Whether in school or at work, we tend to be seated for a good 6-9 hours with minimal movements. This lack of movement will cause aches to develop in your neck or back. We conducted a survey early this year to find out just how frequent women in Singapore have to endure body aches and pains. In total, we surveyed 278 women both in person in the Central Business District and through online distribution.
Many of the participants mentioned that they only started experiencing back or neck/shoulder aches after transitioning to being working adults. In this 2nd part of our International Women’s Day Survey series, let’s have a look at just how often people face these aches and pains, & how to cure/prevent them.
A Rundown of the Numbers
46.8% and 45% of the respondents have severe to very severe neck and back pains respectively. These pains include includes sharp, localised pain in the neck, upper back, or lower back, or persistent aching or stiffness.
Some of the more common causes of neck pain are neck strain or neck injury such as in whiplash, a herniated disc, or a pinched nerve.
The lower back functions to support the weight of the upper body when we stand. So if you feel a persistent pain in your lower back while standing, it can indicate that you might have sustained an injury to your spine, muscles, tendons, or ligaments.
74.8% (almost 3 in 4) women experience neck/shoulder pains and 75.9% experience back pains at least once a month. As a result of these pains, you might be less productive at work or in school as neither sitting nor standing helps with the aches.
Especially at work or in school, back and neck/shoulder aches can result from bad sitting posture, like being hunched over, bending your neck or hovering over the computer screen.
81.7% of respondents (227) reported that they typically sit with one of these bad postures. Out of this 227, 88.1% of them experience back or neck pains at least once a month.
Sitting with legs crossed can give you varicose veins from increased blood pressure. This is especially true for these sitting positions – Cross over, Foot resting on knee and Cross-legged). Sitting with one leg crossed over the other is the worst as your pelvis is rotated and strained. Naturally your lower back would be slightly hunched while sitting in this position, which causes you to get lower back aches.
Just 3-4 hours on your mobile phone can cause you to get neck pains. 85.25% of respondents spend at least 3 hours on their mobile phones and of this 237, 75.5% face neck aches at least once a month. This is known as the “text neck” syndrome, where more pressure is placed on your spine when you bend your neck due to the weight of your head. Depending on the angle your neck is at, you could be placing more than 25kg of force on your neck!
Combatting Back and Neck Aches
One way you can reduce these aches and pains are by doing stretches while at work. It’s perfectly okay to stand up to do a quick stretch every hour or so! You could also take a short walk around the office (to the pantry or watercooler) to increase blood circulation.
Also, make sure that you keep your back straight and relaxed all the time, while keeping your devices (e.g. computer screen) at eye level. Even the way you position your legs makes a huge difference! Sit with your legs planted flat on the ground, instead of crossing them. This is wrong:
Sitting in this way with one leg over the other causes some discomfort to your hips. Also, having your neck bent for an extended amount of time will give you a neck ache. The correct way of sitting should be:
Sit with your eyes looking forward, and both your feet flat on the ground! If you’re using a laptop at work, we recommend that you use a laptop stand to elevate the display to eye level.
If you suffer from neck and back aches, you could try NeckHeat or BackHeat for heat therapy, which helps to soothe and get rid of the aches naturally. They are long-lasting, discreet, and odourless, making them the perfect companion in the office.
If you haven’t seen part 1 of the International Women’s Survey series, read to find out about what it means to be a woman in the workplace.
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