Looking after your back

479678591Back Care Awareness Week puts the spotlight on back and neck pain – and how to help prevent it. This year’s campaign, running 6-12 October, will focus on good posture and stress-free living among office workers.

According to the NHS, about 7.6 million working days were lost due to work-related back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders from 2010 to 2011. Follow this advice for a pain-free working day:

Sitting pretty

The average UK adult sits for nine hours per day – more than double the recommended limit of 4-5 hours.Prolonged sitting is strongly linked to back pain, heart disease, diabetes and cancer and even regular exercise can’t undo the effect of sitting.

Become aware of how many hours you clock up, including while eating, commuting, working and relaxing.

80 per cent of Scandinavian workers now ‘sit-stand’, compared to only one per cent of UK workers. Find out more about commercial and improvised sit-stand solutions at getbritainstanding.org.

Be creative with new positive habits to build frequent movement variety into your day – stand on public transport, park your car further from work, take phone calls standing, experiment with walking meetings and reduce the amount of television you watch.

Stress relief

Large studies have shown that workers who are frustrated and emotionally exhausted by their work are likely to develop back pain – so why do individuals most often attribute their back pain to physical triggers like posture and lifting? In fact, these are two parts of the puzzle: pre-existing stress simply causes the body to respond differently to physical factors. Back pain sufferers are three times more likely to regularly depend on prescription medications for stress.

Stomach pain, chest pain, heart palpitations and trouble breathing are all three times more common if you have back pain.

Become aware of your stress levels and the link between your stress and your health. Muster the courage to seek out effective solutions to your stress – try deep breathing, yoga and take walks and regular breaks from your desk. If you are still worried about your stress levels see your GP.

For more information see the National Back Pain Survey 2014


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