SUFFERING from back pain? You’re certainly not alone getting those painful twinges.
Research commissioned by Mind Your Back, a national campaign to help manage and prevent back pain, has revealed that as many as one in seven Brits suffer from back pain most days, with six in ten saying it affects their health and wellbeing.
But what’s causing this back pain?
“Poor posture is a huge contributor to back pain, even more so in recent years with the rise of working from home, and often, working from the sofa, bed, or kitchen table,” says Physiotherapist Sammy Margo from mindyourbackuk.com.
Luckily, there are some easy tweaks that can be made to ensure your day to day positions are a little more back friendly.
Are you guilty of any of these back breaking postures?
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1. Sitting hunched over the steering wheel
“Prolonged hunching while sitting in the driving seat can cause your back, core and abdominal muscles to become strained and painful, reducing their blood supply,” says Sammy.
“Sitting forward and hunching over the wheel, as well as remaining in one position for a long period of time, can really impact your spinal health.”
Protect your spine when driving by ensuring your hips are back in the seat, and knees just slightly lower than hips. You might need to adjust your seat a little for this.
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“Ensure that your eye level is significantly above the steering wheel and have your seat so it’s ever so slightly leaning back and not completely upright at a 90 degree angle. Take regular breaks too,” adds Sammy.
2. Slumped at a desk
With working from home now a common occurrence, it’s likely that desk postures are far from ideal.
Even office work spaces may not be set up in an ideal way to protect your spine.
Support the health of your neck and spine by aiming to sit with your ear, shoulder and hip in line, with shoulders rested.
“Try sitting with your bottom against the back of a chair and feet flat on the floor and aim to have your screen right in front of you at eye level,” says Sammy.
3. Staring down at your phone
So many of us will walk around staring down at a phone in our hand. However, this can increase our risk of tech-neck.
“When standing to look at your phone, including when you are in a queue for example, aim to have your ear, shoulder, hip, and ankle in line.
“Try standing with your back against a wall to get the idea of the good position for your posture,” says Sammy.
“As for checking your phone, see if you can avoid looking down at it as you walk.
“Instead, wait until you’re sitting or standing comfortably in the best position for posture and look at a screen at eye level.”
4. Falling asleep on the sofa
Long day? It’s easy to get a little comfortable on the sofa after work and find yourself drifting off.
“Falling asleep on the sofa is tempting! And it’s common to wake with a ‘crick in your neck’ due to poor sleeping posture,” says Sammy.
“The best sleep position, when lying on your side, involves being supported in accordance with the natural curve to help ensure good spine alignment.
“A flatter pillow can help with this. Try placing a pillow between your legs (if you sleep on your side) or under your knees (if you sleep on your back).”
5. Sleeping on your stomach
When you sleep at night, your positioning can really impact your spinal health.
“Sleeping on your stomach is by far the worst position for your back health.
“It's particularly bad for your spine if you're turning your head to one side to breathe,” reveals Sammy.
She says that keeping the neck in a twisted position all night can lead to neck pain from muscle strains.
“A twisted head and neck can lead to pain in the neck, shoulders, and upper back.
“Stomach sleeping also puts pressure on your knee joints, which are pointed downward into the mattress, and it holds your feet in an unnatural position.”
If you can’t sleep unless you’re on your stomach, Sammy recommends keeping your head straight to relieve the pressure on your neck.
“Placing a firm pillow under your forehead can create enough space for you to breathe when your head is facing down.
“A firm pillow under the abdomen can also help to keep the spine straight,” she suggests.
6. Leaning on one leg
It might be more comfortable to stand and place more weight on one side of your body than the other by leaning on one leg, however, this can place excessive pressure on one side of your lower back and hip.
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“Over time you may develop muscle imbalances around your pelvis area, which can cause strain and pain in your lower back and buttocks.
“To improve this posture, get into the habit of standing with your weight evenly distributed on both legs,” says Sammy.
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