Back Pain from Sitting at a Desk: Causes and Solutions

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Suffering from back pain and stiffness on your shoulders and neck after a long day at work? Back pain from sitting at a desk appears to be a common problem among many adults. In fact, in Canada, almost 80% of adults are expected to suffer from back pain at least once in their life. This has been a growing concern around the world during the past decade, brought about by the equally growing sedentary lifestyle that has become common in today’s technology-driven society.

woman working on computer

If you have started to experience back pain, it is important to address the problem right away to keep it from getting worse. Musculoskeletal conditions are among the most difficult to address because by the time afflicted individuals pay them attention, it is often too late. So, if you’re starting to experience the first signs of back pain from sitting at a desk for a long period of time, now is the best time to act and address the problem.

Causes of Back Pain and How to Solve the Problem

If you are suffering from back pain, check if any of the following may be causing the problem:

Poorly designed desk and chair

Are you still using a traditional desk with a fixed height? Is your office chair still working well, and are you able to adjust it properly? One of the most common causes of back pain at work is the use of office furniture that is not ergonomically designed (fixed desk) or furniture that is already damaged (broken office chair). Using these types of furniture forces the body to stay in an unnatural position for long hours, leading to numbness, pain, and discomfort—and the back is usually one of the first to suffer.

The solution: Replace damaged furniture and invest in those that are ergonomically designed

The most immediate solution to this is to check all the furniture in your office to see which one needs repair or replacement. Apart from broken furniture and equipment, you also need to check the quality of the existing furniture to make sure they are conducive to long hours of working. Replace fixed desks with standing desks. Switch out your old, non-adjustable chairs to ergonomic office chairs. And, look for ergo accessories that will improve ergonomics in your space.

Sitting for too long and not moving enough

Notice your ordinary workday—how long do you stay on your seat, glued to your computer? Most office employees stay on their seat for 8 hours or more of work, with minimal movement and seldom getting up to move or stretch. This takes a toll on your back as the position creates a strain on your back muscles and causing harm to your spine in the long run. 

The solution: Get up from your seat and move more 

Do not stay seated for 8 hours straight, no matter how comfortable your chair feels. Find a way to get up, stretch, and walk around. When you start noticing frequent back pain from sitting at a desk in your office, that is a symptom telling you that you are not moving enough. Set a timer that goes off every hour to remind you to stand and stretch. Find every small opportunity to move—walk over to your colleague to talk, stand while on the phone, and make frequent trips to the water cooler. Every movement helps.

working on laptop

Poor posture

Posture directly affects back pain, because the way you sit or stand determines the position of your back and your body as a whole. Hunching over your computer, slouching on your chair—these common posture problems will not only cause back pain but will also have the potential to cause musculoskeletal problems over time. 

The solution: Sit and stand properly

Be mindful of your posture while you work. If you have to, post small notes around you to remind yourself not to slouch or hunch in your chair. Regularly getting up and stretching will also help you to break free from any bad posture you start to develop as you keep sitting for long hours. The key is to be mindful.

Stress and anxiety at work

It might be easy to think of back pain as a purely physical problem associated with posture, the amount of time you spend in front of your computer, or the kind of lifestyle you live. However, studies show that back pain can be caused by mental stress, too, and that there is correlation between back pain and anxiety among individuals. When you feel stressed, back pain is one of the common symptoms you will likely experience.

The solution: Manage your mental health

If you start feeling back pain from sitting at a desk, check if it is indeed the space outside of you that is causing the problem—or could it be the space inside you, your mind, that is causing the pain? If you notice your back pain happening more frequently during stressful days, there is a possibility that the stress is causing the problem. So, while you address your external environment, make sure to take care of your mental health as well.

Back pain still bugging you? Check if any of the mentioned causes above, or a combination of them, could be the reason for your back pain. The most ideal way to approach this is to work on improving both your physical and mental space. 

Start by creating an ergonomic environment with high-quality standing desks and office chairs.

The MotionGrey Standing Desk and Adjustable Chair are designed to eliminate back pain and help individuals live a more active, less sedentary lifestyle. Start with these ergonomic tweaks, and then work your way to creating healthier habits, physically and mentally.

motiongrey standing desk

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the design considerations I need to check when shopping for a new standing desk for my back pain?
  • If you’re experiencing back pain from sitting at a desk and you’re looking at getting a new adjustable standing desk for back pain relief, there are several things to look into in order to find the right desk:

    • Motor. Choose between a single- or a dual-motor desk according to the power you need from the desk.
    • Height Range. Depending on your height, you want to get a desk whose height range will cater to your standing needs. The wider the range, the better.
    • Operating Noise and Speed. These will determine your day-to-day comfort when operating the desk. Choose a desk with lower noise and higher speed.
    • Table Top Size & Design. There are rectangular desks and L-shaped desks, and you can choose from them depending on the space you have. You can also choose between a regular table top or one made from special materials like wood. 

    For more comprehensive information, check our standing desk guide.

  • What are the design considerations I need to check when shopping for a new adjustable chair for my back pain?
  • The office chair you’re using has a more direct effect on your back pain. If your chair is broken or you feel it’s causing the strain in your back, it’s time to replace it. Consider the following when shopping for a replacement:

    • Adjustability. Check the adjustability range of the chair height and look into the adjustability of the backrest, armrest, and headrest.
    • Lumbar Support. You may get a chair with a built-in lumbar support or an extra lumbar support cushion if your chair doesn’t have one yet.
    • Seat Support. This pertains to the quality of the foam cushion that you have in your seat–make sure it is firm enough to provide support but soft enough to be comfortable to use.
    • Seat Material. Choose between mesh and leather, each having its own set of benefits and downsides. Find more here.

    For more comprehensive information, check our ergonomic chair guide.

  • How much standing do I need to do in a day to eliminate back pain?
  • The answer to this will depend on where you are in your standing journey. Have you been doing this a while? Or have you just started to do it? The best answer would be to listen to your body and check the amount of standing time that is comfortable for you–and then follow that. If you’re a beginner, don’t push yourself to stand too long. A 15-minute standing time every hour should be fine. As you get used to alternating between sitting and standing, you can increase your standing time until you become more comfortable to stand for a longer period. For more information, check this post.

    About Us

    MotionGrey is a Canadian standing desk company that specializes in ergonomic furniture. We supply and install only the best quality standing desks and ergonomic chairs in the country. We offer free shipping within Canada and the US.

    What made you switch to standing desks? Our products are designed with wellness as the focal point. From our electric standing desks to our office and gaming chairs, we deliver best value by putting your health, safety, and comfort as top priority. Boost your creativity and level up work performance. We want you to create great outcomes so we’re providing you only the best tools to make them possible.

    If you are not satisfied with your purchase, check out our Refund Policy.  
    Click here to view our selection of products. Got questions?

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