periods of sitting, proper posture and ergonomic chairs can diminish pain.


To minimize strain on your back

  1. Avoid slouching. Move your hips to the back of your chair. Lengthen your spine against the backrest, accentuating your back’s natural curvature. Relax your shoulders. Slouching and rounding your back places unnecessary pressure on your joints, muscles, and ligaments. Recline your chair slightly to decrease the stress on your lower back.

  2. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Bend your knees at a 90-degree angle, so your thighs are parallel with the ground. Keep your legs uncrossed to avoid restricting blood flow. Try to evenly distribute the majority of your weight to your hips.

  3. Adjust your armrests. Ensure your wrists are parallel or slightly below your elbows. Keep your wrists straight.

  4. Adjust the height of your monitor. Adjust the height of your monitor so the top of the screen is at eye level. Your head should stay in line with your shoulders. If you use a laptop, elevate your computer to avoid injuring your neck. You may have to purchase an external keyboard.

Every 30 minutes, stretch or take a walk. When you return from your break, sit in a different position to improve circulation and shift pressure to different parts of the body.

Chair Ergonomics

The prioritized key features of an ergonomic chair

  1. Lumbar support. Choose a chair that emulates the curvature of your back. Your lower back naturally arcs inward, and a chair that mimics this curve will minimize the strain on your spine and support proper posture.

  2. Adjustable height. Seat height is contingent on your proportions. When sitting, your knees should be parallel with your hips and your feet should be flat on the ground. You may need to make adjustments depending on your desk’s height so your shoulders stay relaxed.

  3. Seat depth. When leaning against the backrest, the back of your knees should not touch the edge of the seat. A seat with this depth permits proper use of lumbar support and negates unnecessary pressure on nerves and tendons.

  4. Adjustable armrests. The ideal height of your armrests depends on the height of your desk. When your forearms are on the armrests, your shoulders should be relaxed and your wrists should be parallel or below your elbows. When properly used, armrests can decrease stress on your back and shoulders.

  5. Tilt. Depending on the cause of your back pain, you might find certain angles of inclination more comfortable than others. If you can adjust the tilt of your chair, you can find which angle is best for you. Furthermore, it is helpful to alternate positions throughout the day.

  6. Five contact points. Five chair legs are ideal for stabilization and even distribution of weight.

  7. Other features to consider. Some people find headrests and footrests beneficial for additional support. Footrests can help if you are unable to keep your feet flat on the ground. Headrests can promote proper neck posture.

Not looking to buy?

As noted in the list above, the most important characteristic of an ergonomic chair is the lumbar support. Add a small pillow or rolled towel to your current chair to provide back support. The thickness should correspond to the natural curvature of your spine.