Is Poor Posture Causing Your Back Pain?

By Jason Heddington


Do you have an office job? Do you sit at your desk for up to 8 hours a day?

Do you suffer from back and neck pain?

Our backs were not designed to spend long periods of time sitting at desks – a common feature of many work environments.

Taking time off work with a bad back is common, but for many businesses such employee absence is a real problem. A government report this year into sickness absence in the labour market highlighted that more days were lost to back, neck and muscle pain than any other cause.

Musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders accounted for 30.6m working days off in 2013 and, according to the Department for Work and Pensions, were the cause of a third of long-term sickness absences between October 2010 and September 2013.

What problems can I get from sitting in a poor posture all day?

Spending six to eight hours a day in front of a computer can lead to shoulder, arm, hand and neck problems, as well as issues with balance and coordination.

If you slump in your chair you can develop tight muscles around your neck and upper chest, weak muscles in your back, tight muscles around your hips and knees. Also sitting for long periods will decondition your muscles, tendons and ligaments making you prone to injury.  A physiotherapist can do much to help these issues – but this must be in conjunction with ensuring the workstation is set up correctly and that regular breaks away from computer are taken. Otherwise, the issues may keep recurring.

What can I do to help prevent these problems occurring?

The good news is that postural issues can be corrected, and even, in most instances reversed.

  1. When in a working environment that requires a lot of desk and computer work, make sure your workstation equipment is ergonomically sound. Check that your desk, keyboard and computer screen is at the correct height and position.
  2. Ensure you have a comfortable chair that puts you in an ergonomically friendly positions making sure your knees, hips and elbows are at the correct angle. Your physiotherapist will be able to assess this and advice you on correct positioning.
  3. Finally, make sure you take regular breaks to stand up, walk around and stretch at least every 30 minutes, keeping yourself well hydrated with water.

What can help further…

We at Bristol Physio have teamed up with the guys at Gazelle Office Furniture Ltd. Based in Bristol, this national company offer office solutions to poor workstation positioning. Fully ergonomic chairs, manual and machine operated standing or sitting desks are among their wide range of furniture ideas. At Bristol Physio we have two specialist chairs and two standing desks. Do pop into their store in Lawrence Hill, Bristol or come into our Clifton branch to see the furniture in the flesh.

We also offer Work Station Assessments. One of our trained physiotherapists would visit you in your office environment, ask a number of questions not only about your work station but also lifestyle and take an assessment of the work space.We can advise on aids for your environment and give solutions to help you get the best position for you at the desk, as everyone is unique therefore a ‘one size fits all’ approach is neither appropriate or able to achieve in an office environment.