FEELING GREAT: Stop your job from being a pain

Human back with a visible pain.
Human back with a visible pain.
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If you are still at work, and plan to be for a few more years to come, let’s consider the impact your current job is having upon your health – because hidden inside every occupation there is a risk of injury or physical ill health.

Thing is, most people go to work every day blissfully unaware that what they do and the way they do it is making it very likely that they will suffer from some kind of physical ill health.

So let’s point a few out and see if you can avoid them:

Plumbers, bricklayers, joiners and plasterers are all aware of the likelihood of injuries to their wrists, backs or knees.

It comes with the territory and is obvious for all to see, as such tradesmen spend hours in awkward positions trying to fix things in your home, or on a building site.

But what about the not so obviously ‘harmful to health’ occupations?

What if your job is in admin and you sit at a desk all day, or maybe you’re a hairdresser or dentist who spends hours stooping over their clients? These jobs come with their dangers too.

What if you’re a health care worker, a nurse or a teacher?

You might be surprised to learn that such professionals are regular visitors to my physio clinic.

And here’s why: most people are aware of, or have been told about, the dangers of sitting in the wrong position for too long (ie slouching).

I bet that if you’ve ever worked in a big office, you’ve had countless ‘workstation assessments’ carried out, or you’ve had it pointed out by your health and safety person that you should be sitting upright in your chair with all your body parts at 90 degrees!

But what most people don’t realise is this: you’re more likely to suffer problems with your lower back in particular if you spend time standing and then lean forward, or bend for a sustained period. And it doesn’t have to be for very long.

When a health care worker or nurse is leaning over a bed to attend to a sick patient, or a teacher leans forward to help his or her pupils, it’s at that point that they are at the most risk of a lower back injury.

See, your spine has to work nearly a third harder than in any other position when you lean forward.

And if you’re doing this every day, without being aware of it, you’re almost certain to suffer with back pain at some point.

It nearly always occurs in your 50s or 60s because of the compound effect of doing it so often for so long.

In a profession like teaching, particularly if you’re educating the very young, you could have problems in the lower back area for many years because of a frequent need to stand and lean, coupled with long periods spent sitting at a desk marking books, and even sitting with pressure on your knees in a twisted position (as so many do).

And by the way, sitting on your knees like this is VERY bad for you!

The cumulative effect of doing it every day will often be the reason a teacher will suffer back pain or chronic knee problems somewhere in their 40s or 50s, meaning they will be less active in their 60s.

So, the moral of the story is this: whatever your profession, or however you make a living, if you’re spending 8-10 hours a day doing the same thing, it pays to make sure you’re aware of the health implications of doing it and the negative impact it might be having upon your health.

More importantly, learn what you can be doing to avoid it (or change it) so that you can remain as active and as healthy as possible in your 50s, 60s and beyond.

There’s a free report on how to ease low back pain that you can download at www.paulgoughphysio.com/back-pain