Pain in the back…
Research shows that 80% of the population at some point in their life will experience back pain. Back pain is one of the most common reasons for work absence and costs British businesses upto £624 million a year and the NHS over £1 billion a year.
Professionals including lawyers are known to work long hours, consisting of prolonged sitting positions be it in courtrooms and legal firm offices. Similarly, those in the financial sectors such as accountants and transport industry also engage in long, stressful hours, all of which are detrimental to health, over prolonged periods of time leading to chronic conditions including diabetes and heart disease.
Causes of back pain include repetitive movements, bending and lifting, pre-existing back injuries or conditions and poor posture. Additionally, back pain can occur in absence of these factors and is therefore defined as ‘non-specific’ back pain.
Back pain can occur for a few weeks to months although in some cases, can completely resolve itself without any additional intervention or treatment.
Here are 8 top tips of how to protect your back, now and for the future.
1. Carry lighter loads. Look for alternative manual handling techniques. Could you swap your handbag or briefcase for a rucksack to distribute weight evenly for example when carrying a laptop or paperwork?
2. When walking to and from work, consider wearing flexible footwear like trainers. This type of footwear helps to distribute weight evenly throughout the body and reduces stress and pressure on your lower back.
3. Exercise regularly – walking, swimming, yoga or pilates are great forms of physical activity that can help to strengthen the muscles in your back.
4. Bend from your knees, not from the hips and keep your back straight to prevent long term back problems. For example bending down into the fridge or cupboards, picking up mail, plugging the phone charger are just a few activities that can help you to become more aware of your back when bending
5. Avoid sitting for prolonged periods of time whether at the desk or when driving. Alternate tasks between sitting and standing to prevent stiffness and joint pain.
6. Maintain good posture. Avoid prolonged sitting in a slumped position and hunched shoulders when walking or standing. Good postural alignment helps to reduce stress and strain on the spine.
7. Eating a healthy diet along with regular exercise can help with weight management which can help with easing pressure off the joints and reduce back pain.
8. Invest in both a good quality pillow and mattress to support your neck and spine. A poor mattress can cause back muscles to become strained, affecting the alignment of the spine that can lead to poor sleeping posture and subsequent back pain.
When to seek further advice.
If you experience any of the following, contact your GP, NHS 111 or the accident and emergency immediately.
- Loss of bladder and bowel control.
- Sudden unexplained weight loss within 3 months.
- Numbness and tingling in the genital region.
- Sudden loss of movement in one or both legs.
- Difficulty passing urine or having a bowel movement.
- Constant back pain that does not go away at night.
Our ‘back’ is the only ‘backbone’ we have. By regularly engaging in physical activity, adopting a good posture and paying attention to our lifting and bending techniques are preventative ways to minimise back problems now and for the future.
Coretta Edusei is a Chartered Physiotherapist and Founder of Quantra Health. She specialises in health management and wellbeing in the legal, finance and corporate sectors.
For further information, if you or your company would like to book private consultations or health seminars on back care and work management please email