How to avoid back problems at work

Good Health Magazine
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Health handbook: back health
Brought to you by Good Health magazine

Chances are if you haven’t already experienced a ‘bad back’ you will eventually. It’s been estimated that eight out of 10 of us will suffer from backache at some point in our lives.

Using the computer

How you use your computer can be a major cause of back, neck and shoulder pain. The following tips will help you prevent problems:

  • Always sit in a good-quality, adjustable and comfortable office chair. Pull your chair close to the desk and adjust the seat height so that your elbows, hips and knees are bent at about 90 degrees. Your forearms should be parallel to or sloping down toward the desktop. Your feet should rest flat on the floor – use a footrest if necessary.
  • Adjust the chair's backrest to support the curve in your lower back and to help keep you upright when typing. Relax your shoulders.
  • Sit up straight and position your computer screen at a comfortable viewing distance, generally at arm’s length. Keep the top of the screen below eye level and directly in front of you.
  • Don’t work from documents flat on the desk. Instead, use a document holder set close to the screen at the same distance from your eyes.
  • Ensure your screen is easy to see. Eliminate reflections and adjust the brightness control to suit.
  • Don’t use a notebook computer for extended periods. If you must, then check the top of the screen is below eye level, and plug in a mouse and a normal-size keyboard.
  • Limit continuous computer use and take a break every 30 minutes to do some neck, wrist and shoulder stretches. Get up and walk around every hour. Change your tasks regularly to alter the load on your body.
  • Learn to touch type so you don’t have to bend your head forward searching for the keys. Alternate between mouse and keyboard by varying your inputting tasks. Learn the function keys and short cuts to reduce the amount of mouse use.
  • Maintain your general fitness. Keep yourself strong, active and flexible. Manage the stresses of work and study with a balance of exercise, relaxation and other stress management approaches.
    • Good Health magazine

      For more tips on how to prevent problems and keep your back in good working order pick up the December issue of New Zealand Good Health magazine at

User comments
try having a broken back and have a job cleaning motels, heavy lifting, getting down on your hands & knees, easy to sit at a desk and type but for people with a bad back doing a heavy job dutys & having to rely on pain killers every day to over come the pain.
Why is so much of this stuff concerning jobs about office workers, Oh I forgot you people are office workers are'nt you.

Getty imagesWays to protect your heart Allergy season has officially begun. (Thinkstock)Natural ways to beat hayfever Hey, fever: what is hayfever? How to avoid health niggles

Ask our experts

Should I continue my affair with a married man? Our answer SEX & RELATIONSHIPS EXPERT Dr Gabrielle Morrissey

What's your BMI?


Body Mass Index Measure your BMI >>Find out if your body is in the healthy body mass index range. Calorie CounterCalorie CounterKeep track of your daily dietary intake. Burn BarometerBurn BarometerHow much exercise should you be doing?