Two months into the year and again we have seen an increase in requests for help with back pain. This is not an unusual trend for this time of year as both companies and individuals look to continue with good practices but need some expert advice.
So I have created a new poster summarising how to reduce your back pain with new tips and ideas for 2017 . Contrary to what you may have heard, you can actually reduce pain yourself, simply by following a few simple steps and best practices.
Back problems are often multi-causal so it takes a multi-disciplinary approach to resolve them and its worth asking at the offset these questions.
- Do you sit at your desk for more than a few hours a day? – do you know how to sit correctly?
- Are you working from home and do you use a laptop regularly?
- Do you regularly have to see a physio/osteopath?
- Do you have a regular exercise regime including stretching?
- Do you know what foods and vitamins are good to help keep your back healthy?
Do you sit at your desk for more than a few hours a day?
Take a moment now to consider your desk and chair are set up correctly. Many people never take the time to do this, even though it really only takes a few minutes to ensure hours and years of greater comfort levels. Even if you aren’t currently experiencing any pain, bad posture will catch up with you and it takes much longer to resolve back pain than it does to prevent it. Top tips are:
- Don’t slouch. Over time this puts a huge amount of pressure on your discs and, if you are currently undergoing physio treatment, it will undo any of their good work, creating a vicious cycle. Sit up for a happy back, neck and shoulders.
- Variety is key. Listen to your body and take a posture break when needed. At the very least, take a short standing break at least once an hour. The act of standing alone gets the blood flowing through your body again. If you have a sit stand desk, regularly break up standing and sitting, and always alter when tired. The guidelines suggest no more than 4 hours of standing, spread throughout the day rather than in one go.
- Ensure your chair is set up properly. Let the chair do all the hard work and take the tension off your back. Take a moment to get to know your chair and check if any adjustments could make the chair more comfortable and suitable for you. I have met so many people who have sat on the same chair for years without making any adjustments to suit them and then wonder why they aren’t comfortable!
- Lumbar support. This is the key adjustment – check if it is height or depth adjustable and then ensure that it fits into your lower back curve as closely as possible. Our chairs include lumbar support as standard. see Ergonomic chairs.
- Screen, keyboard and mouse set up. Just check this are all correctly positioned. Too far away and they will cause you to slouch forward. Bring everything to you rather than you leaning forward to reach them and bring your chair close to the desk.
Unsure about any of the above or need bespoke advise? Ask about our workstation assessments, specialist chairs and back support cushions.
Are you working from home. Do you have a desk set up with a computer? Then just take a moment to adjust it as you would in an office.
If you are one of the many working from your dining table with your laptop do ensure:
- Your lower back is supported in an S shape curve and that you are not arching your back into a C shape. If you need more support, consider using one of our specially designed back cushions that have been created to help convert even the most basic chair into a more ergonomic, supportive one, relieving tension and pain build up. See Back Supports
- Avoid the laptop slouch. It is essential to raise your laptop and use a separate keyboard and mouse so you don’t end up slouching over for hours on end. This will save you hours at the physios in the long term, yet many people don’t even seem to realise that this is how you should use a laptop. We generally just sit, grab and type…for hours…..slouched over……and then wonder why our neck, back, arms and shoulders ache!.
Do you have a regular exercise regime?
At least 20 mins a day is advised, as well as taking regular standing breaks throughout the day. Even gentle exercise such as walking and swimming are wonderful for the back. Any exercise program that strengthens your back rather than load it is beneficial. Ensure you pick one that you enjoy to encourage you to stay motivated.
As well as the above, Pilates and Yoga are known to be fantastic for stretching out the back, keeping your spine flexible and core strong. Do try and find a class with a qualified instructor who understands how each exercise can help with different back pain issues. These are now really popular and should be easy to find a local class. Many physiotherapist clinics also offer these in house so you can squeeze one in at lunchtime, so check with your local clinic. Or try these excellent videos: Stott pilates (DVD’s), Jessicavalantpilates.com (on You Tube).
There are many foods that are reported to help lower inflammation, including those that include Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Vitamin D, Omega 3, Turmeric.
Check your diet includes these or consider taking supplements, but do check with your Doctor beforehand, especially if taking other medication. Do be careful not to have too much mercury in your diet as this can cause joint pain.
AND remember to Drink plenty of water. It really is essential to drink around 2 litres /8 glasses a day to keep healthy and your spine nourished.
FINDING THE RIGHT HELP
Listen to your instincts and find the right practitioner for you. If you have been undergoing treatment for a long period of time, but with no improvement, consider seeking alternative advice. This is particularly important when you have a hard to diagnose condition, so try and find the person who is experienced with treating your own symptoms and issues.
All of the above help when stress levels are high. The link between stress and back pain is acknowledged as stress causes tension build up which leads to back pain. Remember to take breaks even when you are busy and relax those shoulders – this helps focus as well as keeping your back healthy.