Although not normally representative of a serious medical condition, back pain can be very debilitating and change an individual’s quality of life as well as impacting upon working life and close relationships with family and friends.
There are many causes of back pain such as overuse of muscles, poor posture or incorrect lifting or twisting. Sometimes there is no apparent cause and people can suddenly just have symptoms. The best way is to avoid back problems occurring in the first instance and looking after your back if you are expected to stand for long periods will have a significant impact on your back health.
Prolonged standing is unnatural to humans, as it puts pressure on joints of the spine with limited movement, and requires muscles to be strained for extended periods of time without rest. Both of these factors increase your risk of back injury or strain. People also instinctively want to sit down to rest or during periods of concentration and denying these rest periods can be harmful to your back.
How you stand can have an important effect on your back health and help you to maintain a good posture. To check if your posture is correct try the following:
- Keep your chest high, with your shoulders back and relaxed;
- Support your weight on the balls of your feet instead of your heels.
- Keep your feet parallel and spaced at about shoulder-width apart, with knees slightly bent
Posture will improve if you are flexible so incorporate stretches into your weekly routine and try to stretch regularly throughout the day.
Think about footwear; high heels alter the alignment of your back and can cause additional pressure
Find opportunities to sit and move about during the working day and take regular breaks.
Strengthen and stretch the muscles that support you to stand all day such as your abdominal and back muscles; this should improve your posture too.