Back pain is one of the most common ailments people suffer with. It is estimated that over 80% of us will suffer with lower back pain at some point during their lives.
An estimated 10 million work days were lost in 2014 due to back pain, resulting in a loss of earnings of over £1 Billion. Unfortunately this number is on the rise (there were 7.7 million workdays lost in 2013). The last 2 years of statistics have not been release but we can have a good guess about which direction they have gone.
What is causing this increase in back pain?
As healthcare professionals we commonly hear people say “it’s just old age” or “wear and tear” but if it is that simple, would it be increasing at such a significant rate year on year?
In the UK we spend and increasing amount of time in front of technology, on average 8 hours 41 minutes per day, which is more than the average persons sleeping time (8hours 21mins). This is a significant contributor to back pain.
A human head weighs about 5kg. When you are using a phone, computer or tablet there is a tendency to tilt your head forward and this is where the problems start. A head tilted just 15 degrees forward puts an extra 12kg force on your back muscles. At 30 degrees this increases to 18kg; at 45degrees it is 23kgs and at 60 degrees it is a massive 27kgs of extra force on your back and neck, this is the equivalent to a 10 year old child on your shoulders for over 8 hours of the day.
You are probably reading this on your phone or computer, if so, what position is your head in right now and how much unnecessary strain are you putting on your neck and back?
This increased load causes your muscles to become over worked and therefore painful, it also puts more pressure on particular parts of your vertebrae and intervertebral discs, which may cause them to become irritated and painful. Increased tension and changes in your anatomical positions through your lower back can lead to nerve issues such as Sciatica or Piriformis Syndrome and in your neck can lead to tension headaches and dizziness.
Can these effects be reversed?
Another thing we hear all the time is ‘there’s probably nothing that can be done”. Well the good news is, for the majority of cases you are able to reverse these effects and become pain free again.
As back pain is a chronic condition that has often been present for a significant period of time it doesn’t usually disappear overnight. However, if you commit to simple changes, you will start to see improvements. The key is committing to these changes and this starts with the simplest of changes i.e. making sure your desk or workspace is set up correctly. Ensure your computer screen is at the correct height; your chair is adjusted correctly in relation to your desk and your keyboard is in the correct position. This doesn’t just apply to your work environment. Take the next 2 days and whenever you are looking at something in your hands whether that’s a piece of technology or a book, think about the position of your head. If it is tilting forward, try to adjust your position so your head is in a neutral position to reduce the forces on your body.
What if I’m not getting any pain at the moment?
If you are one of the lucky ones whose back is in perfect working order, then we would urge you to keep it that way and think about preventing future problems.
Here are a couple of our top tips to keep you free of back pain or start your journey to become that way:
- Have your desk/workspace correctly set up with everything positioned correctly
- Keep a good posture for as much of the days as you can
- Take regular breaks from your computer screen, at least every hour
- Keep hydrated
What if you’re still in pain or want to speed up the improvement process?
At Moore Performance Ltd we carry out a thorough assessment to discover the cause of your back pain. We will then explain it in non-complicated language and suggest appropriate treatment methods to get you back to feeling pain free as soon as you can. If one of our treatment options is not appropriate then we will be happy to refer you on to the appropriate specialist.
If you would like to book in for an initial assessment please click here.
Alternatively, if you have any questions please fill out our contact form.
Pinola M. This is what looking down at your cell phone does to your spine. Lifehacker. http://lifehacker.com/this-is-what-looking-down-at-your-cell-phone-does-to-yo-1660637854. Accessed Aug 1, 2017.
Hansraj KK. Assessment of stresses in the cervical spine caused by posture and position of the head. Neuro and Spine Surgery. Surgical Technology International XXV. https://cbsminnesota.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/spine-study.pdf. Accessed Aug 1, 2017.
The national Ofcom Study – https://www.ofcom.org.uk/research-and-data
National office of statics – https://www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk