How to Protect Your Back When Sitting at Your Desk All Day

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Even when you’re working from home, you’ve got to put in plenty of hours in front of the computer, which typically means sitting at your desk. And, no matter how comfortable your workspace is, sitting in a chair for so long can cause pressure to build up on your spinal discs, resulting in lower back pain. Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to protect your back when sitting down all day.

Woman sitting at desk working from home
Photo by Marek Levak

How to Protect Your Back When Sitting at Your Desk All Day

There are a number of things you can do to alleviate and prevent the pressure and make things easier on your lower back, like using one of these cruelty-free desk chairs with lumbar support. Here are some more ways to protect your back when sitting in your computer chair for prolonged periods of time.

Take Plenty of Breaks

This probably seems like a no-brainer, but some of us still get so wrapped up in our work that we may forget to stand up and take a break. When you’re sitting for extended time periods, make sure you’re frequently standing up and taking short breaks on your feet. The pros at the University of Rochester Medical Center recommend doing this at least twice per hour.

Pay Attention to Your Posture

It can be easy to cross your legs and lean into your desk by habit when you’re hard at work, but try to resist that temptation as much as possible. Keep both feet flat on the floor and your eyes level with the center of your computer screen. Sitting up as straight as possible will help keep the pressure off of your lower back.

Alternate Between Sitting and Standing

If you’ve got way too much work to do to take breaks and walk away from your computer a couple of times per hour, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your back is doomed. With an adjustable desk like this one, you can lift it to create a standing workstation in a matter of seconds. And, when you’re over it, you can slide it back down. If you don’t have access to a standing desk, grab your laptop and head to a tall counter where you can comfortably stand and work for a while.

Invest in a Back-Friendly Computer Chair

If you’re going to be spending a lot of time in your office chair, it should be one that properly supports your back and helps you alleviate pressure so you don’t end up in pain at the end of the day. Using an ergonomic computer chair designed with lumbar support in mind can keep the pressure off and prevent pain.

Use a Pillow for Extra Support

You may be waiting for your new chair to arrive, or you may be collecting the funds to splurge on your new chair. Either way, there’s still something you can do to make the one you have now a bit easier on your body. Use a small throw pillow or a rolled-up towel, and place it between your lower back and the chair to create some lumbar support.

Get Moving

You’ve likely heard the horror stories about sitting being “the new smoking,” and that sitting down for too long means shaving time off of your life. Well, the whole smoking thing may not be true, but the good news is, working out for just 30 minutes per day can combat the negative effects of sitting and reduce the risk of early death by nearly 17%. If you’ve got a dog, take them for a couple of 15-minute walks around the neighborhood throughout the day. If you don’t have a dog, or you don’t feel like going outside, try a quick and easy workout on YouTube instead!

Leslie Sansone 1 Mile Happy Walk

Be Sure to Stretch

As important as it is to get up and move around, it’s just as much so to stretch your back out. Sitting down for too long can cause the discs in your spine to compress, which leads to lower back pain. You can avoid stiffness by stretching regularly, both while sitting at your computer and standing up. There are plenty of stretches designed to help you stretch while seated at your desk. But you should also take at least a few minutes each morning and evening to do some more intense back stretching.

Become a Yogi

You don’t need to run off and take a class or anything quite yet. Well, not unless you want to since there are some pretty cool yoga classes being offered these days. Virtual yoga classes are the natural choice for those of us who prefer working out at home. Keeping a yoga ball desk chair and switching it out with your regular computer chair a couple of times per day can do wonders for your core.

how to protect your back when sitting for long periods of time: woman doing yoga pose.
Photo by Jake Noren on Unsplash

Not only will sitting on the yoga ball increase your core strength, but it will force you to sit straight up and keep pressure off of the lowers pine. And, if you really do like yoga, make sure you’re practicing the child’s pose, which feels incredible on the lower back.

(Properly) Use Your Armrests

Using a desk chair with fully adjustable armrests can really help to alleviate pressure in your back. Although, if you don’t use them correctly, they can also make matters worse. When you’re typing, your shoulders should be supporting your elbows and arms. That means that you don’t want your elbows resting on your armrests while you type. When you’re not typing, however, they’re great for giving your shoulders a much-needed break.

Kick Your Feet Up

If you find it hard, uncomfortable, or both, to keep your feet flat on the floor, try using a footrest. Doing so encourages active sitting, improves circulation in your legs and feet, and helps prevent pain.

How to Protect Your Back When Sitting in the Home Office All Day

The more aware you are of your body throughout the day will help you to protect your back from the negative effects of sitting down for long periods of time. The kind of seat you’re using, your posture while seated, and how frequently you’re getting up and moving around to take a break are all things to take into consideration when thinking about how to protect your back while working. If you are spending a lot of time in your home office, make sure you’re using some good ergonomic furniture and equipment!

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Erika Sellmer is a digital content specialist with a passion for remote work and empathic design.