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October 23, 2015

What a Pain in the Back

As I begin to write this blog post, I realize I’m the epitome of what “NOT” to do when it comes to posture and back pain: I sit hunched over my desk, which is where I’ve been for several hours, without a break or change in position.backache 72 dpi

Fortunately I’m still young-ish and have an opportunity to fix things. And I should try, because the statistics are startling: back pain is a common problem among adults affecting up to 80% of people at least once in their lifetime. Moreover, the cost of medical expenditures alone for low back pain are estimated between $6 and $12 billion annually with additional costs associated with the impact on society due to the loss in worker productivity from time off work and the associated disability payments.

It seems though there are three main causes for back pain across Canada:

  • Our aging population
  • Our growing waistlines
  • Our increasingly sedentary lifestyles

There’s obviously nothing we can do about our aging population (although my fingers are crossed for the miracle elixir to be on store shelves soon!) but the other two factors are definitely preventable.

To keep our BMI (which is our Body Mass Index, a way to calculate our weight in proportion to our height, age and sex) down, the simple solution is to eat sensibly and maintain a level of physical activity for at least 15-30 minutes a day (although we all know it’s not “that” simple especially this time of year with pumpkin pie and candy corn…but we can at least try)!

But other than changing your career to become a landscaper or mechanic, how else does one “prevent” the sedentary action of sitting at your computer all day? Stats show that over 75% of workers sit for long periods of time – so this affects most people.

First and foremost – take breaks. Instead of sending an email or picking up the phone to your colleague who literally sits 100 feet away from you, walk over! It is said that a 5-minute break every hour is better for the health and safety of workers. Posture at your desk is also very important, and so is the design of your workstation. And if you have an open (and perhaps private if you prefer) space at your office, you can try some quick back and core strengthening exercises – it’s said that training your core muscles is extremely important in stabilizing and sparing undue stress on the spine.

In the long run, taking on these simple tactics and minor changes are definitely worth preventing years of lower back pain and anguish in the future. I know I’ll try it!