As part of Chiropractic Awareness Week (11 – 16 April) Anne Matthews and Rachel Jones from the Belfast Chiropractic Clinic are urging workers to do more to protect their backs, both in the office and at home.
New research from the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) reveals that over a quarter (28%) of workers in Northern Ireland admit to taking no proactive measures to help prevent back or neck pain. Despite this, a quarter (25%) of people in Northern Ireland who have suffered from back or neck pain say work can trigger it and four in ten (40%) have had to take time off work because of their pain.
The BCA found that 38% of workers in Northern Ireland who have suffered from back or neck pain said that sitting in the same position whilst working for long periods of time contributes to their pain.
Rachel Jones from the Belfast Chiropractic Clinic comments: “The reality of modern working lifestyles means that many more workers are often spending long days in front of a computer screen, either in the office or working remotely and not doing enough to prevent serious strain on their backs. Whilst it may be tempting to do work from your sofa or bed when working from home, poor posture means you could be putting even more strain on your spine. However the good news is there are several simple steps you can take and I would encourage all workers in Northern Ireland, particularly office workers, to follow these to minimise their risk of work-related back pain.”
Anne and Rachel have developed these top tips to help people protect their backs wherever they are working:
- Be computer compatible: Make sure the top of the screen is level with the eyebrows and the chair is tilted slightly forward, allowing for the knees to be lower than the hips and the feet to be flat on the floor.
- Sit up straight: Relax when sitting into your seat, making sure you have your bottom against the seat back with your shoulder blades touching the back rest of the chair. Keep arms relaxed and close to the body and place on the desk when typing.
- Take regular breaks: Don’t sit for more than 20-30 minutes at a time – stand up to stretch, change position and walk around a little. If you struggle to get away then take time to gently massage the back of your head and neck as this will help to improve posture and reduce back pain by promoting balance, strength and flexibility in the spine.
If working from home:
- If possible, designate a specific area in your home for working and always work at a table, sitting on a chair, rather than on the sofa or in bed.
- If you don’t want to invest in a computer stand, place sturdy books, for example copies of the Yellow Pages under your laptop so that you can adjust the level of the screen to fit your eye line.
- Use a detachable keyboard and mouse whenever possible, as this will ensure that your movement is not restricted and you are not placing unnecessary strain on your back.
- An easy way to ensure that you get away from your desk and take regular breaks is to set a loud alarm in another room. When making phone calls, take the opportunity to get up from your desk and move around as you talk
- Embrace the privacy of working from home by doing regular stretches. The BCA has developed a series of simple exercises to improve posture and help prevent back pain. Please see the BCA website for more information: http://bit.ly/straightenup