Preventing back pain when returning to work

Preventure backache
Preventure backache | Image Kaboompics

Are you back in the office and noticing old pain creep up on you? And no we’re not talking about the fact that you’re having to actually go to the office now. We’re talking about those aches and pains that went away whilst working from home, because you set up an amazingly ergonomic workstation, but now they have reappeared.

Or maybe it’s the complete opposite and now that you are back in the office you find yourself in a lot less pain compared to working at home. Scott Coleman, Founder and CEO of Preventure and expert in sports medicine and physiotherapy shares with us his extensive knowledge and answers our questions when it comes to experiencing pain at work.

“Your workstation, whether it’s an office desk or your dining room table, is less about having the perfect A+ ergonomic setup, and more about understanding your own body, and personal circumstances” Scott said.

Scott recommends using a wearable posture sensor like Preventure’s ‘Office Coach’ product in order to track pain and discomfort, tight muscles and your productivity and focus. If you don’t have one, then a good place to start is by journaling either using a diary or your smartphone. Record your pain on a scale from 1-10 and ask yourself questions like these, recording your results at the end of each day.

● Where was I sitting while working at my computer today/what equipment was I using? (Standing desk, laptop, office chair vs. dining room chair etc.)
● How many breaks did I have/was I working in small bursts and getting up, or engrossed in a task for hours, barely moving?
● What were my activity levels today/did I exercise, walk the dog, or do some yoga? (Step count is good for this, and the Preventure back sensor captures this for you).
● What did I consume/too much coffee, not enough water?
● Overall, how productive and well did I feel/did I have any additional stresses?

“You can even rate each category 1-5 and look at overall daily scores. It doesn’t matter how you do it, what matters is understanding work patterns, how they correlate to your environment and how they affect YOU. When you start tracking these things, you will uncover some surprising patterns in your office vs. home scores, and be empowered to make positive changes.” Scott noted.

In terms of workplace ergonomics, Scott informs us that “Consistency is key, don’t put your body through any massive change. If you are working between home and the office, it’s important to have both your workspaces as similar as possible”.

Culture also affects our postural habits. Most of us move around more when we are working from home as opposed to in the office, and this could be due to worry about what our boss or colleagues will think of us getting up every 30 minutes. However, regular stretching is one of the best ways of avoiding injuries and illnesses at work. Studies have shown that prolonged sitting can increase your chances of being overweight, developing type 2 diabetes or heart disease and experiencing mental health issues like depression and anxiety. So, take the time to get up out of your chair for a couple of minutes every half an hour to either stretch, make a phone call or grab a cup of coffee. Remember to keep your body moving, and encourage your team to do the same.

“There are so many factors impacting ‘back to work’ pains, so the answer is really to give your employees access to all the tools they need to succeed, and feel well. It’s also really important that we continue to educate people on how the body works, and not just order them to make changes. By helping them understand what impact simple changes in workstation ergonomics, daily activity and postural habits are having on their health and wellbeing, you will get so much more engagement, and hopefully a much happier workforce.” Says Scott.