It's thought that 4 out of every 5 adults will experience back pain at some point in their life and over 70% of the UK’s 7 million unpaid carers now suffer from back pain. This puts carers at greater risk of developing ongoing chronic pain, which is highly disabling in a third of cases and can also be life-long. For this reason, BackCare Awareness Week 2016 is dedicated to ‘Caring for Carers’.
There are a number of ways in which carers can reduce the risk of developing back pain, here are a few:
Care for your back
Driving can trigger back pain, particularly if going long distances. When driving to appointments or running errands, adjust the seat before setting off to eliminate straining when reaching the wheel or pedals. A lumbar roll placed in the small of the back can a provide support and wearing comfortable, flat shoes can help stop cramp and minimise any pressure on the ankles. Try to keep shoulders loose and relaxed whilst driving.
If pushing or lifting, it's important to prepare your back to stop you straining or pulling any muscles. When lifting, make sure the knees are bent and keep the weight of the person close to your body. Try not to twist your spine but let it move as it needs to. If able, distribute the weight being carried evenly in your hands.
Improve your posture
Poor posture can increase the risk of back problems by putting extra strain on the back. This can affect muscles, ligaments, tendons and vertebrae and in the long term, can cause painful problems such as muscle, joint and disc damage as well as constricted vessels and nerves.
Being aware of how you are sit and stand can greatly improve your posture. When standing, keep your head facing forward and your back straight. When sitting, make sure you are upright with your knees and hips level and your feet flat on the floor or on a footstool. Be careful not to hunch your shoulders or slump in your chair and if sitting for long periods of time, be sure to keep your back well supported using the back of the chair.
Order a BackCare Awareness Week Pack here.