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Preventing Low Back Pain Owning To Long Working Hours A lifetime of poor posture, poor lifting, bending and reaching, and twisting activities can gradually weaken your back's supportive structures as well as cause pain and injury

By Dr Karishma Daswani

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Eighty percent of us will experience back problems at some point in our lives. Back pain is ranked second only to headaches as the most frequent cause of pain, and tops the list of workplace injuries, causing more loss of time, disability and money than any other workplace injury. Our backs are a carefully engineered network of bones, tendons, ligaments, and nerves that help balance and bear the weight of our bodies and the load we carry. Any minor damage or imbalance to this delicate system can stress muscles and joints, causing pain and injury. A lifetime of poor posture, poor lifting, bending and reaching, and twisting activities can gradually weaken your back's supportive structures as well as cause pain and injury.

The main risk factors for back pain are being overweight, poor muscle tone, poor posture, sedentary lifestyle and lack of mental well-being; and it's no wonder so many of us suffer from back pain. Nevertheless, it's not a part of life you have to accept passively! It's a common misconception that manual workers like those in construction are at a higher risk for back injuries. The fact is, those individuals in sedentary jobs are at risk for back injury, too.

Physiotherapists, who help people suffering from musculoskeletal (MSK) issues i.e. pain in joints, muscles, soft tissues & bones report that the most commonly reported pain is that of back and neck. What is worth noticing here, is an increasing incidence of back & neck pain among younger adults, age group 20s to 40s.

Consulting orthopedic surgeons now recommend physiotherapy for managing low back pain as well. With proper self-care, good prevention techniques and exercises advised by a physiotherapist and an active lifestyle, you can be well on your way to fighting off back pain. That's why it's important to practice the prevention tips included in this section—and keep doing them even when you're feeling better.

Simple workstation changes for sedentary work & laptop users could be:

  • Adjust and adapt laptops: A separate monitor and the keyboard is the best way to adjust the hand position
  • Modify your Body Position: Avoid tilting your head. Try to keep all your muscles relaxed. Sit "tall" aligning your ears on your shoulders
  • Adjust the work pattern: reduce prolonged use of computer and minimize use of electronic gadgets unnecessarily
  • Most importantly, move. Movement has a lot of biomechanical benefits

So remember the answer to your low back pain is ERGONOMICS. Physiotherapist at Masina ReLiva Physiotherapy Centre says that everyone could use these two magical formulae that could help you with maintaining Ergonomics in your daily routine. Remember the magic formulae:

  • For every 20 minutes you work on a gadget (including laptop, computer, mobile, tablet etc) you should try to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This thumb-rule will keep you reminded to shift the position of your neck and relieve it from the gadget overstrain.
  • For every 30 minutes of sitting, you must get up to stand or walk for 3 minutes. This thumb rule will help you shift position from sitting to some sort of movement away from your desk and relieve overstrain on your lower back.

Short 5 minutes "workout at work' programs, annual "posture check-ups' and corrective programs and "group therapy programs' can easily be implemented by any organization without any interruption and disturbance to its existing business schedule. Also, educative workshops on ergonomics, posture, and exercises should become a part of their training program. Physiotherapy centre regularly assists various corporate, with its Physiotherapy expertise, to develop solutions for specific needs of the workplace, many of those in IT/ITES community. That is how it adds not only to the well-being of their employees but also helps create a healthier and more productive work environment.

If you are an office-goer and have face back pain, wrist pain, shoulder problem or similar ailments, reach out to your physiotherapist and start practicing basic activities listed in the article!

Dr Karishma Daswani

Head of Physiotherapist Department, Masina Hospital

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