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Back Pain And The Office Worker

Back Pain and Facts

At least 120 million working days are lost every year because of people's back problems.

10% of all major back injuries take place whilst handling, lifting or carrying.

Nearly two thirds of adults mostly in their 20's and 50's, experience back problems.

Back Pain is the single greatest cause for time off work through ill health.

Every person complaining of back pain, and any related condition, takes an average of 13 days off work.
(Shocking huh)

Unfortunately, you won't find a magic wand to cure your back problems, but you will find that you can improve or prevent a lot of problems by adopting back-friendly work habits.

Manual Handling

If you think about it, we all manually handle throughout every day of our lives, but have you ever stopped to think just how you go about it...

Do you bend from the waist (naughty),
Do you twist without moving your feet,
Do you slouch in your office chair,

How do you pick boxes, or your screaming toddler up from the floor?

If you sat down and thought about the weight you lift during a normal day, you would probably die from shock because it probably run into tons... Ha, is there any wonder you have those aches and pains?

If you must lift something...

Bend your knees rather than your back,
Keep your feet wide apart to provide stability (This is really important)
Carry objects close to your body
Bend again at the knees to put the object down
When carrying loads, try and lighten them, i.e. try and break them down into lighter smaller loads and store them in areas which are easily accessible.

How do you rate when working in an office?

Make sure your chair is comfortable and adjusted for you, (not everyone else)

Sit so your pelvis is upright
Try and ensure your thighs are at a 110 degree angle to your trunk

Ensure the lumbar support of your chair fits the small of your back so it maintains the natural S shape of your spine

Ensure the armrests of the chair touch your forearms, when your shoulders and elbows are relaxed at your side (This helps to avoid strain in your neck and upper limbs)

Ensure the seat depth allows your bottom to be at the back of the seat with a two finger gap between the front edge of the seat and behind the knees. (Ensures adequate thigh support whilst allowing movement without obstruction).

Make full use of the chair movement especially when reaching for items such as the phone

Don't slouch
Alter your position frequently when using a keyboard
Move if you are uncomfortable. (It's surprising how many people don't)

Change your posture frequently to give your muscles a break
Take frequent breaks from your desk (And no it's not an excuse for a cigarette break)

Keep your mouse and telephone as close as possible (Allowing you to remain relaxed and in a natural position at your desk)

Ensure your monitor is square on so you don't have to turn your head to look at it. (Document holders are handy)

Ensure your screen is at arms length away from your face so the top of the screen is horizontal to your eye line.

The next time you are at work again, open your eyes, and just see how much damage your office job is doing to your back...You just might be shocked.


About the Author

Kim is a Back Care Advisor working in the UK for a large hospital Trust. She's passionate about back Care, and can be found at www.backpain-free.com and www.nursing-hints.com

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