What are the causes of back pain? And what do we need to change in order to prevent back pain? Renowned physiotherapist Jason T Smith sets us on the (somewhat) straight and narrow.

6 causes of back pain & discomfort - IMAGE - Women's Health & Fitness

YOUR DESK

✗ Problem
Many of us spend more time at the desk than in our beds. Yet who pays as much attention to ergonomics as holiday snaps or a cute plant?

“Sitting for long periods of time can eventually lead to compression of the spine and postural fatigue,” says Smith. “These are two of the most detrimental factors in the cause of back pain.

“Sitting at your desk, with correct posture, shouldn’t feel like hard work. If it does, it’s quite likely that you will soon feel fatigued or become distracted and will lapse into a dangerous, ineffective posture.”

Slumped in your office chair while distractedly poring over Facebook risks the wrath of your boss as well as your back.

“If you find that you can’t sit or stand comfortably in a neutral position (with good posture) for more than five to 10 minutes, it’s very likely that you have poor core stability as well,” says Smith.

✓ Solution
“Improving your posture and core stability can have a significant positive effect on back pain and back issues,” says Smith.

“A fun and proven way to improve your posture and stimulate your core stabilising muscles is to practise dynamic sitting with a physio ball. Sitting on a physio ball rather than your desk chair creates an immediate dynamic environment that demands continuous micro adjustments to your posture. I recommend swapping between your desk chair and physio ball a couple of times a day.”

To increase the efficacy of said ball, stand up and walk around regularly.

“It’s vital to make a conscious effort to get out of your chair every 30 minutes,” says Smith. “In doing this, the blood flow through your body will increase and your muscles will be given the opportunity to relax and reset. Doing some gentle stretches while out of your chair will also be beneficial.”