Simple ways to ward off the modern-day triggers of back pain…

MORE people in the UK are experiencing back or neck pain each week than they were five years ago, according to new research from the British Chiropractic Association (BCA).

The consumer research, which looked at trends from the past five years, revealed the number of people experiencing back or neck pain on a weekly basis has risen from 40% to 49%. Moreover, two thirds (65%) of us now experience back or neck pain each month, up 16% over the same period.

The findings also show that most common triggers of back or neck pain, according to people experiencing the condition, have changed.

The number of people who reported sitting still for long periods of time as a trigger for their back or neck pain has risen from a third (35%) to almost half (45%). This is reflected by the number of people who blame their jobs for their back or neck pain, with a fifth now pointing to work as a key trigger.

Sport and exercise have also made it in the top five triggers, pushing aside housework and DIY. Sleeping remains a key trigger, particularly for women, with 11% more reporting this as a cause of their back or neck pain than men.

While the rates of back or neck pain have fallen slightly for both genders, women remain 7% more likely to experience the condition.

45% say that sitting still for long periods of time is a trigger for back or neck pain

Catherine Quinn, President of the British Chiropractic Association, said: “Back pain is a relatively common condition which is usually not serious and can be easily prevented, so these findings should come as a wake-up call to all of us! That sport and exercise make it into the top five triggers for back pain concerns me as staying active is one of the best ways to stay strong and reduce your chances of back pain. In my experience, back pain from sport often comes when people do not take time to build up their intensity and instead lift the heaviest weight they can find or go straight on a 10K run when they are not ready. NHS programmes such as the “Couch to 5K” are great ways for people to gradually build up their activity levels.”

There are a number of simple steps everyone can take to protect themselves from some of the most commons triggers of back and neck pain and combat the effects of sitting still for long periods. Those who are experiencing back or neck pain on a weekly basis should consider incorporating more exercise and general movement into your routine where you can.


Catherine Quinn shares her top tips for preventing regular back or neck pain:

Take a break

When sitting for long periods of time, whether you’re at work, driving or catching up on box sets, ensure you stand up and move around every 30 minutes. Simple activities such as stretching and shoulder shrugging can also help to keep your body moving when you’re sitting for longer periods of time.

Stay active

Physical activity can be beneficial for managing back pain, as a stronger body can cope better with the demands you make of it. However, if this is of a moderate to high intensity, it’s important that you warm up and down properly to get your body ready to move! If a previous injury is causing you pain, adapt your exercise or seek advice. Activities such as swimming, walking or yoga can be less demanding on your body while keeping you mobile.

Work in comfort

When at work, make sure your desk is set up to support a comfortable position. This is different for everyone so if you don’t feel comfortable in your current set up, try altering the height of your chair or screen.

Don’t strain your neck!

The head is a heavy weight, so sitting with it forward of your body when using smartphones or tablets can put unnecessary strain on your neck and back. When using this technology, try keeping your head straight above your body, or position your screen in front of you so you’re not compelled to look down.

Straighten Up

The BCA has created a programme of three minute exercises, Straighten Up UK, which can be slotted in to your daily schedule to help prevent back pain by promoting movement, balance, strength and flexibility in the spine. If you are experiencing pain for more than a few days you should seek professional help, for example from a chiropractor, who can assess you and help you to get moving again without pain.

Article from TalkBack, Winter | 2018 (BackCare)

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