Back-Breaking Job! Literally


October 28, 2009 by sparktalk

Dear Experts,

I’ve been at a new job for 2 months now and my back is killing me. The chair I have to sit in is so uncomfortable. I’ve asked for something different but my boss said nothing is available. I brought in a pillow to sit on and my boss seems mad, as if I’m being dramatic. I’ve never had a back issue before. I’d like to propose buying my own chair to sit in, but I don’t think my boss will like the idea. What can I do?


Hopefully your “pillow” doesn’t stand out as such and is more of the lumbar support type? People who sit at desks for long periods often benefit from using a lumbar support and they are not likely to garner attention or seem dramatic.

To try to address the issue on your own there are a few other things you can do in addition to use of a good lumbar support pillow:

  1. Make sure to take regular breaks – once an hour helps most people.  Stand and stretch.  Take a short walk, even if it is just to the restroom or kitchen for a drink of water. If you type at the computer a lot be sure to stretch your hands and arms as well.
  2. Watch your profile.  It is amazing how much difference a good posture can make!  You may want to consult a physical therapist, chiropractor, yoga instructor or other health care professional you trust.
  3. Exercise your core.  Pilates are a good way to ensure that your core is as strong as it can be, which impacts posture and balance, and reduces stress on your muscles.  There are even some exercises you can do at your desk or in your car:
  • Engage your abdomen muscles for six or so seconds, release and repeat.
  • Tighten your pelvic floor for six to ten seconds, release, repeat.
  • Likewise tighten and release muscles in your thighs and calves.
  • Roll back your shoulders and squeeze in toward your spine, hold and release.
  • Hang your neck forward, roll to side, back, other side and up slowly.  Repeat.
  • Be sure to drink plenty of water and do your best to eat a balanced diet and get plenty of rest…when not at work!

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About Mary Sherwood Sevinsky

Masters-prepared Certified Disability Management Specialist. Over eighteen years experience in vocational assessment, counseling, and testimony, primarily in rehabilitation services.
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2 Responses to Back-Breaking Job! Literally

  1. Jawn says:

    Well I suppose from your boss’ viewpoint, if someone brings in a pillow (even if its a backrest), it somehow triggers a sort of ‘sleeping-on-the-job’ perspective. Google image search of “backrest” would get you a few ideas of the kinds of backrests that wouldnt raise that kind of flag. If your boss seems irritated by you bringing in a pillow then maybe its best not to. (You do of course, want to keep your job.)
    Back supports don’t cost too much and it’s definitely better than using a pillow

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