Questions about back care would have to be the dominant questions I am asked as a physio. I don’t think I am exaggerating by saying that 80% of the work we do would be related to the spine and its sequelae.
The underlying principle for caring for your back (and including any muscle/joint problems) is the balance of strength and mobility. Sorry folks but this translates as exercises, now for those who are imagining hours at the gym, the ‘loneliness of the long distance runner’, or similar pain be still… I am talking about movements that can occur in all the activities of daily living, by doing (being active) and doing well (in a good way) you can maintain and improve strength and mobility.
This isn’t to say that the gym and other more structured or involved exercise programmes aren’t good and can take to you to another level but for the purpose of caring for your back the elements are pretty simple:
- Avoid static/stationary positions… (our spines are made to move, to sit, stand or adopt a sustained posture in our work and leisure) this is a short cut to back pain and problems.
Having said that I recognise that many of our work situations (and increasingly our leisure) demand set positions and postures for protracted periods so we have to get smart and be aware to prevent problems.
- Move frequently! What does this mean at work, get up and walk around for 2 minutes every half hour, at the very least stand up at your work stations and do some simple stretches.
Try to incorporate different activities into your work schedule eg; if you’re bound to a computer mix it up with filing, distributing documents around the office, making coffees for the other staff (added benefit of racking up brownie points), phone calls (for work of course!!) and anything else you can think of, variety is the spice of life!
If the boss gives you hassle let them know that current research shows a marked improvement in productivity in the work place when short breaks are taken every half hour to forty minutes so working variety into activities works for you and your boss… besides having a valued employee off with back pain / RSI is going to be much more costly than regular short breaks or different activities.