Backache is one of the most common causes of disability and pain globally.
While most causes of back pain are not serious or sinister, it can severely affect your quality of life and make it difficult to complete everyday tasks. No wonder I have always been so busy as a back pain specialist.
Throughout this extended period of working from home, I have noticed two problem patterns have emerged resulting in more common occurrence of back pain in my patients.
Problem Pattern 1 – Unsuitable work chair
Lockdown has caused a change in the work environment, with many patients resorting to sitting on chairs unsuitable for sitting in 6 + hours per day – such as a dining table chair!
Problem Pattern 2 – Overdoing exercise
Many patients are excited to return to sport and exercise, but overdoing exercise and sport – especially after a significant period time off a specific sport due to lockdown restrictions – can easily result in injuries by being over ambitious.
The first problem pattern dominates and is the effect of prolonged poor posture on the back. Sitting causes more pressure on the discs of your spine and sitting in a bad posture causes even more load over long periods of time.
What can you do to combat these problem patterns?
Tips to help combat back pain from your home work environment:
- If you are in a job that requires sitting for long periods of time, you must take a 10 minute break every hour to stretch and stand up – even if you are still working.
- Make sure you have an appropriate chair suitable for prolonged sitting. It doesn’t have to be the most fancy chair, but it must to give you some lower back or lumbar support and ideally some neck support. Make sure your feet touch the ground when sitting.
- Make sure you adjust your monitor height to eye level to avoid neck strain.
- Have you tried a standing desk? Standing and walking are a good way of allowing your posture to ‘reset’ and allows the natural spinal curves to reform.
Remember to consider your workday patterns from an evolutionary perspective too – for much of the 20 million years since we evolved from hominids, it’s only for a tiny fraction of that time that we have sat at a desk most of our working day!
Tips to help combat back pain from overdoing exercise / sport:
- Be mindful and seek help before attempting new exercises if you are not used to it.
- Ease back into sports such as tennis or golf which were restricted during the pandemic. Don’t get right back onto the court / range and start at the same level before lockdown.
- Slowly build up your endurance and give your body time to get back up to the same level of fitness before lockdown.
For more helpful tips and how lifestyle changes can improve the health of your back, follow me on Instagram: @drrajivbajekal