Back pain is one of the most common causes of sick days in the UK and people often suffer from back pain due to poor posture. Your back is affected by the way you walk, lift, bend and sit at your desk and it’s important to maintain good posture to protect yourself from back injuries and long-term damage.
Good posture helps to reduce your risk of muscular aches and pains and is particularly important if you stand or sit in the same position for prolonged periods of time.
If you work in an office, it’s likely you spend a long time sitting down every day, particularly if you use the computer. In this case, you must always make sure you sit in the right position so your back is properly supported. Slouching and slumping places strain on your back, increasing your risk of acute or chronic pain. When you sit at your desk, make sure your back is straight and your shoulders are back. Your computer should be at a level where you are not reaching to type or bending to see the screen properly.
When standing, try to keep your back straight, head held high and shoulders back. Avoid slouching or bending over if you can.
Lifting is a common cause of back injuries and if your job involves a lot of heavy lifting, it’s important to adapt the correct position to do so. It’s also essential that you have equipment to help you lift heavier loads in a safe manner. Keep your back straight, bend your knees and avoid any sudden or jerky movements. You should always lift with your legs rather than your back. Always be sure to have a firm hold on the object before you start lifting and avoid any kind of twisting movement, as this can cause injury or severe back pain.
Dealing with back pain
If you suffer with back pain, check your posture and the equipment you use at work. If you don’t already have one, ask for an adjustable chair and make sure it offers lumbar support (support for the lower back). It’s important to take regular breaks and stretch your back to ease and prevent tension. You can also do exercises at your desk or at home to strengthen and condition your back muscles. Good exercises for the back include planking, bottom-to-heel stretches and back extension (also known as the cobra stretch, as you raise your chest whilst your back is straight, like a cobra). If you have worsening back pain or chronic pain in your back, it’s important to see your GP. Back pain should be treated early as it is likely to get worse as time goes on.