Reducing back pain in the workplace

The back is a complicated mechanism. The spine has 33 bones (some of them fused together) and 23 discs. In addition, there are muscles, tendons and nerves. The whole system has to work in perfect unison or we are left with aches and pains. It is therefore no wonder that approximately 80 percent of all adults in the UK will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives. So, what can we do about this? And more importantly, how can we reduce back pain in the workplace?

Activities that can cause back pain in the workplace

Unfortunately, the work place is not always the best place for our backs. Even though conditions have vastly improved in recent years due to strict legislation, there are many jobs that are prone to causing back aches and pains.

  • Working all day on a computer
  • Regular heavy lifting
  • Having to bend over to provide treatment such as massage therapists or beauticians
  • Long distance driving
  • Repetitive tasks, especially those that involve repeated twisting, stretching or reaching
  • Working with vibrating heavy machinery

This list is not exhaustive but shows that a wide range of activities can cause backpain in today’s workforce.

What can we do about back pain

Prevention is, of course, better than cure. This is also true for backpain in the workplace. If we can create a work environment and a lifestyle that promotes back health, we will be in a much better position long-term.

  • Regular exercise will strengthen those back muscles and make back aches and pains less likely
  • You could try yoga at your desk. Here is a video that shows you how:

  • It is important to have a good posture, especially for your back. Improve your posture by holding your back straight and your shoulders back. Don’t cross your legs if you’re sitting down. This might feel comfortable in the moment but twists your hips and puts them out of alignment and puts unnecessary strain on your back.
  • Take regular breaks. Don’t stay in the same position for too long to avoid muscle strain.
  • You could also try a standing desk such as this one, if you work at a computer.
  • If you’re overweight, lose those extra pounds. Excess weight can put an immense strain on your spine which has to hold your body upright.

What can employers do

Employers have a legal obligation to keep their employees safe and injury free. This includes minimising the risks related to the work you’re carrying out such as moving heavy objects or working in less than ideal conditions. Back pain in the workplace may not be avoided completely, but there are many things that can be done to minimise the risk.

If your job requires manual handling, your employers need to provide training so that you learn to do your job safely without the risk of injury. Health and safety regulations must be put in place to keep you safe from harm and injury.

Employers can also use an occupational health provider. This is usually an outside consultant, providing help, advice and training for both employers and employees on many issues affecting employees’ health issues.

Work Well Practice are an occupational health provider. We work together with employers to improve general health in the workplace by providing training as well as affordable alternative healthcare. Work Well Practice can conduct a wellbeing audit in your company, create an action plan and follow-up to work together with the employer and employees. If you would like to find out more, please contact either Sam Culshaw-Robinson on 075 222 777 22 or Chu Kat Martindale on 0115 837 8080. You can also email us at .

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