The burden of remote work – back pain is an increasingly common problem during the pandemic


According to a survey conducted for Benefit Systems on the Ariadna panel at the end of March, as many as 86% of Poles experience back pain, more than half of them struggle with this problem at least once a week and 13% indicate that back pain increased during the pandemic. Experts emphasise that a change in lifestyle – limited physical activity and remote work in a non-ergonomic position at the computer – has a huge impact on this situation.

According to the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) data, in the first three quarters of 2020 Poles spent almost 7.4 million days on sick leave due to back pain, which is more than in the entire 2019 or 2018.

– In the home environment, in which many of us have been performing their professional duties for a year now, we do not always have a desk or a properly profiled chair to support the correct position of the spine during work. If, during prolonged sitting, our posture is incorrect, i.e. we have a hunched back, our head is put forward, or we even assume a reclining position, we risk a huge pressure on the spine. Over time, these overloads change into pain in the lower or cervical spine. The hunched position will also put pressure on our internal and respiratory organs. In addition, headaches may appear in such a situation – explains Justyna Jędrysek, physiotherapist and motor preparation trainer.

Meanwhile, when working remotely, many people sit on a comfortable sofa with a laptop on their laps, unaware of the negative consequences for their bodies.

– It is worth remembering that the forward tilt of the torso alone means that the lumbar spine can be affected by a load of over 200 kg. Tilting the head at an angle of only 60 degrees results in a cervical spine load of 27 kg. Imagine those eight hours of work with five 5-litre bottles of water around the neck – this is the burden that our spine struggles with. It is the overload of the spine that is currently the leading cause of back pain, especially among young people. During the pandemic, the number of patients reporting such problems to physiotherapists is steadily increasing and the current recommendations for remote work may intensify this tendency even more – emphasises the physiotherapist.

The more uncomfortable it gets, the healthier it is
The MultiSport Index report shows that during the pandemic one in three Poles spend at least seven hours a day sitting down.

– If we work while sitting at the computer, we should remember about frequent position changes. To make it easier, try using the floor. The computer can then be placed on a chair. Sitting on the floor is much less comfortable and the hard surface encourages us to change positions more often so we get motivated to move more, engaging different muscle groups at the same time. This form of work improves the hydration and health of the spine. If we want to take care of our spine holistically, we should also think about active breaks during work. Already 10 minutes of basic exercises, such as bends or squats, can bring relief to our spine – encourages Piotr Czyżewski, sports trainer of the MultiSport Programme and expert of the Zdrowie na Etacie (Health Full Time) Programme.

What does healthier sitting on the floor look like? Watch a short video with some examples:  https://vimeo.com/530848561

Physical activity does matter
According to the survey on the Ariadna panel, 30% of people who do not engage in physical activity experience back pain every day or almost every day. Meanwhile, a scientific analysis published in the “American Journal of Epidemiology” shows that regular exercise reduces the risk of pain in the lower back by up to 33%.

– Physical activity has a positive effect on the entire muscular system by strengthening, among others, abdominal muscles, buttocks, and deep muscles supporting the spine, which play a significant role in maintaining the correct posture. It is worth remembering that the physical activity should be varied. On the one hand, we want to strengthen the muscles, but on the other hand, it is worth stretching them. After a day of work in a sitting position, a yoga or stretching session will do us good – says Piotr Czyżewski.

During the pandemic, Poles are more and more willing to look for activities supporting the health of the spine – also at home. The two most popular online workouts on the Yes2Move platform include yoga and the Healthy Spine training series which can be used free of charge at
The survey on the Ariadna panel was conducted for Benefit Systems on 19-22 March 2021 using the CAWI method on the nationwide random-quota sample of 1,085 people over 18 years of age. The quotas were selected according to the representation in the population for gender, age, and size of the place of residence.

 

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Media Contact:
Agnieszka Bemowska
Senior PR Specialist
517172559 | a.bemowska@benefitsystems.pl

 

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