Effective Ways to Manage Back Pain in the Office


Do you get back pain sitting at your desk or doing anything that involves bending or lifting?  Due to busy lifestyles and our increasing reliance on computers we are sitting for more time than ever before!  80% of people experience back pain in their lifetime.  40% will have back pain in any one year.

Back pain is extremely variable between people depending on your individual lifestyle and stressors in your daily life.

The evidence says that appropriate individual physiotherapy intervention is effective for almost all people with back pain and/or nerve root pathology.  Our physiotherapists at Get Active Physiotherapy have taken post graduate courses to ensure we are up to date with the most recent evidence based practice to reduce your back pain.  We have a great relationship with many specialists so we can provide referrals when and if needed.

Simple backache >90%

Nerve Root Pathology <10%

Serious Spinal Pathology <2%


Risk factors

Previous history of lower back pain

Prolonged sitting and poor sitting posture

Heavy or frequent lifting, bending or twisting

Whole body vibration (driving)



If you have lower back pain do not do these exercises unless instructed to do so by your physiotherapist.

If you do not currently have lower back pain:

Back Stretch 1



Back Stretch 2



Keeping your back mobile and healthy in all directions will help reduce your frequency of lower back pain.  Use these “curve reversal” exercises regularly throughout the day and especially after any lifting or a prolonged sitting activity.   You can also do this in standing by supporting your lower back with your hands and bending backwards.  Keep your head looking forward so you don’t get dizzy or fall over.


Desk setup

Desk setup is one of the most neglected but easily changeable to help reduce back pain.   Follow these easy steps to help reduce your lower back pain:


Lumbar support:

Use a lumbar roll to support the natural curve in your lower back.  You will be able to sit back in your chair with your lumbar spine in a safe, supported position.  You should not be straining to sit bolt upright.

Desk Setup 1


Chair adjustments:

Your seat height should be adjusted to enable your feet to be able to rest flat on the floor.  If you have shorter legs you may need a foot rest to elevate your legs.  As a general rule your hips and knees should rest comfortably at 90°.

Adjust the depth of your backrest to ensure you do not have increased pressure behind the knees.

Desk Setup 2


Setting up your monitor:

Set up the monitor to minimise strain on your neck and back.  As a rule of thumb the top toolbar on most screens should be at eye level.  You may have to prop the monitor up on a few books to ensure the right height.  Make sure the monitor is not too far away from you.  Aim for approximately an arm length away.



The keyboard should be at the same height as your forearms.  Your forearms should be supported and your wrists kept straight.  Aim to keep the mouse as close to the keyboard as possible so you do not create tension and strain your neck.

If you have back pain or have any of the above risk factors book in for our free assessment with one of our physio’s today!  Make you mention this article.


Written by: Sarah Brown (Physiotherapist) at Get Active Physiotherapy



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