Most people in the UK will have back pain at some point in their lives and it’s one of the main reasons people miss work, accounting for 10 million working days in 2014.
There can be various triggers, from injuries such as whiplash or a slipped disc, to slouching in chairs, and although its most commonly felt in the lower back, it can be felt anywhere from your spine to your hips.
Olly Jones, head trainer of the Marlow Club, and representative for Movelat, says; “The major issue with those suffering from back pain is lifestyle, whether you are spending lots of time in a car, sat on the sofa or working behind a desk all day.
“The body is not designed for activities such as this, which lead to muscles becoming tight and inactive. If people then attempt to embark on an exercise regime without a protocol in place to release, stretch and engage these muscles, problems will arise.”
The charity Back Care, who set up Back Care Awareness Week, has the following tips for keeping your back healthy:
1. Exercise your back regularly – walking, swimming (especially back stroke) and using exercise bikes are all excellent to strengthen your back muscles, but anything that you enjoy and helps you keep active will be beneficial.
2. Keep active and moving even when you have pain. Gentle walking and stretching will prevent stiffness. Also try to avoid long periods of bed rest as this is counterproductive.
3. Always lift and carry objects close to your body, bend your knees and your hips, not your back and never twist and bend at the same time.
4. Try to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle as this will help prevent back pain. Quit smoking as it increases your chances of developing back pain.
5. Use painkillers when pain occurs to allow you to carry on being active. If pain is persistent see your GP as they may be able to prescribe stronger painkillers or investigate further.
6. Consider your work environment. If you work in an office look at your workspace and ways to adapt it to help you manage your back pain. If your work is more manual in nature try to be aware of and work according to health and safety procedures such as manual handling or loading procedures.
7. Try to carry loads in a rucksack and avoid carrying single sling bags.
8. Always try to maintain good posture. Avoid slumping in your chair, hunching over your desk and walking around with your shoulders hunched up.
9. Always use a chair with a back rest and sit with your feet flat on the floor or on a foot rest. Don’t forget to change your sitting position every few minutes.
10. If you do suffer from back pain caused or made worse by being at work, talk to your employer or HR department. They may be able to help you come up with adaptations to your work environment, patterns and activities in order to help you better manage your back pain.
What do you do to look after your back? Tell us in the comments box below