Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Are you sitting comfortably?

Back pain is a common problem, with four out of five people suffering from debilitating back pain at some point in their lives.

The main causes of back pain are bad posture, strained muscles or ligaments, and stress.

Therefore, it is essential that action is taken to prevent back pain occurring, and that you are also aware of how to manage back pain.

The majority of back pain lasts from a few days to a few weeks, typically occurring in people aged 30-50.

However, if you experience back pain for the first time when you are under 20 or over 50 this is a red flag, as is pain in the ribs, so a check-up with your doctor is vital.

Causes of back pain

Researchers believe there is no singular example of 'the perfect posture' as it depends on the position you are in, whether standing or sitting, although it is essential to maintain the alignment of the spine as misalignment leads to imbalance in muscle tone.

Furthermore, as women are particularly prone to posture and back problems due to carrying heavy handbags, pregnancy, and holding children on their hip, it is particularly important to take certain steps to prevent back pain.


There are numerous ways that back pain can be prevented in the work place and at home. Here are a few tips to prevent pain the workplace:
  • Keep head raised: focus on aligning your head and neck right above your shoulders, avoiding leaning forward
  • Make sure the mouse is next to the keyboard to avoid overreaching the wrist or twisting the shoulder
  • Choose a chair with good lumbar support, tilting the chair back so it is slightly reclined
  • Keep the monitor at arm's length and two to three inches above eye level
  • Feet should be flat on the floor, shoulder width apart to avoid tension in the knees and ankles and maintain alignment of the spine
  • Don't cross your legs as this makes it difficult to keep the spine straight, risking over-stretching pelvic muscles and increasing risk of varicose veins
  • Take regular breaks to prevent you from becoming stiff and tense
Measures can be taken at home to minimise and avoid risk of back problems. These include:
  • Vitamin K, which is present in broccoli, spinach, and dark green leafy vegetables, is essential to build strong bones. Strong bones make a strong body!
  • A softer mattress is better for the back, relieving pressure on the spine
  • Bags and briefcases should not weigh more than 10% of your bodyweight as this will lead to strain on the spine. A messenger bag distributes weight more evenly across the body, being a better option
  • Core strengthening exercises ideally reviewed by a qualified practitioner specifically to your needs

If you suffer from back pain, it is treatable. The best treatment for back pain is to stay active and use over-the-counter painkillers if necessary. It is very important to remain active as your back muscles become weaker the longer you are immobile, causing more problems in the long term.

If back pain lasts longer than six weeks, exercise classes, acupuncture, physiotherapy, or combinations of painkillers are the main forms of treatment.

UCLan's Physiotherapy Clinic offers acupuncture and physiotherapy, along with many other services to alleviate back pain, at a low cost of only £30 for an initial assessment and treatments ranging from as little as £25.

For more details please click here or telephone 01772 894902.

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