14 tips to avoid back pain

It isn’t always sport or accidents that cause injury.

A large number of our clients with back and neck pain have created the problem by working at a computer. Here are 14 tips to avoid causing yourself damage at work:

  1. Good posture is vital. This means a straight lower back, shoulder blades pushed back, your head in line with body, and no chin poking! These require a good chair and your computer to be at the right height.
  2. Move around every 30 minutes to wake up your postural muscles.
  3. Drink lots of water to keep hydrated; frequent visits to the bathroom will also remind you to keep moving!
  4. Sitting down doesn’t mean you have to be statuesque. Stretch your arms, legs and neck while you are at your desk.
  5. Get someone qualified to look at your workstation.
  6. Exercise during the middle of the day; and don’t use a lack of gym membership as an excuse – a brisk walk will do your muscles no end of good.
  7. Stick a post it note on your desk that says ‘Posture’; when you start to ignore it, make ‘Posture’ your screensaver!
  8. Sit right back in your chair and bring the chair as far as possible under your desk.
  9. Don’t lean on your desk.
  10. Use a lumbar roll to keep your back in place (you can purchase these at our reception area).
  11. Stand up if possible when taking phone calls.
  12. You may not notice your shoulders and neck tensing up; make sure you relax them as often as possible.
  13. As little as 3-5 deep breaths an hour will help to relax tense muscles.
  14. Address any stress issues – maybe try yoga at lunchtime.

Look after your own back when doing lots of DIY or gardening!

  1. Don't just suddenly spend a whole day digging or weeding etc. Varying the tasks that need doing will help you change position and therefore use different muscles helping to reduce problems associated with prolonged static postures.
  2. As much as is feasibly possible try to maintain your low back (lumbar) curve with all the activities. Being bent over for quite a while coupled with heavy work or repetitive work can overstrain back muscles making the back more vulnerable to injury.
  3. Take regular breaks. In the workplace the EEC regulations suggest we move every 45-60 mins but I'd suggest if you're doing something very heavy, static or repetitive, more frequent breaks are a good idea.
  4. Warming up and stretching - normally we just associate this with sport. But manual work is exercise too. Making sure that you have good length (check out the link for stretches) and strength into your back and leg muscles can help reduce overstrain on your back. If you're not sure what's tight or weak maybe book an appointment with a physio or someone similar who can assess you and give you specific advice on what to do.
  5. Wearing the right footwear - instead of wearing flip flops for ladder work or digging try wearing trainers or something with some support in it.
  6. Choosing the right equipment for the job. Equipment for gardening and DIY has advanced quite considerably over the years, if you're doing a lot of something it may well be worth investing in the right bit of kit for the job helping to limit problems etc.