Back pain is one of the most common reasons for people in the UK to see a doctor or take time off work.
Modern day life of sitting for many hours in poor postural positions can place stresses and strains on the spine, which may not cause discomfort immediately, but can build up over time.
Whilst it can be tempting to work on your laptop from the comfort of your sofa or bed, don’t fall into his trap! You will slump your lower and mid back, your head will come forward, and this poor spinal alignment can, over time, lead to injury.
However, the good news is that your back is stronger than you think, and not easily damaged. For those who suffer from a simple sprain or strain, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy report that 98% of people recover reasonably quickly.
The human body needs movement! This benefits not only the body, but the mind as well. Being in the same position for hours at a time can lead to stiffness, postural fatigue, and eventually discomfort. It is easy to slip into bad habits, particularly if you are tired, stressed, or have no colleagues around to encourage you to have a break, or remind you about how you are sitting.
Aim to adjust your posture every 20-30 minutes, in addition to regular breaks from your desk every hour. Be active during your breaks to increase circulation, reduce muscle tension and fatigue, and improve concentration. If you have noticed that your daily step count has reduced since working from home, add in a 20 minute walking ‘commute’ to your desk in the morning and at the end of the day.
During your breaks, include exercises which will help you keep a strong ‘core’. These deep abdominal muscles provide the body with its own natural corset and help maintain the natural curves of the spine.
If you do experience a back injury or discomfort, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy advise the following:
- In the first days of injury, avoid any aggravating activities.
- It is perfectly normal to move differently and more slowly in the first few days of an injury.
- Avoid pronged rest. Instead, stay as active as you can (without over doing it).
- Exercise has been shown to be most helpful for tackling back pain and is the most effective strategy to prevent future episodes. Try yoga or gentle stretching.
- Sleep is important too. It reduces stress and improves your overall feeling of wellbeing.
- If your back pain or injury doesn’t improve or you are concerned, you should seek help from a medical practitioner.