|Struggling to get comfortable on your sofa with your bad back?|
They found that around 4.2 million working days were lost by workers aged 50-64 alone in 2014. Those aged 25-34 were absent for 1.89 million days due to back pain, while those in the 35-49 bracket missed 3.86 million days in the office.
The number of sick days taken because of the chronic condition had also increased dramatically - up from 7.7 million lost days in 2013 to 9.96 million in 2014. The total cost of the missed work days amounts to more than a billion pounds.
The condition affects people in all age groups but my age group, the over-50s, are worst hit. Health experts say chronic back pain is made worse by our increasingly sedentary lifestyle, with the average Briton spending almost four hours a day at a computer. And that's without including time sat on the sofa watching TV or slumped in a chair gaming!
You may have heard the expression "sitting is the new smoking" and there are a number of books which link excessive sitting to a greatly increased risk of disease and even early death.
But what can you do if you have back pain and you have to sit down for the greater part of the day?
Apart from the obvious lifestyle changes you need to make, the most obvious being to increase your exercise, there are things you can do to improve your comfort. You are probably already aware of the orthopedic mattresses on the market to help you get a better night's sleep but how many of us consider how the chairs and sofas we sit in may be contributing to our back pain?
My own lower back pain began after 2 caesareans and a generally sedentary lifestyle at home looking after the kids. I still spend far too much time writing whilst sat in an arm chair that has seen better days.
Let's be honest. Few of us have the money to replace our lounge furniture just because a few springs have gone or because the cushions now sink and don't give any support.
We've been looking for a new sofa recently and I can't believe how many designs have really deep seating areas so your legs sometimes don't even reach the floor, and absolutely no neck support so you can't rest your head back.
What are designers thinking? Given that many sofas cost in the thousands, it's a lot of money to pay to store up back and neck problems for yourself later on!
One solution to sitting more comfortably on your sofa with proper back support is the Sittingwell® Back Support Cushion. This was designed to offer support for the sofas and chairs which are too deep to give sufficient support, leading you to slump and thus put pressure on your spine and your neck.
Sittingwell make a variety of products aimed at preventing and relieving back pain and this cushion is unique in that it combines a built in back support pad with the comfortable 'squiginess' you'd expect from a plush sofa cushion.
There are two versions, one filled with polyester foam and, the one I was sent to try, the duck feather filled version.. The cushion is supplied without a cover but fits easily in to a standard 45 cm square cushion cover so nobody need know you're using one.
Hand made in the UK, the Sittingwell® Cushion comes in an ethically sourced reusable canvas bag which is great if you want to take it away with you.
I was sent the Deluxe Sittingwell® Feather Back Support Cushion which retails at £69.99. The polyester filled version is slightly cheaper at £45.99.
I found that the support the cushion gave was surprisingly firm and it really makes you sit up properly. Because the front of the cushion is what you'd probably consider 'normal cushion' though, it is comfortable to lean back on.
I could feel the adjustment to my spine as my thighs were elongated and my feet felt more firmly on the floor. The benefits of this of course mean that your neck is also elongated and you don't hunch quite so much. It's easier and more comfortable to sit for longer with this added back support.
Despite this, and as Sittingwell themselves advise, you need to get up and move regularly. My physiotherapist once told me that you should get up and move around every 20 minutes or so and that he would never sit down for longer than 45 minutes at a time. (Oops!).
When you get up some simple stretches and bends may be enough to ensure you don't seize up and keep everything moving!
Sittingwell has an advice hub on their website where you can find a range of articles on how to avoid back pain in various situations (sitting, standing, sleeping, travelling etc). You can also get a free report "7 Solutions To Back Pain Relief" which can be downloaded to your PC when you leave your email address.
I was impressed by the Sittingwell cushion and will continue to use it. I know that it's no substitute for a healthier lifestyle but it does make time spent on our rickety sofa more bearable.
I think that it's also quite reasonably priced given the cost of some of the major retailer's 'normal' cushions! You can easily pick up a cushion cover for a few pounds on Amazon.
You can find more information at www.sittingwell.co.uk.