Back pain in young people rising, say experts

Hayley Raper suffers with back pain

Health experts say our sedentary lifestyles are leading to an increasing number of young people suffering with back pain.

Research by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) found almost half of 16-24s are living with neck/back pain.

Last year's figures show that 28% of 18 to 24-year-olds suffered with back pain.

Hayley Raper, a TV producer from Leeds, tells Newsbeat back pain has had a huge effect on her life.

"If I'm out on location, the pain can be quite severe," she says. "I'm stood up for long periods of time, I have quite a throbbing pain down my back.

"If I'm in the office, I'm having to get up and moving around quite a lot."

The rise in back problems in young people is being blamed on the fact that we sit at our desks for longer and are doing less exercise.

The BCA claims that on average, people spend 10 hours sitting and fewer than two hours being active.

It says that each day we spend 1.8 hours on our phones and tablets, 3.7 hours on our laptops and computers and 1.4 hours gaming.

Hayley Raper still likes to ski despite suffering with back pain
Image caption Hayley Raper still likes to ski despite suffering with back pain

Chiropractor Tim Hutchful says: "We're seeing a rise in the number of people experiencing back and neck-related problems because our modern lifestyle is forcing us to stay seated and I'm concerned that the number of patients under the age of 30 coming through our doors is increasing."

Speaking to Newsbeat, Hayley says she's now had to cut back on activities she enjoys.

She's had to change which classes she goes to at the gym because the pain is too great and her social life has also been affected.

"When there's a night out on the weekend coming up I know I have to take it easy," she says. "On the run-up to the night, I have to rest."

So what can you do to stop back pain?

Sit up straight: Relax when sitting into your seat, making sure you have your bum against the seat back with your shoulder blades touching the back rest of the chair. When you're driving the back of the seat should be set slightly backwards, so that it feels natural and your elbows should be at a comfortable and relaxed angle for driving.

Adjust your computer screen: Make sure the top of the screen is level with the eyebrows and the chair is titled slightly forward, allowing for the knees to be lower than the hips and the feet to be flat on the floor. Using a laptop or tablet away from a desk will encourage poor posture, so limit time spent in this way; where possible keep the screen at eye level - try stacking on a pile of books to get the height you need and use a detachable keyboard and mouse.

Take regular breaks: Don't sit for more than 20-30 minutes at a time - stand up to stretch, change position and walk around a little. If you struggle to get away then take time to gently massage the back of your head and neck as you relax your stomach region with slow easy breathing. This will help to improve posture and reduce back pain by promoting balance, strength and flexibility in the spine.

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