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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How can I prevent back pain

    I sometimes get back pain from sitting at the computer, what can I do.
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    Osteopathy Australia is the peak body representing the interests of osteopaths, osteopathy as a profession and consumer's right to access osteopathic services. Osteopathy Australia represents … View Profile

    There are certain positions where excess load is placed upon muscles, ligaments, joints etc, which may lead to back pain or discomfort if repeated, day in, day out.

    For those of us who work at desks, this is especially important as we spend most of our day sitting. Across the course of the day, muscles get tired and are less able to keep up sitting upright, and we end up slouching.

    If we’re going to get our workspace to work for us, we want to avoid letting our devices encourage us to slouch when we don’t need to. For instance, laptops are shocking because they bring our hands away from our body and drag our head and neck down to look at the screen.

    As a general rule, our elbows should be close to our body and bent at about 90 degrees (not stretched out, reaching for the keyboard!)

    • Eyes should be at the height of the screen, which should be about arm’s distance away from your face.
    • The mouse should be close to your body so that your arms can be nice and relaxed whilst using it!
    • To reduce low back pain whilst sitting, some people like to include a foot rest under their desk.

    There's more information on ergonomics here - http://www.wellbeing.com.au/blog/three-ergonomic-mistakes-make/

    To prevent general back pain, it’s very important to keep mobile, introduce gentle exercises and to slowly build up to strengthening activities. The classic example is to get out and get walking. It’s cheap, and easy, and you can slowly increase your distance and pace as you get comfortable. Cycling, aquatic exercises such as swimming and aerobics are also great non-weight bearing exercises to consider as well.  

    Also:

    - Keep well hydrated. Sip water frequently, and don’t guzzle infrequently.  Excessive water consumption in a short period, combined with excess tea and coffee drinking may increase urinary output and promote dehydration.

    - Eat sufficient protein to help repair tissue

    - Ensure you have a supportive mattress. Research has shown that the best mattress for low back pain is a medium-firm mattress rather than a hard one. It'll support your spine and help avoid a drop in the centre of the mattress, but not be too uncomfortable on exposed joints like the shoulders, hips and knees. There is a difference between "firm support" and "firm feel"; you want firm support with a comfortable feel.

    Keep well,

    Osteopathy Australia

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