9 physio tips to beat work-related back pain
9 physio tips to beat work-related back pain
How to prevent back pain at work
Did you know that the majority of Australians suffer from back pain?
In fact, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 70-90% of Australians will experience back pain at some point in their lives. It goes without saying that it is very common to suffer from back pain, however, back pain comes in many different forms.
The reasons for back pain can vary, from physical meaning that the source of pain stems from ligaments, joints and muscles to psychosocial pain due to stress and misread messages from the nerves and muscles to the brain.
The current pandemic has had a huge impact on Australians’ pain both physically and mentally.
With Aussies working longer hours, working from incorrect home office setups and all round increased stress levels, it’s no surprise that people are reporting more back pain than ever before.
Now that most of us are returning back to the office, we spoke with Scott Coleman, Physiotherapist and Founder and CEO of workplace health and safety app Preventure.live couldn’t have come at a better time. Scott has shared with us his top tips for how to prevent back pain in the office.
1. Listen to your body
This is so important to remember when trying to eliminate back pain at work. Those tight muscles and dull aches that just keep getting worse and worse need to stop being ignored immediately.
At the first sign of pain it is important to treat it straight away, stop what you are doing, stand up and stretch the muscles and joints that are causing you pain, you could also use heat on the area for added relief.
2. Move it!
Movement is absolutely key in preventing pain, not moving enough can be as dangerous as overloading your spine.
Your joints need to move in order to maintain function, without movement joints become stiff and painful and the muscles around them become tight and weak.
To avoid this simply move around, aim to move out of your chair and stretch every half hour. This may sound excessive but it only needs to be for a minute or so and the benefits are worth it.
Posture is important when it comes to preventing pain and is one of the most common reasons for back pain at work.
The thing with posture is that one persons ‘good posture’ could be another persons ‘bad posture’, correct posture will vary from person to person depending on their needs.
You are most likely to feel pain from posture when you are positioned in a way that you are not used to.
If you are experiencing pain at your desk when sitting all day then you are most likely carrying out incorrect posture, play around with different positions and find what works for you and doesn’t cause you pain when sitting for a prolonged time.
4. Ergonomic Office
This can be complicated as all our bodies are different and therefore, have different needs, meaning that there isn’t the perfect set-up that applies to everyone.
If your work set up is causing you pain in your neck or back then it is not ergonomic, plain and simple.
Even if you have had a professional set this up for you, if you experience pain whilst at your desk then it is not the correct set up for you.
Only you know what feels right and what causes pain, so tweak your setup and try out different chair, desk and monitor heights.
5. Replicate previous environments
If you are experiencing pain now that you are back at the office after spending time at your home office then it most likely means that you perfected your home office set up and now that you are back in the office your body doesn’t like your work set up anymore.
Try replicating setups that have previously worked for you and didn’t cause you pain.
Don’t be afraid to ask your work for a new chair if your current one is not working for you, everyone is different and has different needs.
6. Loosen your Thoracic spine
Your Thoracic spine is the upper part of your back and the least mobile section due to its connection to your ribs. This is the first part of the spine that will stiffen up when sitting at a desk for too long.
Due to its stiffness, the Thoracic spine causes the lower back and neck to compensate and move more, increasing the risk of injury.
To loosen your Thoracic spine and decrease pain in your upper back all you need is a towel.
Tightly roll up a towel on the floor and position yourself on top of it, imagine you are creating a ‘T’ shape with your shoulder blades and spine.
Hold this position for 20-30 seconds everyday when you come home from work and take note of the results.
7. Screen height
You stare at your computer screen for the most part of your day so the height of your monitor or laptop screen is extremely important.
Your screen should be at eye level, you should not be looking up or crouching over whilst looking at your screen.
Close your eyes and sit up straight, open your eyes and see where your eye naturally lands. If your gaze isn’t at the centre of your screen then it needs to be adjusted until it is.
8. Standing desk
These are a great way to keep your body moving and in control of pain, but just like how prolonged sitting can cause pain so can prolonged standing, so you should be alternating between the two regularly.
Make sure you are wearing correct footwear when using a standing desk, if your shoes aren’t supportive, slip them off when using the standing desk to reduce pressure on your feet.
9. Try Wearable technology
Try using technology and apps that can help with your posture, such as Preventure.Live.
The ‘Office Coach’ feature on the Preventure.Live app will notify you when you are slouching, when to stretch and even tracks your steps and alerts you when it’s time to move.