Globally, back pain is the second most common cause of missing work (only after common cold). It accounts for more than 5 billion in health care cost and more than 93 million lost workdays each year. Today, one out of every 4 women suffers from back pain, and research tells us that eight out of every ten petite women will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Of course the most obvious and common reason for back pain in petites is that they tend to wear heels at work (in an effort to avoid being seen as childlike), more than their taller colleagues, who are happy to wear flats in the workplace.
“Petite women who work in offices are more likely to experience back pain compared to their counterparts in more physically demanding jobs.” The report also claims that the way a petite woman positions her body at work is a huge contributor to neck and back pain. It quotes the following as the top 3 causes of back pain in petite women:
Desk heights being above elbow height when sat down, as desks are typically designed for taller people.
Slouching forward while on your chair due to having a shorter torso.
Staying stationary for long during work hours with legs not reaching the floor.
Luckily, the report did not only explain the 3 major causes of back pain in petite women, it suggested you apply the following tips to fight work-related back pain. Here are some helpful tips.
Customize Your Chair and Desk
Leaning forward for long hours while at work puts strain on your neck and shoulders. Dr. Erick Peper, a doctor at San Francisco State University, recommends that petite women utilize the following tips to help them naturally lean back during work;
1. Opt for office chairs with lumbar support and a natural forward curve around the belly button level. If you don’t have one, you can put a rolled up towel or a pillow behind your back to attain this posture.
2. Personalize the height of your Chair such that you can naturally rest your feet on the ground at 90-degree angle. If your feet don't reach the floor, you can rest them on a prop such as a phone book or footrest.
3. Lower your arm rests, such that your arms rest at a 90 degree angle. This will trigger you to hold your shoulders low, and your upper back will greatly appreciate this.
4. Maintain your monitor an arm's length away so you can just about touch the screen, and keep it a little below your eye level. This will motivate you to sit back, instead of leaning forward. If you find you are squinting at your screen, regulate the lighting to minimize the strain on your eyes.
Get Up and Move
Humans are made to walk around. Sitting in one position during an 8 hours workday can easily wreak havoc on your body. Ideally;
• Take short breaks normally called micro breaks after every hour. Get a glass of water, visit the copy room, use the restroom, or simply stretch. Stretching for a mere 60 seconds is adequate to offset these negative impacts of sitting.
• If you have a sit-stand workstation, spend half of the time standing and half sitting.
Not only does this relieve back problems it also helps with the waistline and heart health according to research from Dr Genevieve Healy, of The University of Queensland.
Use a Kneeling Chair
Kneeling chairs are designed to facilitate better posture. They reduce stress on your back and increase comfort. The first time you use one, it may feel a little uncomfortable since it requires you to utilize muscles you don’t use when sitting on an ordinary chair. However, after one to two weeks, your body will get used to it and sitting on it will no longer be a problem. Here is how to use a kneeling chair to fight back pain;
1. Sit down on it as you do on a typical chair. If you feel the chair is uncomfortable, use the curved runners that allow you to adjust the chair to your comfort. Adjust till you feel that your back is well-balanced on your pelvis.
2. Place your knees on the shin/knee rest one at a time.
3. Manage your weight so that it lies on the actual seat cushion, not the kneeling cushion.
4. Rotate your sitting positions regularly. You may sit with both or one leg kneeling, and then lean forward, backward or however else you opt to. Moving your body often when sitting helps reduce stress. However, maintain an upright posture most of the times.
5. If you need to lean to write something, the kneeling chair will keep your posture by moving with your body. Its curved runners allow the chair lock forward while keeping your back straight.
In conclusion, the secret to fighting back pain in petite women lies in maintaining proper body posture at workplace. Follow our tips and you will see dramatic improvement.