As you’re reading this now, take a moment to reflect on how you are sitting at your desk. Are you slouching? Uncomfortable? You could be making your back pain worse.
Back pain affects almost all of us from time to time and because it is so common, we tend to ignore the first few painful twitches or spasms and put it down to a minor strain that will eventually go away.
But our hectic lifestyles often mean that back pain is a content source of misery for long periods of time. Anyone from sports players to stay-at-home moms can have issues with their back, and for a variety of reasons. Injuries, heavy lifting, bad posture and even stress can be the underlying causes of back pain.
Are You Sitting Comfortably?
Poor posture is a very common cause of minor back pain, because we spent more and more time sitting at desks in the office or at home in front of the computer, and we might not even notice we’re doing it.
If you find yourself slouching forward, try sitting upright with your knees slightly lower than your hips and at a 90° angle to the floor. Feet should be flat on the ground, although sometimes people find a footrest more comfortable.
Your eyes should be level with the top of your screen and your elbows should be at a comfortable height at your sides, with you just being able to rest your arms lightly on the keyboard.
Your back should be straight, but don’t force yourself into an unnatural upright position — this is just as bad and can get very uncomfortable very quickly!
Ergonomically designed back rests that fit onto chairs can help with maintaining the correct posture, so find out who’s responsible for equipping the office and ask them to order one for you. It might also be worth investing in a good quality chair at home too.
Exercise Is King
Exercise is one thing we should all do, yet something very few of us are doing regularly. Exercise can both prevent and help ease back pain, and walking or swimming are easy activities that strengthen the muscles you use in your back.
Gentle exercises, such as pilates or yoga are also great preventative measures against back pain and encourage muscle flexibility as well as overall wellbeing.
Heavy Lifting — The Safe Way
Whether you’re lifting heavy loads in a shipping yard or just carrying shopping into your house, the safe way to lift things and prevent serious injury is always the same. Here’s a few basic steps to remember when lifting heavy loads:
First, check the load. If it’s very heavy or an awkward shape, ask for help!
When you’ve assessed the situation, stand with feet slightly apart and one foot behind the object you are lifting, and one to the side of it. This helps maintain balance.
Bend your knees (very important!) and keep your back straight, but not vertical. Grab the object firmly with the palms of your hands and fingers. Make sure it’s secure.
When lifting, keep your back straight and lift using your legs (they’re the strongest muscles in the body, so it makes sense that they do all the work).
Carry the load close to your chest — don’t hold it at arm’s length.
- Bend the knees when putting the object back down again.