Sitting at your desk could be bad for your health – so why not let your osteopath take the strain?
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Back, neck and muscle problems led to almost 31 million lost work days last year – four million more than the supposedly common cold.
According to the Office for National Statistics, musculoskeletal conditions have been the primary cause of absenteeism for the past five years, giving the UK one of the highest rates in Europe even though the workforce is now largely desk-based rather than involved in manual labour.
‘Occupational injuries account for many millions of working days lost each year in Britain,’ said a spokesman for the British Osteopathic Association. ‘No matter whether your work is in the office or outside on the land you need to be able to cope with the individual demands made on your body by the style of work you do.
‘Manual work inevitably carries the inherent risk of injury caused by heavy and often awkward lifting, overstretching, and periods of prolonged bending causing back and disc injuries, sciatica, and muscle strains.
‘In the office where desk work is more common, there are the dangers of ‘computer hump’ and ‘mouse wrist’, whilst frequent telephone use affects the neck and shoulders causing headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome.’
And those who drive for a living don’t get away scot free either. Their driving position affects not only their back, neck and shoulders but also their hips and feet.
So what should we do? Put our feet up (on the desk) and hope it’ll go away?
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‘Going to an osteopath demonstrates to your boss that you are taking an active role in trying to improve your health,’ said the BOA spokesman. ‘The osteopath will help you look at the style of work you are undertaking and help you find ways of improving the situation and how to prevent a recurrence of your injuries.’
Stand up for yourself
Other useful tips for keeping sick days to a minimum:
Frequent short breaks away from the desk and computer will help avoid back, neck and eye strain.
If you’re driving, make time to stop, get out and do some brisk exercise for a few minutes every so often on a long journey.
When lifting at work, judge whether you can do this safely or whether you need help. Never be afraid to ask
If in doubt, find yourself a good osteopath. A fully qualified practitioner must study for four to five years for an undergraduate degree. This is similar to a medical degree, with more emphasis on anatomy and musculoskeletal medicine and includes more than 1,000 hours of training in osteopathic techniques. By law, osteopaths must register with the General Osteopathic Council and it’s an offence for anyone to call themselves an osteopath if they are not registered.
To find a good osteopath in your area, visit osteopathy.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.