Exercise the key to alleviating employee back pain


Exercise the key to alleviating employee back pain
Employers can do more to help alleviate problems of back pain, easing the comfort of their staff and saving the company money in lost sick days.

A new study by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki based on data from 18,000 showed that existing advice and assistance was not always the optimum solution.

And, with back-related complaints the second biggest cause of lost working days - after the common cold – changes could deliver a positive result.

Training programmes which help manual workers with specific lifting are one solution, but the research from lead author Kari-Pekka Martimo indicated that this is not necessarily effective.

Published in the latest issue of The Cochrane Library, an international group specialising in medical research, the report says the data indicates that advice had not resulted in a drop in sick days or disability claims.

Mr Martimo believes the key is to adopt preventative measures which rely on keeping active.

"The frustrating thing is that government bodies and employers concentrate on things that do not work, [such as] back belts, education, lifting devices, workplace redesign and no-lift policies and ignore the only known effective intervention - exercise."

"We also know that exercise has health benefits beyond prevention of back pain, so you are getting two health benefits (or more) for the price of one."

Christopher Maher, associate professor of physiotherapy at the University of Sydney, agreed, saying that while much of what is happening at the workplace is "well-intentioned" it is "probably pointless".

Related categories: Management / Business.

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