After research from Nuffield Health has revealed that 3 million workers are taking long-term sickness due to back pain, Nuffield Health Doctors are urging patients to help themselves and encouraging employers to ensure that relevant support is in place.

Here are six top tips they are offering employers and workers:

  1. Build regular exercise into your daily routine.Nuffield Health’s research showed that 74 percent of back pain sufferers lead sedentary lifestyles with little or no vigorous exercise, including walking. It also showed that more than a third (38%) of back pain sufferers are anxious about exercising for fear that it will make their problem worse. In actual fact, regular exercise is one of the most important things people can do to alleviate back pain. Try to make sure you are active on a daily basis with activities such as walking, swimming and yoga. Even seemingly trivial amounts of exercise – like taking the stairs rather than the lift or going for a walk at lunchtime – can make a big difference.
  2. Make sure you are taking regular breaks at work.The survey also revealed that 64 percent of back pain sufferers don’t take regular short breaks at work which could be making their pain worse. Keeping mobile and remaining active, even if it causes some discomfort, can speed up recovery. Workers should aim to move around every 30 minutes, be it standing up on the phone, making themselves a drink or going to speak to a colleague rather than sending an email, it all helps to keep our backs in good health.
  3. Set up your workstation correctly:Of those surveyed, over half (51%) revealed that they spend the majority of their working week either sitting at a desk or driving in the car. Sitting for long periods of time can not only be detrimental to our health, but also our posture. Setting up a work station correctly can help to ensure that the back is supported correctly which can help to avoid back pain. Contact your HR team if you would like them to carry out an assessment of your working environment.
  4. Pay attention in high risk jobs:  Over three quarters (77%) who drive long distances for work suffer back pain – the highest in the UK – while 56 percent of manual labourers and nearly four out of ten (38%) with desk jobs have lower back pain.
  5. Get support from your employer.Nearly two thirds (64%) of the people surveyed said that their workplace doesn’t provide any kind of support or advice to help them with their problem, however, many employers offer services such as gyms, desk assessments and physiotherapy which can help to prevent back pain. Talk to them about how they can help you.
  6. Look after yourself.Poor diet and smoking all play a part in causing preventable back pain. Almost half (44%) of the total sample who said they were obese, also had back pain; while 51 percent of those with back pain smoked, compared to 20 percent of those who didn’t suffer from back pain.