Dubai: It's bad for your back if you are a "weekend warrior", or if you're overweight, or slouch over the steering wheel during the long commute to work, doctors said.
"About 80 per cent of people suffer from back pain some time in their life and it is due to poor posture, prolonged sitting at your desk and lack of exercise," said Dr Humeira Badsha, consultant rheumatologist.
An orthopaedic surgeon said people who were sedentary but became active over the weekend would "beat up their knees" and their back. "The ‘weekend warriors' generally have good intentions, but it's asking too much of your back," said Dr Mousa Kazim, consultant surgeon at Orthosports Medical Centre.
He said low back pain was fairly common worldwide and could be prevented with basic common sense. Besides the common cold, low back pain was a leading cause of lost days at work, doctors said, as people become bedridden due to the excruciating pain from muscle spasm.
Dr Badsha said she received a number of patients at her Al Biraa Arthritis and Bone Clinic who suffered from back pain. She cited an example of employees of a company who were sitting improperly at their workstations. "Some had to undergo physiotherapy [as pain started shooting down their arms]," she said.
The doctor said lack of exercise would make the back muscles weaker. Some suffered back pain when they pick up heavy luggage and pull a muscle. A sedentary lifestyle and being overweight would also tell on your back. "Rising obesity, more weight around your midriff puts pressure on your back," said Dr Badsha.
Being overweight also puts pressure on your knees. "One kilo of gain puts five kilos extra pressure on the knees, making them more prone to injuries and leading to arthritis," she said.
The doctor said many people hunched over their keyboards, which was bad for the neck and back. "Laptop users have even worse posture as the eyes look downwards," she said.
Teenagers and children who rarely exercise will grow up with poor posture as they slouch with a laptop on a couch or the bed, she said. "Don't spend too much time on your electronics [TV, computer]. The poor alignment of your spine starts young," she said.
Dr Badsha said it was important to pay attention to ergonomics, to the way we sit at our workplace.
Ergonomics is the science of making things comfy and efficient. It is the science of how work is done and how to work better. One of the common ergonomic risk factors is found in jobs requiring repetitive and prolonged exertion of the hands and prolonged awkard postures.
The doctor said it was important how one sits at the computer. The back must be straight, hips at a 90 degree angle, feet should rest squarely on the floor. "Everything should be aligned properly," she said.
In today's knowledge economies most professions are desk-bound and doctors advise getting up frequently and walking around, even if you are just walking across to talk to a colleague, instead of sending an e-mail.
Have your say
How much care do you take to maintain the right posture during office hours? Have you faced any serious back problems due to long work hours?
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