Bad posture among UK office employees is a nationwide epidemic. Sitting at desks all day, slouching over computers and a general sedentary lifestyle has led one in five Brits to give up their job or reduce hours because of their condition. Experts behind Kaia, the first and only medically approved back pain app in the EU and UK, want to end the nationwide epidemic of back pain in UK offices and claim that a few simple changes in the workplace can help to reduce the risk.
According to WHO, back pain is the leading global cause of disability worldwide. Meanwhile, in the UK, an estimated one-third of the adult population are affected by back issues each year And according to the Office for National Statistics, back pain accounts for almost 31 million days of work lost annually costing the UK economy £14 billion a year. In another study, 63% in higher managerial jobs attributed their back pain to bad posture, and took more days off sick for back pain than any other type of employee.
The Kaia back pain app was developed by digital therapy company Kaia Health in conjunction with physiotherapists, orthopaedic surgeons and clinical psychologists. The app offers video exercises with education, physiotherapy and psychological strategies. Users can chat online with a physiotherapist or sports scientist for motivation and exercise-related questions.
Sedentary office occupations can cause back pain as a result of inactivity between back muscles and the spine – but this is not the only factor. A combination of high workload, posture, job dissatisfaction or fear over termination can increase the occurrence of back pain at work.
In an independent clinical study published recently in NPJ Digital Medicine, patients using Kaia reported significantly lower pain levels compared to the control group treated with physiotherapy and online education.
A few simple changes can help to reduce the risk of back pain in the workplace. These include:
- Walk and talk during phone calls
- Take a break from the screen every 30 minutes for at least two minutes
- Exercise regularly at your desk including arm stretches and neck rolls
- Walk over to and talk with a colleague rather than emailing them
- Arrange a workplace assessment to optimise the seating position and workstation
- Meditate for 10 minutes. Be mindful of the influence workplace stress and strain has
- Sit correctly with your thighs at right angles to your body or sloping slightly down
Stephan Huber, chief medical officer at Kaia Health, says: at Kaia says: “The core problem is our modern, sedentary working life. We’re hunched at desks all day and this puts a strain on our back. We are encouraging UK employers to adopt a holistic approach to tackling back pain in and out of the workplace – this could include increased access to exercise and relaxation like the Kaia app offers. Implementing these measures systematically for workers could lead to a more active way of dealing with the condition, and this will help to alleviate back pain and reduce the strain on the NHS [National Health Service].”