‘Back’ to basics: protect your posture in Back Care Awareness Week

It’s estimated that up to eight out of 10 people in the UK are affected by back pain at some point in their lives, according to NHS figures. And, unfortunately, months of working from home due to the coronavirus pandemic has been very bad for our back health, with poor home office set-ups and a lack of exercise contributing to further problems. 

A survey by the Institute of Employment Studies during the first two weeks of lockdown showed a significant rise in musculoskeletal complaints, with more than half of those who responded reporting new aches and pains. The poll revealed an increase of 58% for neck problems,  56% for shoulder pain and 55% for back issues, compared to pre-lockdown conditions.

This week is Back Care Awareness Week, a chance to focus on posture and get ‘back’ to basics. Here, our Senior Manager Martin Ricketts gives his tips for improving your  musculoskeletal health:

1. Sofa, not so good 

However tempting it might seem, try to avoid working from your sofa at home. You’ll inevitably end up slumped or hunched over, putting significant strain on your shoulders and neck. Whether you clear a corner of the kitchen table when the children have gone to school or even transform your bedroom dressing table, nothing beats a flat surface and a chair – preferably an ergonomic one, offering the right support.

2. Move it

Sitting in the same position, whether at home or in your usual place of work, for hours every day can be a real pain – literally! Take time to get up and move around, whether when waiting for the kettle to boil during your tea break or by stepping outside for five minutes every hour. Do some simple lunging and stretching exercises and notice where your pressure points are. 

3. Make a stand

In recent years, standing desks or stations have become popular amongst many employees. Research on the health benefits is still in the early stages, but initial studies show that standing while you work may reduce back pain, as well as lower blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of heart disease. A range of adjustable desks and desktop stations is available, while, if you’re on a budget, your ironing board will do just as well! 

4. Walk this way

One of the benefits of working from home is that, without the daily commute, many of us are finding we have more time during the day. Avoid the all-too-easy trap of simply working for longer and allocate time to go for a walk at lunchtime or when you switch off your laptop. Not only will it do wonders for your body, but a good stroll allows time to decompress mentally, too, switching between ‘work’ and ‘home’ and boosting your emotional wellbeing and coping mechanisms.

5. Don’t forget the physio  

Physiotherapy not only sorts out back pain when it arises, but regular sessions can help keep those little niggles from escalating in the first place. Many private and NHS physios are now offering face-to-face sessions again following advice from the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, and our health plans give you cash back each time you receive a treatment. Find out more about our health plan benefits here.

6. The rest is simple

Lockdown, restricted measures and anxiety have made 2020 one of the most difficult years many of us have experienced, and it’s never been more important to rest and recharge. Ensure every day includes 20 minutes of ‘me time’ – whether having a soak in a bubble bath, reading a good book or doing a mindful activity such as colouring. When life is stressful, a rest can be far better than a change – for your musculoskeletal and your mental health!

At Plutus Health, we’ve been helping members in our community manage their health for nearly 200 years! Find out more about our full range of dental, optical, complementary therapy and hospital benefits, which start from just over £2 per week, and get in touch with our team on 01633 226152 / admin@plutushealth.co.uk.

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