Category Archives: Back Pain at Work

The Top 5 Clothes Making Your Back Pain Worse

A new study has found that British women are putting fashion before their health.

back-pain-posture

The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) has found that 73% of women have suffered with back pain and their wardrobe could be a major factor.

Even though 28% of women are aware that clothing affects their back pain and posture, they are still not bothered by this when shopping for clothes.

Wearing skinny jeans and backless shoes, for example, can make pain worse. 33% of women were not aware at all that their clothing and accessories could affect their neck or back pain.

Tim Hutchful, a BCA chiropractor, states: “I am always surprised at how many of my patients are unaware that their clothing and accessories can affect their back health and their posture and, equally, how many decide their outfit-choice outweighs their pain.

“Some of the most popular items of clothing can have a hidden health impact. While overloaded and heavy handbags are a common culprit, some more unexpected items like skinny jeans can also wreak havoc – they restrict free movement in areas such as the hips and knees, affecting the way we hold our bodies. New trends such as asymmetric hemlines, oversized sleeves and hoods and heavy jewellery can also create problems.”

clothes-affecting-backpain

 

The study showed the Top 5 clothing culprits for worsening back pain are:

1. Skinny jeans
2. Oversized shoulder bags
3. Coats with large fluffy hoods
4. High heeled shoes
5. Backless shoes, such as mules
Tim suggests: “Try and limit the number of times you wear skinny jeans or high heels every week so you’re giving your body a break, or try investing in a backpack for days when you have a lot to carry around.”

There are lots of smart handbag-style backpacks available, such as ones like this:

posture-back-pain

Here are some tips that the British Chiropractic Association provide to help you follow fashion without your health paying the price:

• Variation is key: Wearing similar pieces of clothing every day could trigger back pain, by regularly restricting certain parts of your body from moving freely. Shift the pressure on these areas by varying the styles of clothes you wear.

• Keep it loose: Tighter clothes restrict your body from moving freely so looser clothing, such as baggy trousers, maxi skirts, or straight leg jeans, are a good choice.

• Put the bag down: Heavy handbags are a particularly common cause of back pain in women. Pay attention to the bag you carry around and regularly check for and empty your bag of unnecessary items. Backpacks are the best design for your posture as they distribute weight evenly across both shoulders, so it’s great that these are back in style. Avoid bags that must be carried in the crook of your arm, as the weight of these held away from your body pulls one shoulder lower than the other, twisting your neck and spine. If your bag has one strap, alternate the shoulder you carry it on or, if it has a long strap, wear it across the body.

• Put your best foot forward: High heels force you to hold your body in a manner which promotes tension in your spine so, if you wear high heels, counteract any potential damage by wearing trainers or shoes with a lower heel from time to time and try to choose a wedge or chunkier heel over a stiletto.

• Get the right support: Clothes are important but what you wear underneath can also affect your posture. Bras need to fit properly so that your shoulders don’t take all the strain. When shopping for bras, look for one which has an underband that is neither too tight nor too loose. Ensure that the centre-fold fastener sits close to your body and that the straps are not too tight on your shoulders. Getting a fitting at a shop (many offer this service) is the best way to get a good fit.
This research was carried out between 14/02/2017 and 20/02/2017 on behalf of the British Chiropractic Association.

 

Relieve Back Pain By Changing The Way You Move

moving-with-back-pain

The way you move around has a direct impact on your back pain, and you might not know that you could be making things a lot easier for yourself and relieving your pain simply by changing the way you move.

When I was at school, I had an old 70s-80s Parker jacket like the one in the picture. They were very popular; everyone had them. One day I was walking to school with the hood up, as it was raining. When I got to school a classmate said she saw me on my way to school and called me but I didn’t hear. I asked her where she was and she said outside her house. Well, I knew that I didn’t pass her house directly. I would have been at least 80 feet away on the adjacent street when she saw me, and with the long snorkel Parker hood up, how could she have known it was me?

parka back pain“I could tell it was you because of your walk” she said. “Oh god – I have my own walk?” I thought. And I did. I was always late and have short legs so I walked fast with huge strides for my size.

When I since suffered back pain for nearly two decades, my walk changed. I could no longer walk fast, and I could no longer walk with huge strides. Sometimes the pain was so bad it was barely an old lady shuffle, and I didn’t even realize this until I got my old walk back again!

Once I was fit and well again and almost totally pain-free, I also noticed that my old, usual walk includes bobbing up and down – the way happy, confident people do!

Have you ever noticed? – Miserable people shuffle along, but happy people bob.

The key is firstly to stop fearing the pain. Be confident that you can walk how you want to and move in a fluid way, rather than a cautious, jerky way.

In addition to walking jerkily, many people with back pain are all tensed up when they move around, especially when they are anticipating pain and fearing it.

And when I say tensed up, I don’t mean in an obvious way where all our muscles are clearly flexed. We can still be tensed up without knowing it. Masseurs find tense spots all the time that the client didn’t know was tense.

One way we can test if we are unconsciously tensed up is to check where our shoulders are. If they are not as low as they can be, then you are most likely tensed up. When you lower your shoulders, you normally also relax other parts automatically.

Of course this tip applies to sitting or standing still as well as moving around, but if you move around while tensed up, your pain will be more severe and you will have little chance of relieving your back pain if you make a habit of this.

Have you ever spoken without moving your mouth (usually when you don’t want to be seen speaking)?

I always think that walking chronic pain sufferers are the equivalent of this. They’re so scared they will make their pain worse, they tense up, walk jerkily and ultimitely end up being in more pain.

So remember:

  • Keep reminding yourself to lower your shoulders
  • Move in a fluid way
  • Do not fear the pain

And hopefully you can walk tall, proud and happily once again.

Take care

Paula

Don’t Adjust Your Gait To Ease Your Pain

If you have signed up to my free course, you will know that it is not spine degeneration that causes your back pain, and that there are things you can do to ease your pain, no matter what diagnosis you have been given.

You will also know why back pain sufferers have lots of other types of temporary pain too. While I was out walking the dog this morning, I was reminded of just how easy it is to eliminate these temporary types of pain – within minutes.

The cause must be related to the fear thing because they always used to last all day – or a few days or weeks – when I worried about them, as I did before I realized what was going on.

When you are out walking about, and have pain, such as foot pain or knee pain, you might be tempted to adjust your gait (the way you walk) or adjust how you distribute your weight, in an attempt to ease the pain.

But I’ve found that if you try and just walk normally, and ignore the pain, the pain goes a lot quicker.

I cannot stress that enough. It’s happened time and time again. It can’t be a co-incidence.

In fact, if I’ve not got people around me I actually play a little game; I pretend that I’m somewhere important, and that I can’t appear to be hobbling about; I’ve got to look professional and dignified, and then I walk in an appropriate way, which would be as normally as possible – even though I’m in pain.

And the pain goes. Within minutes. It really does work.

(If I have got people around me, then it’s even easier to pretend I can walk normally).

A few years ago when I had a bad right knee, I adjusted my gait and ended up hurting my right hip and achilles heel as well, and it still didn’t help the knee pain.

Then I realized what to do, and when it returned the following year, I just walked normally, did the gentle exercises I’ve recommended on this blog, and kept my knee warm and the pain disappeared within a few days.

If you allow the pain to take over, you will walk abnormally for a long time; your pain will worsen and your mobility will deteriorate. Try to nip this behavior in the bud now, and maintain your previous level of fitness.

 

Patient’s Own Stem Cells to Treat Back Pain

stem cells back painThere is a lot of controversy about the use of embrionic stem cells to treat a miriad of diseases, but now patients are being treated with their own stem cells and a recent case invlolves a Dallas man having been treated for back pain.

As reported on WFAA.com (WFAA-TV), Neurosurgeon Rob Dickerman of Forest Park Medical Center in Dallas has carried out a procedure on firefighter Chris Youngman that takes cells from the hip and uses them to grow more bone tissue in place of degenerated discs in the spine.

Now Chris can work out again and return to work, thanks to the pioneering treatment.

Traditional spine surgery to treat backpain has an extremely poor success rate and has often left patients in a worse condition than before, but this type of surgery claims to be much more effective, and a lot less evasive.

Though I still think surgery should be a last resort, for people in manual jobs who don’t respond to any other treatments, this could be suitable for them.

What do you think?

 

 

One Cause of Neck Pain – Forward Head Posture

forward head positionHave you noticed you get more neck pain than you used to? Or more headaches than you used to?

One of the most common culprits for causing neck pain, upper back pain and headaches is Forward Head Posture or Forward Head Position (FHP).

Forward Head Posture can also increase insomnia and breathing problems. It’s a completely abnormal position for our heads to be in. The head should always be positioned directly over the body so that your neck is aligned with your back. Your back and neck is designed to support the head, but only when it is directly above it!

When you lean your head forward, you are demanding more work of your neck and back muscles. And as they are not used to this movement, they will ache. You are also actually producing the equivalent of adding more weight to your back and neck , in the same way that holding a heavy object with outstretched arms will seem a lot heavier than holding it close to your chest.

There are no prizes for guessing what the biggest culprit is, in making our heads universally want to move forward! Yup. Our computer screens.

So how do we get rid of this pain?

Well, the first thing is to stop our bad habits, and refrain from leaning forward. People with headrests on their office chairs are a lot less likely to be guilty of holding their heads forward. When you have a headrest, you can lean your head back against it, and even recline back a bit. This is mostly how I sit in my marvellous Kinnarps 6000+ chair.

One thing you could try is to move your monitor closer to you. How much space do you actually need between you and the monitor anyway?

I know some people have their keyboards in between, but really, it’s better to have the keyboard on a shelf lower than the desk, so your arms are in the correct position. If you have that luxury, then bring your monitor closer to the front of your desk. There! –You’ve just increased your monitor size in two seconds – for free!

Also, most browsers let you increase the size of the text, by pressing Control and + together. Make sure you have just the text set to increase; not the pics too, or they’ll all be poor quality. You can change this in View > Zoom > Text Only in Firefox.

People laugh when they see the size of my screen text, and ask me if I’m half blind, but although I have 20/20 vision, I think why should I have to squint or move my head forward to read people’s miniscule online text? I work online all day – I might as well make the experience as comfortable as possible. Also, it ensures I get fewer headaches.

But what if you’ve got into the habit of having your neck forward the whole time, or for a lot of the time?

One great way to stop it, is to set an hourly timer. I have a stopwatch that bleeps on the hour every hour. And when I hear it, I check my posture, and re-adjust it if I’m not sitting straight, and I check my To Dos to make sure I haven’t got distracted. Trust me the hourly chime does wonders!

If you use this technique you’ll get out of the habit of poking your head forward pretty quickly.

I actually set up a video camera to record me for an hour on the PC a few months back. I was aware that I wasn’t aware (!) of my posture while I’m in the moment and concentrating on my work. I’m happy to report, I only lurched forward once, and that was when I saw a shocking headline, and couldn’t believe what I was seeing, so I took a closer look! (like him in the pic above!) But the rest of the time, my posture was pretty good.

So to prevent FHP and minimize the chance of getting back pain, neck pain and headaches:

  • Move your monitor closer to you
  • Increase text size
  • Use an hourly chime to check your posture regularly
  • If possible, get a ergonomics chair with a head rest (and arm rests)

And remember:

“No good deed goes unpunished”

So don’t stick your neck out – it’ll hurt!

Paula

5 Tips to Relieve Back Pain

5 back pain tipsBack pain, lower back pain and sciatica are some of the biggest concerns of employers, as they keep millions of people off work every day around the globe. In fact most adults will suffer some type of back pain at some point during their lives.

If you suffer from back pain, you may not realize it but you can alleviate a lot of the pain yourself easily. Even if you have received, or are currently receiving treatment, you can still help your recovery along with these 5 simple steps.

Tip 1
prevent back painDistribute your weight evenly. When standing, don’t put your weight more on one leg than the other, as you would normally when standing with a hand on one hip for example. Also if you must carry anything for any considerable length of time, choose a backpack style bag, rather than a shoulder bag. And wear it properly! How many times have you seen backpacks thrown over one shoulder? It completely defeats the purpose! You can buy lots of purses and handbags that come in the backpack style – you don’t have to look like you’re going camping.

Tip 2
Relax! I learned this one when learning to drive. Often, I was so anxious, my shoulders were almost up to my ears! And I wondered why my back pain was worse than ever, when driving. Relax your whole body, and move in a fluid, rather than a ridged way. You may have to remind yourself to lower your shoulders, but once you get used to it, you will be able to do it automatically.

Tip 3
Improve your posture. Some people will think that this tip contradicts the last one, but you can still maintain good posture, while staying relaxed. It is when we are sitting that we tend to slump, and adopt poor posture. But a lot of chairs do not help either. Make sure your chair has a full back to it, and if it is not an ergonomic chair, add a cushion or lumbar support to keep your lower spine in the correct position. Keep your shoulders back and your head straight. You should also have your thighs parallel to the floor and your feet flat on the floor, or on a foot rest.

Tip 4
Keep hydrated. Drink plenty of water in order to keep your muscles hydrated. Hydrated muscles are happy muscles because they are more flexible and stretchy, and less likely to go into spasm or get pulled or damaged.

Tip 5
Do gentle cardiovascular exercise as often as possible. Walking for around 20 minutes is the best type of low impact cardio exercise, as it is easy to incorporate into your day, and still gets the heart pumping. It gets you moving and warms up the back muscles, and if you walk slightly faster than you would normally, you will breathe better, which gets oxygenated blood to your muscles too. In fact you can still achieve this from walking at your normal pace, and simply breathing deeply.

Try using these tips regularly and you should notice a reduction in your pain. The most important thing is consistency and organization.

photo by cambodia4kidsorg

Air Conditioning Is Bad For Your Back Pain

air con affects back painIn the last post I talked about ergonomic chairs that support the lumbar spine  in the right place, but even some ergonomic chairs, still fail to keep the back warm, because they have a mesh becking. This allows cold air from air conditioning vents to pass through.

While this is great when you first arrive at work, after you have been running up the stairs, it is not ideal after two hours of sitting down, when workers’ body temperature has considerably dropped. No-one thinks to turn the air conditioning down or increase the air temperature after an hour or so, and this too can save people’s backs.

People who are prone to back pain should not be sat near or in the path of air vents, as this can worsen their condition. It is an invisible threat and so often goes unnoticed, even by the sufferers themselves. For the people who are always hot, and insist on the air-con being ramped up to full power (“cranked up to 11” as Spinal  Tap – scuse the pun – would say!), those individuals should have an additional small fan in their faces (it’s usually their faces that need the breeze most).

Here’s another silly thing that a lot of employers do that costs them more money. They have the air con on full all day, but it’s set to room temperature. You can achieve the same results  if you have the air con on low and set to room temperature. It just takes longer initially!

Turning it up to full power is only needed for a short amount of time to change the temperature quickly.

So tell your employer you know a cool way (sorry, I’m all puns today) that they can save money on electricity AND on sick days from people with bad backs, simply by having the air con on low!

Image by Kenkwsiu on Flickr

 

Top 10 Ways To Prevent Back Pain When Sitting

Top 10 back pain tips when sittingSome employers are waking up to the fact that their employees need to be kept comfortable while working, in order to reduce the number of sickness days due to chronic pain; most notably Back Pain.

The Oman Observer reports that staff at Omantel are being asked “Are You Sitting Comfortably?” as part of a new campaign to reduce the number of back pain incidents and promote better posture so that they look after their backs and stay healthy.
The Omantel Human Resources Unit know that encouraging people to sit properly with the correct posture was vital in acheiving better health and safety standards at work.

Employees are also being given individual questionnaires that help them judge if their backs are healthy and give them practical advice on what to do to make sure their backs stay pain free and injury free. See the full story Here.

More companies need to follow suit. It’s fine to provide them with ergonomic chairs, but many people don’t sit correctly in them, or make the biggest mistake of all; they stay in the same position for too long.

It’s essential to change position regularly, and to stretch and exercise while sitting down for long periods of time. You can achieve this by doing the following exercises; all of which can be done while sitting:

  • Shoulder rolls
  • Shoulders up (for two seconds at a time)
  • Head rolls
  • Arm Stretches
  • Elbow rolls (similar to the funky chicken, but circular)
  • Buttock clenches
  • Thigh clenches
  • Back stretch (arms back, arch the back and face the ceiling – ONLY for a few seconds)
  • Hand stretches (spread the finger out, together with regular making of fists – NO punching people!!)
  • Abdominal clenches  (while rolling your back forward for a few seconds – chin on chest)

posture at workDo these every 20 minutes if possible. No fewer than every 60 minutes. You might want to TELL people beforehand, so they understand what you are doing! In fact why not do a presentation on this for everyone to use?

Some companies don’t even supply their staff with ergonomic chairs, which is a FALSE economy, when they end up losing their staff to back problems.

My personal favorite ergonomic chair is the Kinnarps PLUS 6000 series, and it MUST have arm rests. See one Here. They come in hundreds of different colors and fabrics. And they’re very solid and durable. I have had mine since 2003 and it’s still going strong.

But the best advice to reduce back pain when sitting is to move about when on your breaks. So many people just continue to sit at their desks and look at their emails, or browse the internet. Get up and go for a walk, even if only for five minutes, and it will make all the difference to your back.