How Back and Neck Pain Can Impact Your Productivity and How You Can Reverse the Trend
If you suffer from occasional or chronic back and neck pain, you know how irritating it can be. Even when it’s not absolutely debilitating, the pain can slow you down, distract you and dampen your mood. And it’s not just the pain of a bad back; it’s the problem you have sleeping because of the pain, which can make you sluggish throughout the day. Thus, back and neck pain can also make you a less productive worker, which can hold you back in your career.
According to a recent article on Business Matters, the UK’s leading business information website, “about one in four employees in the United States … suffers from lower back pain.” The cost of this situation to businesses is estimated to be $51,400 annually “for every 100 employees due to low productivity as well as medical expenses,” as well as an additional “$34,600 for every 100 employees per year due to absenteeism and underperforming while at work.” Moreover, workers who suffer from low back pain are likely to miss for more days of work each year than their coworkers.
Unfortunately, stasis is not an option. When it comes to back problems, symptoms will either get better through focused attention and effort or worse due to neglect. The good news is, there are simple things you can do to correct the problem. Here is a short list of pointers to get you started:
- Take a critical look at your posture — The key to a healthy back and neck is posture, posture, posture. The crucial aspects of healthy posture are a gentle concave curve of the lower back, an open chest with a lifted sternum, relaxed shoulders and a C curve to your neck, allowing your head to rest comfortably. Your sitting posture should be just as erect as your standing posture.
- Adjust your desk chair — Are your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent at a ninety-degree angle? Do you maintain the lower curve to your back and sit with your shoulders above your hips? Is your computer keyboard at a level where your forearms rest parallel to your thighs and the floor? If not, you need to adjust the height of your chair. You might also want a lumbar pillow to support the natural curve in your lower back. Many workers often find it helpful to sit on a stability ball instead of a desk chair for at least part of the day.
- Elevate your monitor — Too many office workers have a low computer monitor that requires them to slouch or crane their neck forward. Sit in an erect position then trace a line from your eye to your monitor. That’s the level at which you should be reading. You may have to raise your monitor, then place a post-it at your line of sight on the frame of your monitor to remind you to work at that level.
- Elevate your work station — A standing desk has many health benefits; in addition to helping you maintain optimal posture, it improves circulation, which is great for heart health. You can request that your company get you an adjustable desk, so you can work at a standing position for part of the day.
- Take breaks away from your desk — An active back is a healthy back. Get up and walk around once an hour. Do some gentle backward stretches of your back and neck.
- Maintain your posture while commuting — Too many automobile seats are built to accommodate poor posture rather than reinforce good posture. Use a lumbar support while driving, and on cold days, use the seat warmer to prevent your muscles from tightening during your ride.
- Exercise with deference to your back and neck issues — Too many exercise programs ostensibly designed to condition the back actually exacerbate problems. Yoga is the classic example. It’s great for giving you a deep stretch of your muscles. But if your back or neck pain is due to a bulging disc, you’re going to further irritate the nerves. Whenever you exercise, maintain the natural curve of your neck and lower back. Backward bends are very helpful, because they allow your vertebrae to apply counterpressure on a bulge to reduce its size. Forward bends often have the opposite effect. The best way to put together an appropriate exercise program for a chronic neck or back issue is to speak to a trainer who is also a licensed physical therapist.
It’s important to realize that you don’t have to do a lot to make a big difference in your back health. For further guidance on strategies to improve your overall health, happiness and career productivity, talk to a Wellbeing Coach today.
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All information contained on this website are for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended to be taken as medical or other health advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or a qualified medical professional. IN THE CASE OF A MEDICAL EMERGENCY OR SUICIDAL THOUGHTS, IMMEDIATELY CALL 911.
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