Top tips for looking after your back

Back pain

We know that being inactive and having a sedentary lifestyle can increase our risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) with many of us failing to meet the recommended guidelines of 150 minutes of physical activity each week and sitting for prolonged periods of time at work and during our leisure time.

But it can also increase your risk of back pain and with lots of us spending increasingly long hours at work, it’s really important to be proactive about how we can contribute to back pain prevention in the workplace and the negative impact it can have on staff health and on your business’ bottom line.

We’ve put together a list of activities you can carry out in your workplace to raise awareness of back care and help staff look after their backs.

1. Get active

Staying active is one of the best ways of preventing and managing back pain. Activities such as swimming, yoga and Pilates will increase your fitness and strengthen your muscles. There are loads of ideas for getting staff active on our website or you can promote these useful exercises which staff can do in their own time at work or at home.

2. Tackle stress

Not all stress is bad but, according to BackCare, stress is the most consistent predictor of back pain.

BackCare say:

"The evidence supports the idea that back pain is one of the most common forms of somatisation. ‘Somatisation’ is the technical name for the very common process through which psychological stress causes physical symptoms. Put simply, the body functions differently in the context of stress."

By creating a culture of wellbeing in your workplace, you can reduce your staff’s risk of back pain while reducing their risk of cardiovascular disease. Discover all our tips on reducing stress in your workplace on our website.

stress balls in workplaces

3. Think environment

Most of us spend long hours sitting at a desk and it’s really important for staff to understand how they should be positioning their equipment in relation to their body. Visit the NHS Choices website or use this factsheet on setting up your work station to learn more.

4. Encourage regular breaks

Breaking up long periods of sitting isn’t only going to reduce your staff’s sedentary behaviour (the amount of time they spend sitting or lying down while awake and that typically requires low energy expenditure) but will give muscles time to relax while others take the strain. Getting some fresh air, walking to facilities further away or encouraging standing meetings will all help. 

5. Include everyone

It’s not just those in the office sitting at their desks who suffer back pain. Jobs that require standing in the same position for prolonged periods of time can put stress on your back. Ensuring home workers have a good office set up is important and don’t forget staff who work remotely and spend long periods of time driving are at risk too.

It’s also important to make sure that anyone who is lifting or handling objects is doing so correctly.

Back Pain Guide

Back pain guide

Go to NHS Choices homepage