Is your ‘working from home’ office taking its toll on your back?
Perhaps your ‘office’ is your dining table, kitchen counter or even your sofa. No surprises then that lower back pain is on the rise as more people work from home. Lockdown saw complaints of back and neck pain increase by over 50%, according to the UK Institute of Employment Studies.
Even before the pandemic, back pain was one of the most common problems clients came to us with as physiotherapy can help undo the problems caused by poor posture. Slouching and slumping over time lead to back pain. But why exactly does this happen?
When good posture becomes bad
Good posture means that the extensive spinal muscles in your back are working in such a way that they hold your back upright and keep the bones of your spine (vertebrae) aligned. This helps equally spread the force applied on your back by gravity and your own body weight. As a result, the surfaces of your vertebrae, the cushions that sit in between your vertebrae (intervertebral discs), your ligaments and other soft tissues in your back are kept in good shape.
Good posture takes effort and can’t be held indefinitely, which is why even when you’re comfortably seated with your spinal muscles engaged and your back supported, you still need to take breaks away from your desk. This helps stretch out your spinal muscles and prevents them from tiring out.
If you don’t take frequent breaks, your spinal muscles become fatigued and you start to slouch. Fatigued muscles tend to tighten and become painful. Long periods of slouching apply a constant strain on your vertebrae, intervertebral discs and soft tissues. The pressure on your intervertebral discs and spinal joints is unevenly spread and therefore causes discomfort, pain and stiffness.
6 ways to prevent postural back pain
As with most health conditions, the old adage, “prevention is better than cure” holds true when it comes to back pain. As experienced physiotherapists, we often see clients in need of back physiotherapy to correct the effects of poor posture. But you can take steps to avoid postural back pain setting in. Here are our top 6 tips:
Properly set up your work desk
Ensure that you can sit upright on a height-adjustable chair, with a 90° bend at your ankles, knees and hips, and your screen at eye level. Your mouse and keyboard should be within easy reach — this means your elbows should be at your side not extended out in front. If you’re using a laptop, consider investing in a laptop riser, and a separate mouse and keyboard.
Take regular breaks
Get up and leave your desk every 30–40 minutes to stretch your legs (and your back).
Exercise at your desk
Remember those exercises that they tell you to do when seated on a plane journey? Do them while you’re working at your screen too.
Try a posture trainer
Posture trainers, such as UprightGo!, are effective additions to the fitness technology world. They monitor your spinal angle and when you start slouching, they vibrate to tell you to straighten up.
Sit/stand desks help reduce your sitting time and can reduce back pain.
A healthy back needs strong muscles and that’s where regular exercise can help. Make sure you include a good balance of both cardiovascular and strength-building exercises.
If you’re struggling with back pain, our highly experienced physiotherapists help and advise you on how to get your back in good shape again with targeted physiotherapy in Twickenham. Simply contact us on 020 8898 1231 or at email@example.com.