Back pain at work

Abbey Kole is a physical therapist at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, MA.Back pain is one of the most common conditions affecting Americans – with almost two-thirds dealing with lower back pain. 

One potential cause for the high rates of back pain is the increasingly sedentary nature of our careers. Abbey Boudouvas, a physical therapist at Tufts Medical Center shares her advice on how to best prevent and treat lower back pain after a stationary day at work. 

Adjustments at work

“Back pain can result from many different causes,” said Boudouvas. “Generally, strengthening the abdominal and paraspinal muscles and addressing posture under the guidance of a trained clinician will help immensely.”

Changing your work environment and adding in movement to your everyday work schedule could greatly benefit your lower back. For those who work at a desk, our physical therapists recommend the "Hedge’s 3S’s Ideal Work Pattern” which argues that during a typical 7.5 hour workday, you should perform: 

  • 5 hours sitting
  • 2 hours standing
  • ½ hour of movement
  • 16 sit-to-stand transitions

Benefits of physical therapy

If you are still experiencing pain after making these adjustments, you may want to speak with a physical therapist to learn about other treatment options that may work for you.

Physical therapists can help determine the cause of your back pain, decrease the pain and get you back to the things you love. They are also cost effective - NPR says that the average patient saved around $500 when they sought physical therapy as their first treatment for lower back pain and it decreased their need for opioids by 89%.