Back To Basics

Back Pain

  • Causes the individual pain, suffering and restriction of activities.
  • Costs Industry about £6 billion per year in lost production
  • Accounts for about 106 million working days lost
  • Manual and office workers are equally at risk

The facts speak for themselves.   At one time or another, four out of every five of us – regardless of whether we do manual or office work – will suffer from lower back pain.    Somewhere along the line, our lifestyles   do not meet the demands of a healthy back.   So what goes wrong?

The spine is constructed of four natural curves and, as long as it maintains these curves, the risk of injury is fairly low.   The curve in the lower back should    be naturally hollowed but studies have shown that, on average, we bend forwards about 3,000 times a day and backwards (so restoring the curve) only 100 a day.   This huge imbalance in movement places stress on the lower back.

What can we do  to keep our backs healthy?

Office workers should be provided with chairs that will comfortably adapt to supporting the natural curves of the spine.    But having one of these ergonomically – designed  chairs is only half the battle – they have to be used properly to have the desired effect.       The backrest should be adjusted so the rounded area fits into the lower back.

The height of the chair should allow the user to sit with the top of the desk at waist level and with hips and knees at 90 degrees.   If this position does not allow feet to touch the floor, a footrest may be necessary. Remember you will need a similar type of chair at home if you do “office type” work.

No matter how good our sitting posture is, it is important not to maintain a static position for long periods.    The body’s movement helps the distribution of nutrients to bones, muscles, tendons and discs to keep them healthy.   You should take regular breaks, in the form of a change of activity, at least every hour.

To compensate for the imbalance of forward bending to backward bending we should, at regular intervals, restore the hollow in the lower spine.  Do this by standing with your feet a hips distance apart , put your hands in your lower back and bend backwards.

These simple measures, which should be followed at home as well as work, will reduce the risks most of us face every day and will prevent more people joining the growing number of sufferers from lower back pain.


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