With a reported 80 per cent of office workers not leaving the office all day and only 28 per cent taking a lunch break*, Londoner’s are experiencing heightened stress, back pain, weight gain and postural weakness. Learning the why and how of strength training is vital to pain-free and healthy living.
Musculoskeletal problems are the second most common reason for work absence (including back pain, neck and upper limb problems) a total of 30.8 million days** If you manage a business it’s important to invest in your team’s health and wellbeing whilst helping to reduce absence due to back pain.
Whether you’re into your fitness or not it won’t have escaped many of us that poor posture is one of the biggest causes of back pain amongst the modern office dweller.
At one end of the spectrum we have mild lumbar pain caused by sitting incorrectly. At the other end of the extreme we have poor posture feeding into lumbar disc degeneration causing all sorts of unpleasant referred pain down through the glutes and legs. If we add long term disfunction you could end up on the operating slab undergoing everything from a discectomy, whereby they trim a bulging portion of a disc, all the way through to spinal fusion.
We are not suggesting slouching in your chair at work is going to lead to surgical intervention, but it may start you on the road to some troubles. Similarly, if you’re a gym goer it’s important to have good form when lifting, and bracing the trunk correctly etc to avoid long term problems.
Here at PerformancePro we work in a symbiotic relationship with our colleagues in the clinical physio team, Oxford Circus Physiotherapy. As such, we can provide an integrated approach to rehabilitation back into strength based gym work as well as ensuring day to day you’re in a correct position at your desk by carrying out an ergonomic work station assessment.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to the management of back pain, there however are some very well researched protocols that form the foundation of most of the work we do with clients with recurrent back pain. As prescribed by Professor Stuart McGill a leading researcher in pack pain and its prevention and rehab, PerformancePro use the basics; side plank, abdominal bracing and super man (bird dog). This sounds simple, but executed using the correct protocol we can induce huge amounts of fatigue and start to build the strength endurance that your trunk needs and in most cases has lost due to bad posture or sedentary living.
In conjunction with the basic protocols to start building strength in the trunk, which in itself will go a long way to attenuating back pain, we also start to look at the thoracic or upper spin. Often slumped and over arch forward, known as kyphotic, the thoracic spine and its position exerts a big influence on everything that goes on below it. As such we will start to mobilise the thoracic spine into extension using simple exercises such as cobras, lying over a roller and arm sliding drills on the wall. The wall sliding drills will also help to create the correct coordination between arm and scapular. With improved mobility we also use pulling exercises that will get the musculature on the back (posterior chain) working and getting stronger. This in turn helps to hold us upright and in good posture.
With bad posture and back pain there is rarely a quick fix. However, with just a little dedication and persistent consistency outcomes can be very good. The default position for most people with back pain is ‘do nothing’ and ‘don’t move’. Sometimes this is the initial course of action but in most, correct movement with appropriate exercise will get things on the right path.
So as you can see there are quite a few links in the chain BUT they are all very straight forward and simple to execute, they just need to be done. Obviously if an individual , for example, is suffering a serious degeneration of a lumbar disc surgery may be necessary however avoiding surgery by giving a full rehab programme a go first is always worth trying.
Below are a couple of links to some clients who have worked with the team here at PerformancePro to overcome their back issues.
*Winter 2019 study by UK snack brand