I sit down a lot at work. How can I avoid back pain or injury?

Some of the jobs most likely to cause back pain involve prolonged periods of sitting. There are some simple measures you can take to reduce the risk. They will also help guard against RSI and other aches and pains:

  • Maintain good posture while sitting at work. Try to sit upright as much as possible, with abdominal muscles pulled in for support.
  • Check that both feet are flat on the floor, or on a suitable footrest.
  • Don't cross your legs – this restricts circulation and puts your spine out of alignment.
  • Keep forearms in a horizontal position, and wrists supported, when typing.
  • At your desk, position the phone so that it is on the side that you answer it. Avoid crooking the phone in between your head and neck. If you use the phone a lot, a headset is a good idea.
  • The more you sit, the more you need the counterbalance of physical activity outside work, e.g. a brisk walk at lunchtime or swimming after work.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has a guide on using Display Screen Equipment (DSE).

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.