Back Pain At Work: What Can I Do About It?

Back pain at work
Back pain at work

Are you one of the 65 million people in America who suffer from back pain?

You’re here because you’re suffering and you need pain relief and you are not alone. 

Staggeringly up to 80% of Americans will have some form of back pain during their lifetime.

In fact, back pain in the USA is one of the leading causes of days off work. 

Close to 83 million days of work are lost per year due to back pain. Chronic Back Pain | Health Policy Institute | Georgetown University

But no one seems to do anything about it. Why?

People hope that painkillers will be a quick fix for your problems, this may be the case for the short term but they never solve the problem. 

Of course painkillers can be used in moderation but you need to get to the root of what is causing the issue. 

Once you realize what might be causing the problem then you can tackle it head on, it’s often something a lot simpler than what you think. 

What you may not realize is it can be the little things in your daily routine that can cause your back pain. 

Poor posture, bad diet, lack of exercise, incorrect lifting techniques and poorly designed work spaces are just a few things that can be causing your back pain at work.

Don’t just assume the pain will go away, or assume you need to do something major.

Often just stretching a little and increasing your movement can improve your pain. 

Your back isn’t meant to be stationary all day, it wants to do its job and move around. 

Don’t just ignore your pain, read these tips and hopefully it will start your road to recovery. 

More Blogs From Intecore:
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How Physical Therapy Can Help You Pre- & Post-Surgery
How Can I Reduce Discomfort After An Operation?

What Is Causing Your Back Pain At Work?

Businesswoman Having Backpain

Unfortunately, most jobs these days can cause a whole host of problems with your back. 

Particularly if you are not careful or are unaware of the tension you are constantly putting on your back. 

Most working days are at least 8 hours, so think about that. 

For 8 hours a day, 5 days a week you’re putting your back through unnecessary pain and discomfort. 

There’s no wonder so back pain is the cause of so many working days being lost in the country. 

The chances are that if you’re sitting at a desk all day, driving or doing manual labor that you’ll end up with back pain at some point in your working life. 

Those three aspects pretty much cover all jobs within the USA so you need to make sure you’re looking after your back to prevent any sort of discomfort. 

Office Jobs

If you sit behind a desk all day or drive along the highway for a living you are probably no stranger to back pain. 

You may think that your back pain starts suddenly or comes out of nowhere without warning. 

This is usually not the case, if you take a minute to take in your surroundings you may notice that your work area is the root of your back pain. 

However, one of the main causes of back pain in people who work behind a desk is poor posture.

“Sit up straight” is something you’d hear your teacher yelling at you in school if you were slouching. 

Slouching may seem relaxing or just be your go to position after years of having poor posture. 

But this can have a detrimental effect on your back, one of the main areas that slouching affects is the spinal column which in turn can cause further problems across the body. Most notably neck and shoulder pain.  

It’s not just your posture that can be harming you in the office. 

Just take a look around at your current set up. The chances are it involves a lot of twisting and turning, your screen isn’t set to the optimal level and your chair isn’t giving you a lot of support. 

You shouldn’t need to strain or be twisting your neck to look at your monitor and type. 

If your desk layout isn’t set up in an ergonomic way you’re asking for trouble. 

Without realizing you can be putting your back under so much unnecessary strain for up to 40 hours a week every week, this needs to stop otherwise your back pain will never end. 

Manual Labor

manual labor causing back pain

Manual workers will put their bodies under a lot of strain and stress over the working week so injuries are likely to happen. 

Unlike office workers whose pain might happen overtime, people who do manual labor are more likely to suffer strains and tears due to excessive lifting and doing too much. 

The cause of back pain in many workers is simply putting too much force on your back.  

Yes it might get the job done quicker but is it really worth risking an injury?

Even more so it is amazing how many of the workforce don’t know how to lift heavy weights correctly. 

This is the cause of so many injuries and it is easily avoidable. 

Pride also comes into factor as well, you think you can lift something that is far too heavy for you. 

Again you need to ask yourself if it is worth it? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. 


Pain caused by driving seat

Delivery drivers, taxi drivers or long distance truck drivers will all experience some form of back pain during their careers. 

Sitting for such a long period of time on the roads isn’t good at all for your back. 

Driving has similar impacts to office work when it comes to your back, the main issue for drivers is poor posture. 

It is so important to correct your posture, driving in an unnatural position for long periods of time is putting your back through a lot of tension. 

With you being in that fixed position for so long it is going to start causing muscle strains and pulls within your back. 

Unfortunately the main part of the job is probably the worst thing for your back.

Your back doesn’t like being in a fixed position for an extended period of time. 

You can’t change that but you can try some of these tips below to try and alleviate some of your pain. 

How Can I Prevent Back Pain At Work?

It’s often the most simple things that can make the biggest difference when it comes to easing your back pain at work. 

Now you hopefully know what could be causing it, it’s time to try and solve the issue. 

Poor Posture

posture at work

If your job involves sitting for any length of time you need to be working with a good posture. 

Thankfully we already have a whole article dedicated to poor posture and how you can improve it so make sure you read it. 

In the meantime here’s a short and simple break down on how to improve your posture:

Sit with your shoulders back and back straight

Keep your feet flat on the floor or a footrest 

Keep a small gap between the back of the knees and chair

Place your ankles in front of the knees

This may help your posture but we would recommend speaking to a physical therapist who will be able to correct your posture. 

Yoga and Pilates are another great way to improve your posture.

Improving Your Desk Area

You spend the majority of your week at your workstation, you may have it looking neat and tidy but that’s worth nothing if it’s causing your back pain. 

You need to create an ergonomic workspace which essentially means a desk where everything is positioned to avoid any straining or injuries. 

Firstly you need to make sure you have a good quality chair that supports your back. 

This needs to be a chair with: adjustable height, backrest and armrests. It needs to have lumbar support, be able to swivel and have a comfortable padded material. 

Secondly you need to sort out your desk and the space around it. 

Everything on your desk needs to be within arm’s reach. 

Your monitor height needs to be adjusted so the top of the monitor is at your eye level. If you feel like you are leaning forward due to the brightness make sure you adjust it so you sit comfortably. 

Finally everything needs to be a comfortable and accessible height. You need to make sure you are aligned with the monitor and are at the correct height, your elbows should form a 75-90 degree angle when your hands are on the desk. 

Heavy Lifting And Repetitive Tasks 

Two young workers lifting heavy box in warehouse

These will often fall into workers from manual labor and drivers due to the nature of their jobs. 

Lifting heavy objects correctly and safely can limit your chances of any potential back injury. 

Make sure you bend your knees and use your leg muscles to support your body as you begin to stand up straight. 

You need to maintain the natural curve of your back, do not twist when lifting this is when injuries will happen. 

Don’t let pride cause injuries, if the object is too heavy don’t risk hurting yourself. 

One thing that can help your job is to change up the repetitive tasks you do whilst at work, this may be challenging depending on the nature of your job but if it is possible give it a go. 

For example try to use lifting devices when possible and change between the physically demanding tasks with ones that may not be so strenuous on the body. 


Much like sitting behind a desk you need to make sure that your body is comfortable and in the correct position whilst driving. 

You need to make sure your posture is correct in order to minimize injury. 

You’ll know yourself that if you slouch for a long time in the car whilst you get out of the car you’ll feel stiff and have pains around your back. 

To cut this out try to take regular breaks during your drive, this will make the journey longer but getting out of the car just to move your body a bit can help massively. 

Your back isn’t meant to be stationary for so long it wants to move. 

Exercise More Frequently 

running is good exercise

Now we’re not talking about going out and running marathons every week but just being a little more active can help your back so much. 

Unless advised otherwise sitting or lying around resting your back can make it worse, it wants you to move about. 

Yoga and Pilates are great for improving your back and just your overall well being. 

They are particularly useful when it comes to improving posture too so it’s helpful to you twice as much. 

Your back wants to be able to be flexible and move around and you should be trying to look after it. 

If you don’t fancy yoga or Pilates classes then just try to stretch more frequently during the day. 

Stretching daily can really improve the stiffness in your back and hopefully reduce some of the pain. 

While you’re at work don’t be afraid to have a little wander around your workplace, give yourself a little minute of rest and just get your body moving. 

Eating Healthier

We all could do with eating a little healthier now and then but it can really help ease your back pain. 

Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the daily stress your back is under significantly. 

Not only that but the bones and muscles in the spine need good solid nutrition to get them through the day. 

It doesn’t need to be huge changes but by adding a healthier diet into your life added with some regular exercise you may start to see improvements with your back pain. 

How we can help 

pt showing where back pain is

Back pain at work can almost be avoidable, at the very least you can give yourself the best opportunity to have a healthy back at work. 

What we have offered in this blog is quick fixes that may help fix your back pain or prevent you from getting further injuries. 

We want to get you back to your former self, we want to see you pain free. 

Don’t suffer for too long, if the pain is bothering you and you have exhausted all options get in touch. 

Here at Intecore Physical Therapy we have trained specialists waiting to help you and your bad back. 

We specialize in dealing with back pain so if you’d like to come and see us we should be able to get to the root of your problems.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch, you can find our contact details here and book a free 20 min discovery session with one of our physical therapists. 

Andrew Vertson