Sit up straight! – Why you should tackle back pain early on

Whether you are sitting at a desk all day or doing a more physical job there is a certain amount of stress placed on your spine. One in five employees reports that their daily commute puts a strain on their back. At some point in our lives most of us will have back pain for one reason or another. According to the Office for National Statistics 31 million days of work were lost in 2013 due to back neck and muscle problems. To put that figure in context it is 4 million days more than were lost due to minor illness like coughs and colds.

The Work Foundation published a report last year discussing ways in which employees can manage musculoskeletal conditions to enable them to remain or return to work. The findings demonstrated many ways in which individuals self-manage their condition at work. This included initiatives such as pacing oneself, and taking the necessary rest, by either readjusting how they performed their working day, or recovering from work by resting at home and foregoing leisure activities.

Many individuals had made more drastic adjustments to their working lives in order to provide themselves with enough time to rest. Such adjustments included working part time, working from home, becoming self employed, or taking jobs below their qualification level which would be less strenuous. Beyond these adjustments, some individuals also had adjustments made to their workstation in some form of ergonomic equipment, while some had also limited more manual aspects of their job or developed their career in order that their role did not involve things, which put too much pressure on their joints.

Reading the findings of the Work Foundation’s report puts a different spin on workplace ergonomics and those niggling aches that aren’t quite bad enough to go get looked at. Minor back aches can easily develop into more serious problems, which have a tendency of becoming chronic. Considering the above measures that some employees have to go to simply in order to remain in work should be enough motivation to make the small changes in the daily routine that prevent back pain – even just to sit up straighter! As easy as it is to aggravate a back problem, it can also be relieved quickly by strengthening and stretching exercises or simply by improving your posture.

As employers, companies should make sure that they keep a close eye on employees who take time off due to back problems. An early intervention and advice about how to manage the back pain can save both the employee and the company many painful days of absence. Engage is a great tool for highlighting potential high-risk cases from day one!