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Back pain cited in fall in numbers working

Posted on the 24th February 2023

Back and Neck Pain

Back and neck pain are on the rise and contributing to the number of economically inactive in the UK.

Recent figures from the UK-based Office of National Statistics (ONS) have revealed neck and back complaints were the second-largest reason cited for people leaving the labour force in 2022.

With the sharp increase in the number of economically inactive being partly blamed on poor ergonomics, there are steps we can all take to improve our posture and reduce back pain.

Set the phone down!

For many, phone use is constant and so persistent that it now even has its own term for the effect it has on the user – Forward Head Posture.

To counter the negative impact of phone use, experts recommend a practice called ‘head ramping’ where the individual slides their head towards the wall behind them while lifting the top of their head towards the ceiling.

Get moving…

Humans have become more sedentary and sit for much longer periods of time.

While very few of us will be running a marathon every week, movement doesn’t need to be physically draining and can be as simple as a daily stroll or some stretching exercises.

…and keep moving!

While it may be very tempting to rest when suffering from back pain, the key to reducing it is to keep moving and stay active.

Add some weight

Fears that laptop bags, handbags and single-strap shoulder bags damage the back and shoulder have been debunked. Instead, some weight is now regarded as good for the back and spine as it strengthens muscles, discs and ligaments, making the area more resilient and less prone to injury.

Best foot forward

Many back and neck problems are a direct result of issues with the feet and ankles causing our legs to rotate internally.

To avoid this, shoes with laces or Velcro are recommended to hold the ankle firmly in place and it is best to avoid slip-on or very flat shoes for sustained periods of time.

Exercises that strengthen the ankles are also advised, along with annual foot check-ups.

Reach for the stars

To counter our increasingly sedentary living, stretches should be a daily activity for us all.

These don’t need to be overly energetic and should never be painful, and always be done on an exhale to ensure all the muscles are fully relaxed.

Change your posture

It can be all too easy to sit in the same position for hours at a time.

Make sure to change your posture every hour by walking away from the desk and sitting back down again.

Similarly, lazing on the sofa could be replaced by sitting cross-legged on the floor or stretching out on the floor.

Related: Poor sleep linked to chronic illnesses

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