Physiothereapist, Department of Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation, CIHSR, 4th Mile, Dimapur
Back pain is becoming a very common problemhindering us to do anything freely and experienced by more than half of the people.The pain can vary from a dull constant pain to a sudden sharp feeling and it usually occurs because of an injury to the muscle, nerve, disc or bones of the spine due to accidental or non-accidental injuries or because of degenerative changes due to old age.Non-accidental injurieswhere pain arises even without any injury to the back while doing normal activities such as sittingin an office chair or doing household work or driving.The majorcontributors to these non-accidental injuriesare poor body postures, prolonged activity, repetitive motions and fatigue.
Occupations that are physically demanding and require repetitive lifting (such as in healthcare and heavy industries) are at greater risk for both accidental and non-accidental back injury. A person who have a sitting job and sits most of the day with or without computer or those who stands for prolonged periodare also at high risk for non-accidental injury. Pain is not only limited to the back but also leads to stiff necks, painful shoulders, numbness and pain in hands and legs, headaches, etc.
The many situations that lead to back injury can be identified and avoided by following four basic rules
• Prolonged static posture should be avoided as the healthy body can only tolerate staying in one position for about 20-30 minutes only. So whether you’re sitting or standingchange positions frequently, stand for few seconds if you are sitting, stretch that body or take a short walk, keep a small note or a reminder to take a few seconds break in between work.
• Frequent or repetitive motion or awkward postures can cause injury to your back like jobs which involves lifting things from the floor, lifting overhead or turning your back while lifting. Rather than bending on the back to lift an object bend on your knees and lift, use a stool or chair to keep things overhead rather than lifting and turn your whole body to lift objects from the side or behind.
• Heavy loads offer greater risk so if the job requires moving heavy or bulky objects, it is important to have the proper tools for lifting or get help rather than lifting it alone and pushing the object are easier on the back than pulling it.
• Fatigue from over working or due to poor health can also cause back pain. If one is overtired or feels fatigued it is advisable to avoid lifting heavy objects alone or quickly.
Maintaining a good posture is very important both at home and at workas good posture combined with the way activities are performed throughout the day can substantially improve the way ourbody feels at the end of the day. Back-friendly posture is a valuable component of preventing or managing back pain while performing any activity. Incorrect posture while standing for long periods of time, sitting in an office chair or driving are all common causes of back pain.Initially it might a bit uncomfortable to sit up or stand straight but over time it becomes a habit, if your job requires standing a lot wear shoes with good support and cushioning. Use a small stool or box to keep one foot up while standing to help take pressure off the back and remember to change your foot and body position every 20-30 minutes.
Maintaining a good sitting posture is important for people who has to sit for a prolong period of time either doing desk work or working in front of the computer. Taking stretch breaks and walking breaks every 20-30 minutes, adopting a body friendly workstation by adjusting your office chair, computer and desk is important to relive stress from the back. Most of us have the habit to sit only at the front half of the chair which results in us hunching forward to look at the computer screen causing strain to the neck, shoulders and the back. The better way is to sit back fully in the chair and use the back support to keep the head and neck straight. To ensure a comfortable workstation the computer screen height, the position of the hands and feet and the type of chair we use is important. Choose the correct height of the table depending on the purpose of the work and the individual’s height. Adjust the chair height so that the desk is elbow high, keep the foot flat on the floor or use a footstool, adjust the height of the computer screen so that the top of the screen is at the eye level.
Regardless of the time taken sitting in wrong position while driving can either cause or increase the back discomfort. So sit comfortably with your back straight and properly supported on the seat, either a small cushion or a rolled up towel can be placed between the low back and the seat for better comfort and support of the spine and do take breaks in between if you are going for a long drive . Sit at a comfortable distance from the steering wheel but not too far also as this will stress your neck, shoulder and wristand can aggravate your back pain, avoid hunching forward while driving.
So remember the golden rules to take breaks in between work, get up and walk around, stretch those muscles and exercise for a happy and healthy back.