Did you know that back pain is one of the biggest reasons for work absence and sick leave? If you think about it, back problems are a central issue for all companies – especially in office environments – and should not be ignored.
Are you sitting comfortably on your office chair as you’re reading this article? Why not take a few minutes to inspect your office furniture. Ask yourself if sitting on your normal chair all day is putting any stress on your back, or if your back is properly supported. It is widely claimed that your seated body posture at the desk plays a significant role for many aspects of your health, including the state of your back, neck and shoulders.
Of course, back pain can be due to many reasons – obesity, exercise and injury being common offenders. Long-term lack of exercise is also often attributed to back pain that gradually worsens over time. That said, back ache can also be a symptom of more sinister conditions, so it’s always advisable to consult your GP if your back pain becomes constant or is getting worse.
Whatever the reason for your chronic back ache – whether it’s from a gym injury or an ergonomically unfriendly chair – there are many ways to alleviate the pain, or better still, prevent it from occurring in the first place.
Check your sleeping position
We all have our favourite sleeping positions and these can be hard to change. Are you a front, back or side sleeper? If you have back problems, it’s recommended that you sleep on your side, with your legs slightly angled and perhaps a pillow between your legs. This encourages a natural spinal position and helps to ease any pain.
Take more exercise
You should aim to be physically active for at least ½ hour every day. This doesn’t have to involve anything too strenuous, but it should get the heart rate going enough so that you feel a moderate level of physical exertion.
As a minimum, a simple walk will do, ideally taken in the morning. It’s a good way to stretch your back muscles and get them active after a long night’s lying down in bed.
Keep your weight healthy
If you’re overweight or obese, your body weight is putting extra strain on your back which may cause or contribute to your back pain. If you only have a bit of weight to lose, increased physical activity and adopting a healthier eating regime may do the trick. However, if you are obese and are struggling to deal with the weighty situation, it’s best to talk to your GP about effective weight loss techniques. These are likely to involve diet plans and specific exercise plans to help you get back to a healthy weight.
Take pain relief medication
Back ache is no joke – it can range from a little occasional twinge to debilitating and excruciating pain. Talk to your doctor about how best to manage your condition. He may suggest NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as paracetamol or ibuprofen which are available over the counter, or he may prescribe other, more suitable medication for your particular ailment.
Use ice packs and hot wraps
Ice packs or the ubiquitous bag of frozen peas are a great way to bring down swelling and bruising, especially for newly sustained injuries. Hot baths, hot water bottles and microwavable wheat bags are recommended to alleviate aching muscles and ease chronic back conditions. If you’re not sure whether heat or cold is most suitable for your condition, check here.
Try Pilates exercises
Pilates is a great way to improve your flexibility and build core strength in the body, with exercises performed on a mat or using special equipment. Check with your GP to see whether this type of exercise could help with your back problem.
One little exercise you might like to try is to lie on your back with a tennis ball beneath you. Move your body to roll the ball around to gently massage the affected area, allowing muscles to stretch and relax and the pain to subside.
See a physiotherapist and/or osteopath
Physiotherapists and osteopaths are professional therapists who have undergone lengthy, specific training to treat musculoskeletal disorders in the body – muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones. Whether you’ve had a sports injury or are suffering from a chronic back condition, the therapist is able to accurately locate and identify the source of the pain, and offer effective treatment.
Dakota Murphey, BA (Hons) Marketing graduate working with ergonomic chair specialist Corrigo Design, who were consulted over the information in this post.
Until Next Time… Charlotte x