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Back Care Awareness Week 2013 and the YWTL exercises

It’s estimated that four out of every five adults (a whopping 80%) will experience back pain at some point in their lives. It’s a problem that is affecting industry, with studies suggesting absenteeism through back pain is costing UK companies £673 per employee per year.

So what are the causes and what can we do about it? Some of the reasons are quite obvious: bad posture, lengthy use of computers or tablets, and carrying heavy loads. Other contributory factors are less obvious, such as not drinking enough water and not eating the right foods.

The good news is that there are some simple things we can all do to help ourselves.

• If you work at a computer, take regular stretch breaks; ensure you sit correctly and that your workstation is ergonomically right for you.

• Take care when lifting – whether you’re at work, doing DIY, gardening or lifting a young child or baby.

• Gardeners and physical workers – always use the right tools, take frequent breaks and do regular stretches.

• Children – carry your schoolbags over both shoulders to prevent uneven weight distribution and take to school only what you need for that day.

• And ladies, it’s time you looked at the contents of your handbag – do you really need all those things you’re lugging around with you all day?

• Finally, get walking! Walking strengthens the body and helps position the spine in the natural shape it was designed for. It also helps to build up core strength, which is important in maintaining good posture.

There are other things we can all do to help our backs too. Most people are chronically dehydrated and the first sign is aches and pains and fatigue. We need to be drinking much more water; staying hydrated cuts out some of those aches and pains. Watch what you eat too. Non-processed food is best. Processed foods and those that are high in sugar cause inflammation in the body so go for things from nature; things from the trees, the ground or naturally raised animals are best.

When it comes to exercise, YWTL stretches are perfect – especially for people who work in offices. Sitting for long lengths of time is a huge issue. In October, we’re trying to get everyone moving more. In the clinic we’re asking people to do a YWTL stretch every two to three hours. You have to use loads of muscles in your back and shoulders and it fires up your nervous system. It’s great for the spine and only takes a couple of minutes.

We’ve all noticed a difference in the type of conditions we’re dealing with in clinic. It changes with trends and at the moment we are getting a lot of issues with neck, shoulder, upper back and wrists because people are using tablets instead of computers or laptops. They’re using them in funny positions and the tablets can be heavy.

Handbags are another issue; ladies need to alternate which arm they carry them on because if you’re carrying your handbag on the same shoulder all the time, it’s bad.

So yes, there are some issues because of the way we live, but it’s important for people to know there are some things they can do to reduce the health risks.


Try the YWTL exercises for yourself. However, if you notice any pain, or are unsure if it’s right for you, stop immediately and ask your chiropractor.

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