New research has revealed that people are experiencing back pain and neck pain more frequently than before. The team at Haslemere Chiropractic Clinic would like to provide some simple, effective advice for preventing this type of pain.
Consumer research, carried out by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA), analysed trends in back and neck pain over the last five years. The findings showed the proportion of people in the South East of England experiencing back and neck pain each week has risen from 37% to 46%. Interestingly, the most common triggers for their pain have also changed.
The most commonly cited trigger for back and neck pain is lifting and carrying heavy items. In addition, 41% of people reported that sitting still for long periods of time is contributing to their back pain (up 7% over 5 years). The number of people pointing to their job as the cause of their discomfort has also risen, now affecting a fifth of the local population.
Based on these findings, here are our 5 top tips to protect ourselves from the some of the most common triggers for back and neck pain:
Take a break
We know that regular movement and exercise presents a simple way of offsetting the triggers for back and neck pain. When sitting for long periods of time, whether you’re at work, driving or catching up on box sets, ensure you stand up and move around every 30 minutes. Simple activities such as stretching and shoulder shrugging can also help to keep your body moving when you’re sitting for longer periods of time.
There are many benefits of keeping active, including preventing and managing back pain. Even something as simple as a 20-30 minute walk every day can have significant health benefits. Physical activity can be beneficial for managing back pain, as a stronger body can cope better with the demands you make of it. However it is important that if the exercise you choose is of a moderate to high intensity that you warm up and down properly to get your body ready to move! If a previous injury is causing you pain, adapt your exercise or seek some advice. Activities such as swimming, walking or yoga can be less demanding on your body while keeping you mobile. Your chiropractor will be happy to discuss different types of exercise with you and help you to get going.
Work in comfort
When at work, make sure your desk is set up to support a comfortable position. This is different for everyone so if you don’t feel comfortable in your current set up, try altering the height of your chair or screen.
Stuart Robinson has prepared a short video to provide some tips for setting up your work station. make sure that your screen directly in front of you and use Stuart’s outstretched arm technique to help adjust it to the right height. Aim to have the desk at a height that allows your elbows to be at a 900 angle so that your arms can rest on the desk. Set up your chair correctly so that your hips are above the level of your knees to encourage good back posture, then adjust the back of the chair to offer as much support as possible to your back.
You could also think about experimenting to enable you to vary your posture during the day. Maybe consider a standing desk, or using a wobble cushion to sit on.
If your day involves time spent in the car, give some thought to adjusting your car seat for optimum comfort.
Carry with care
While maintaining a strong body can help to prevent injuries, lifting and carrying in a safe way can help to prevent the leading cause of back and neck pain. Just as an athlete has to train to lift heavier weights, we should all only attempt to lift objects that we are able to without too much strain. If an item is particularly heavy then try to make use of available equipment which can help to take the load off your back, or reduce the load to smaller more manageable chunks.
Fiona Ellis provides some tips about carrying, particularly with the idea of picking up children in mind. Try to lift from a raised height, avoiding lifting from floor level whenever possible. Get close to the object that you are going to lift, have your feet at hip width apart (ideally with one foot slightly in front of the other). Bend at the knees and hinge at the hips whilst trying to keep your back as straight as possible. When carrying anything, try to move your whole body rather than twisting with it, and to put it down choose a height above floor level if you can.
Straighten Up! The British Chiropractic Association has created a programme of 3-minute exercises, Straighten Up UK, which can be slotted in to your daily schedule to help prevent back pain by promoting movement, balance, strength and flexibility in the spine