Time to put your back into your healthcare!
When it comes to reasons for visiting the doctor, only the number one cause – the common cold – beats back pain.
It’s estimated that four out of every five adults (a whopping 80%) will experience back pain at some point in their lives. It’s a problem that is affecting industry, with studies suggesting absenteeism through back pain is costing UK companies £673 per employee per year.
So what are the causes and what can we do about it? Some of the reasons are quite obvious: bad posture, lengthy use of computers or tablets, and carrying heavy loads. Other contributory factors are less obvious, such as not drinking enough water and not eating the right foods.
The good news is that there are some simple things we can all do to help ourselves.
- If you work at a computer, take regular stretch breaks; ensure you sit correctly and that your workstation is ergonomically right for you.
- Take care when lifting – whether you’re at work, doing DIY, gardening or lifting a young child or baby.
- Gardeners and physical workers – always use the right tools, take frequent breaks and do regular stretches.
- Children – carry your schoolbags over both shoulders to prevent uneven weight distribution and take to school only what you need for that day.
- And ladies, it’s time you looked at the contents of your handbag – do you really need all those things you’re lugging around with you all day?
- Finally, get walking! Walking strengthens the body and helps position the spine in the natural shape it was designed for. It also helps to build up core strength, which is important in maintaining good posture.
There are other things we can all do to help our backs too, according to Estelle Zauner-Maughan of the UCA: “Most people are chronically dehydrated and the first sign is aches and pains and fatigue. People need to be drinking much more water; staying hydrated cuts out some of those aches and pains.
“Watch what you’re eating, too. Non-processed food is best. Processed foods and those that are high in sugar cause inflammation in the body so go for things from nature; things from the tree or beastie are best.”
When it comes to exercise, Estelle, who is a chiropractor at Naturally Chiropractic in Tynemouth, says squat jumps are perfect – especially for people who work in offices: “Sitting is a huge issue. In October, we’re trying to get everyone moving. In the practice we’re asking people to do three or four squat jumps every hour. You have to use every single muscle and it fires up your nervous system. It’s great for the spine.”
Estelle has noticed a difference in the type of conditions she is dealing with: “It changes with trends and at the moment we are getting a lot of issues with neck, shoulder, upper back and wrists because people are using tablets instead of computers or laptops. They’re using it in funny positions and the tablets are heavy to use.
“Handbags is another issue; we need to learn how to carry them on both arms because if you’re carrying your handbag on the same shoulder all the time, it’s bad.
“So yes, there are some issues because of the way we live, but it’s important for people to know there are some things they can do to reduce the health risks.”
‘Your posture directly affects your health. Improved posture can lead to better well-being’
Posture is the position in which we hold our bodies while standing, sitting or lying down.
When your posture is bad it can increase pressure on your spine, this can lead to tension soreness, headaches, back pain and fatigue.
Postural imbalance also compresses your internal organs, reducing their efficiency and normal functions.
Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of poor posture . It takes a lot of energy to hold the body in any awkward position, and, in turn, alters our breathing capacity which can be diminished by up to 30%
Good posture is the correct alignment of body parts supported by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity.
A good postural position permits you to breathe better, and as a result reduces fatigue and minimises other side-effects associated with bad posture.
Proper posture keeps muscles, ligaments, bones and internal organs in their natural position. This reduces wear and tear of joints and relieves stress, improving health and enhancing your appearance.
Good posture can also increase self confidence with one study revealing that people adopting good posture not only display greater confidence but have stronger belief in their own abilities than those with poor posture.
Correcting bad posture does take discipline, but there is no doubt that the benefits are worth the effort.
BackCare is hoping to raise awareness of these issues and help the UK’s carers with its ‘Caring for Carers’ campaign during BackCare Awareness.
The charity is also distributing a campaign pack featuring educational materials, including the Carer’s Guide and DVD.
The campaign is being run in collaboration with several organisations, including Carer’s Trust, Arc Learning, Guideposts Trust, Carers of Epsom, Action for Carers and the White Lodge Centre.
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