Don’t be a tech neck: Top tips for staving off back pain

I’ve written an article for the Express newspaper, reproduced below:

Don’t be a tech neck: Top tips for staving off back pain

NECK

A pain in the neck is the curse of many office workers who sit at a desk for long periods of the day with bad posture.

We often use the term “tech neck” to describe the condition of people who suffer neck and upper back pain due to poor workstation design that forces them to look down with their shoulders hunched up over a keyboard. Good posture and better workstation ergonomics will help alleviate this pain.

Sit in your chair properly with your lower back supported as much as possible by a back rest and a lumbar support pad or a rolled up towel.

The screen should be positioned one arm’s length away from you and aligned with your body so you’re facing it straight, with the top of the screen at eye level.

Devices such as the back PostureMinder (£29.99, selected Boots stores, boots.com and backpainhelp.com) will help you maintain posture by detecting if you’re in a poor sitting position. It reminds you to sit properly, take breaks and exercise regularly.

SHOULDERS

This type of pain is also common among office workers and those who drive a lot, such as sales reps or HGV drivers.

Sitting in the same position for hours on end is the cause of much of it.

Drivers should sit upright with their head supported by the headrest so they can comfortably see all mirrors.

Your mirrors can be used as a guide to make sure the correct posture is maintained. Do not sit too far away from the wheel as you will round your shoulders if you have to overreach.

The wheel should be level with your wrists and when you hold it, there should be a slight bend in your arms.

When you stop at traffic lights, move your neck and shoulders to loosen those tense muscles and to help improve your circulation.

MIDDLE BACK

This is usually suffered by those who sit a lot such as office workers.

But middle back pain can also affect youngsters who carry heavy bags on one shoulder and breastfeeding mums. Improving your posture while sitting will work wonders.

Loads should always be carried on the back evenly in a rucksack.

Breastfeeding mothers should use special supportive pillows that help bring the baby to the breast rather than the breast to the baby.

LOWER BACK

Those with physical jobs mostly suffer from lower back pain, such as nurses and care workers who do a lot of lifting and plumbers who often work in awkward positions.

Shop workers on their feet all day also suffer pain in this area.

Learning good lifting techniques will help as will strengthening your core muscles to ensure your back is supported while you lift.

It’s hard to maintain the perfect posture while you’re working but if you’re twisting and bending, remember to take breaks and move in the opposite direction to counter this. Stand on both feet and not with your weight on one leg.

PELVIS

Sacroiliac or pelvic hip pain is less common and is usually associated with slips and falls or having a baby.

Athletes suffer from this type of pain. However the sacroiliac joint is relatively stable so doesn’t cause as much strain or stress.

It’s important to have strong bottom muscles as these support the joints in the pelvis. Any misalignment of the pelvis should be corrected by a physiotherapist and a support belt can be used around the hips to ease the pain.

Most back pain can be alleviated by applying heat, moving around and stretching, followed by rest and support with a brace or belt.

It usually gets better of its own accord but see a physiotherapist or your GP if symptoms persist.

For more back pain advice visit backpainhelp.com

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