On average, an office worker will spend approximately 5-6 years of his or her life sitting at a desk. The typical human will spend 9.5 years of their life watching television. Driving your car takes up almost 5 years of your life, 3 months of which are spent stationary in traffic (undoubtedly more in London). That means over 20 years of the average human’s life is spent parked on their bottom, which is quite shocking.
According to recent reports, the NHS spends a total of around £1 billion per year on back pain treatment and general medical costs associated directly with back pain. That is a staggering amount of money for something that is known to progress the more you sit.
There are lots of ways in which you can prevent the development of back pain or limit the progression of your condition. Here are our top 8:
There has been a highly correlative relationship shown in decreased mobility rates and increased back pain. Our spines are made to move. The nature of the joints in our back is to be supportive, yet move with fluidity. Poor posture and maintaining unhealthy positions for extensive periods of time are very damaging to our backs and our bottoms alike. It is therefore no surprise that individuals, such as those mentioned above who spend 20 years sat on their rump, will develop back pain.
Work with a Physio
Your physiotherapist can prescribe gentle mobility exercises and stretches with their distinct knowledge of the spine. These can both prevent and alleviate any problems you may already have or could develop in the future.
Tighten that tummy
Improving the musculature around your stomach and back provides extra support to the spine. When moving and bending, good muscle tone around the stomach and back reduces the strain and stress points on the bones themselves.
Some of our physiotherapists at Physiocomestoyou are also trained in Pilates; this further contributes to their anatomical knowledge of the back, as well as improving their ability to identify which muscles can be contributing to poor posture and increasing injury risk. This is can be used to progress and advance the exercises you’re performing independently.
If you are spending most of your time behind a desk, at least make it a safe or appropriate working space. It is possible to have your physiotherapist assess your desk space and work area in order to limit strain to your back whilst working. This may consist of altering your seating, desk arrangement, or general advice to improve posture.
In some businesses, there has been the introduction of formal meetings being hosted whilst standing, with desks and other equipment placed on raised desks to allow individuals to work whilst upright. This is to reduce the amount of time being sat down while at work. Incentives like this are being used in conjunction with awareness schemes to promote walking around the office at regular intervals. Is this something you could consider introducing at your workplace?
It’s all well and good standing, walking regularly, exercising and correctly moving your back when picking up objects, but if your posture is bad, you will be vulnerable to back injury. Slouching, rolled shoulders and sitting in a slumped position fatigues the muscles of the back. They become over-stretched and weak, meaning their workload is placed on other muscles and structures of the back. Excessive load on these structures makes them prone to injury.
Improve Your Sporting Technique
If you’re suffering from an aching back following intense sport, your technique could be contributing to a lot of issues, resulting in pain. Sports such as golf, cricket and hockey require a lot of twisting forces to be exerted on the spine, which are often contributed with flexed postures. Over-training can be an issue with the spine where the muscles will fatigue, or bones can stress (sometimes even resulting in a fracture). Having your therapist analyse your sporting technique alongside your coach can identify any movements increasing your risk of injury, as well as identifying weaknesses in your sporting performance.
By following this advice and considering the above when you next experience back pain, you can potentially limit its progress or reoccurrence. You may still be susceptible to back pain from the nature of your work or damage already dealt to your spine, but working alongside a physiotherapist can limit the disabling nature of this pain, and help you get back on track.
Post by Zoe Birch, Head of Orthopaedic Physiotherapy at Physiocomestoyou.