Looking after your back at home and in the work place
Our osteopaths in Maidstone have put together this 10 point guide to prevent back and neck pain.
1) Lifting from lower down.
If you have to lift any heavy objects such as reams of paper or shopping onto a work surface make sure you bring the object as near to you as possible before you lift it. Take care to lift the object properly – bending knees and keeping the back straight. Let your legs do the work!
2) Do you carry heavy bags of shopping or over-full brief case to work?
If you habitually carry a load in one hand – try swapping hands each day. Better still share the load – especially shopping bags between both arms or even cradle your bag in front of you. Try not to cram too much into one bag – try two instead of one – it will save your back as well as the bag! Make sure though that the weight is evenly distributed – so that you’re not putting more strain on one side than the other.
3) Do you cradle the telephone?
If you do find yourself cradling the phone between your ear and shoulder try to sit up straight and keep your hand on the receiver. Don’t lean into the telephone. Better still if you use the telephone for hours each day consider getting a headset.
4) Do you sit with your legs crossed much of the day?
Watch out if you habitually cross one leg over the other – not only could it cause back problems by twisting the pelvis, it can also lead to unsightly varicose veins. Try to keep your feet flat on the floor when at your deck – and adjust the height of your seat to find the most comfortable position.
5) Do you sit in a draught?
Try to avoid sitting in a draft or near an air conditioning vent as this can cause added tension to your neck, shoulders and back. Always keep a spare sweater handy in the office – wrap it over your shoulders if you start to feel a bit chilly.
6) Do you sit still for hours in meetings?
Try to avoid sitting still in a chair for hours on end. If you can, get up at least once an hours and walk for a few moments. Sitting for long periods of time puts enormous strain on the discs in your lower back and the small joints of your spine. To stop your meetings putting a real strain on your back try these simple tips.
- Be conscious of how you sit in your chair – try not to slump and keep moving your position.
- Make sure you have proper support for your lower back. If your chair isn’t giving you the right support try a cushion or even a rolled up towel.
- Even when you are sitting down you can exercise, try stretching tall, flexing your toes and ankles and tightening then releasing your calf muscles.
7) Does your chair give you proper support?
Does your chair give you proper support? Whether at home in an armchair or sofa or in an office chair at work it is important that there is enough support to prevent your lower spine slumping. This not only puts strain on your lower back but also on your neck and shoulders. Always use an office chair with proper support of your lumbar spine and at home make use of a cushion to support your lower back.
8) Does your desk/workstation cause you to twist or put strain on your back?
Is your desk laid out in such a way that causes you to twist when working at your computer or when moving from telephone back to your keyboard? If so make sure your desk is arranged so you can sit squarely to your keyboard and computer screen and use a chair that swivels so you don’t have to twist your body to use the telephone or reach the printer.
9) Is your chair height right for your desk?
If your chair is the wrong height for your desk you could be causing yourself unnecessary back problems and neck pain. Get one that is easily adjustable so that you can change the height, back position and tilt. Have your knees level with your hips. You may need a footrest to achieve this.
Adjust your chair height so that you can use the keyboard with your wrists and forearms straight and level with the floor. This can help prevent repetitive strain injuries. Your elbows should be by the side of your body so that the arm forms an L-shape at the elbow joint.
Rest your feet on floor. Your feet should be flat on the floor. If they’re not, ask if you can have a footrest, which lets you rest your feet at a level that’s comfortable. Don’t cross your legs, as this can cause back pain.
Place your screen at eye level. Your screen should be directly in front of you. A good guide is to place the monitor about an arm’s length away, with the top of the screen roughly at eye level. To achieve this you may need to get a stand for your monitor. If the screen is too high or too low, you’ll have to bend your neck, which can be uncomfortable.
Using the keyboard. Place your keyboard in front of you when typing. Leave a gap of about four to six inches (100mm-150mm) at the front of the desk to rest your wrists between bouts of typing. Your wrists should be straight when using a keyboard. Keep your elbows vertical under your shoulder and right by your side. Some people like to use a wrist rest to keep their wrists straight and at the same level as the keys.
Keep your mouse close. Position and use the mouse as close to you as possible. A mouse mat with a wrist pad may help to keep your wrist straight and avoid awkward bending. This will help reduce the risk of repetitive strain injury and wrist pain.
10) Try to avoid lifting heavy objects on to high shelves.
If you have to lift heavy objects, kitchen appliances or files on too high shelves try to avoid lifting them above your head and never lean backwards as that’s a recipe for disaster for your back and neck! Use steps to get to the right height.
Osteopath in Maidstone | The Bower Mount Clinic
Make sure your seat provides correct support for your back and you look straight onto your computer screen.