Better Back Health

Preventing Back Pain & Injury at Work

Heavy lifting, repetitive movements, standing or sitting at a desk all day can take a toll on the back and body. Certain medical conditions and lifestyle factors — such as obesity, sleeping position, poor physical condition, smoking (decreased circulation), and stress can also contribute to worsen back problems. MUSC Employee Wellness offer free chair massages at rotating locations midday on Wednesdays. Check Yammer (Broadcast Messages) for details.

Common Causes of Back Problems at Work

Cell Phone Usage & Texting

Cell phone use can double or triple the weight of the head and lead to neck strain as the head is tilted forward and downward in order to look at the device.

The use of these devices influences our posture and body mechanics in unhealthy ways that contribute to neck, upper back, shoulder, and arm pain. Furthermore, poor posture while sitting, standing, walking, or in a static position can lead to more than upper body pain and stiffness—poor posture affects other parts of the spine, such as the middle and low back.


  • Use a desktop computer for extended work and make sure these devices are arranged ergonomically.
  • When using a cell phone, instead of bending the head down to look at it, raise the phone.
  • When reading the screen, bring the phone up level or just a little below the face.
  • Try these stretches to help relieve tightness.


Improper posture, such as slouching, can exaggerate the back’s natural curves leading to muscle fatigue and injury.


Make Workstations Back & Body Friendly

Proper positioning of the workstation including the height of the chair and desk factor heavily along with posture. Evaluate whether your workspace is properly set up.

It is the policy of The Medical University of South Carolina to improve the comfort and well-being of employees by identifying and correcting ergonomic risk factors in the workplace. Risk Management provides assistance for ergonomic and musculoskeletal injuries through The Ergonomics Program (PDF). MUSC Employees and students may request an in-person ergonomic worksite evaluation by first filling out an Ergonomic Symptom Survey (PDF). Please note: No evaluations will be performed without the knowledge of the employee’s immediate manager. Your supervisor must sign and fax forms to Occupational Safety and Health Programs at 843-792-0284.

Better Back Health Toolkit for Wellness Champions (PDF)