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JollyBack Blog

I'm a teacher with back pain, what can I do?

I’m a teacher, I’ve got back pain, what can I do?

Studies show nearly every primary teacher has experienced work-related muscle and joint aches, strains and pain at some point in their career.

The most common causes of discomfort reported (either caused at or exacerbated at work) are:

  • back pain 88%; followed by neck and shoulder pain 73%; and
  • knee pain at 56%.

Musculoskeletal pain is a common cause of staff absence in schools. There is a high risk of short term problems turning into long term absence. Productivity is reduced and children’s learning affected, not to mention the burden it places on individual sufferers. Yet, musculoskeletal health and practical interventions are frequently overlooked in schools.

Staff working in schools, particularly those working with younger children are most at risk, but every teacher can be affected. The “child” environments, together with the added factors of budget restrictions, pupil academic targets, limited understanding of healthier working practices and cultural resistance to change in schools, perhaps leads to little consideration given to musculoskeletal health and the benefits of ergonomics.

However, safer, healthier working and learning environments can be created and healthy habits developed. This leads to positive improvements in health, safety and well-being for staff and pupils.

 

Back Health and Low Level Disruption in School Children

Can we ignore it any longer?

Back pain and other musculoskeletal conditions account for a quarter of all UK sickness absence, that’s 31 million working days lost every year. The costs to the economy are more than hosting the 2012 Olympics EVERY YEAR. Back pain has huge social and emotional costs too.goodposture2

Perhaps due to the immense economic costs, intervention and prevention tend to focus on adults. However, recent research shows that increasing numbers of children are experiencing back and neck pain.

Studies show 72% of primary and 64% of secondary children reported experiencing back and/or neck pain at school, with the majority of cases unreported (Webb 2013).

There are 8.3 million children attending UK schools (Department for Education, 2015), all of whom should be given every opportunity to achieve their full potential. Back pain in children has implications for the future workforce as many young adults are entering the workplace with back and neck pain already present (Murphy et al 2007). It also has substantial economic and public health implications when considering children’s young age and the recurrence potential of the condition throughout adulthood (Trevelyan and Legg 2011). Given that the NHS has 1.4 million employees as the 5th World’s biggest employer, the number of children potentially at risk is enormous.

Non-specific spinal pain in children and young people is multi-factorial in cause but is now a well-established phenomenon and amongst health, education and ergonomics professionals is considered to be on the rise. Predisposing factors for school-aged children include: high body mass index, low physical activity, prolonged sitting, ergonomic risks in the current classroom environment carrying school bags, and >3hours high level sport a week. It must also be noted that back pain in children and young people can also have other biopsychosocial elements (Murphy et al 2007).

It cases absence from education, conservative and pharmacological health interventions, reduced participation in physical activity and the potential to develop long term chronic pain (Hill & Ketaing 2010, Jakes et al 2015). A high proportion of children affected by pain (69% girls and 51% boys) will go on to have a lifetime prevalence of back pain, placing enormous stain on both health and social resources (Jones 2009).

10 Top Tips to Improve Back Health for School Children

Back pain and other musculoskeletal conditions account for a quarter of all UK sickness absence, that's 31 million working days lost (equivalent to a staggering 1000 average lifetimes) every year. The costs to the economy are more than hosting the 2012 Olympics EVERY YEAR. Back pain has huge social and emotional costs too.colouredlegcollection

Perhaps due to the immense economic costs, intervention and prevention tend to focus on adults. However, recent research shows that increasing numbers of children are experiencing back and neck pain.

Non-specific spinal pain in children and young people is now a well-established phenomenon and amongst health, education and ergonomics professionals is considered to be on the rise.

72% of primary and 64% of secondary children reported experiencing back pain at school, with the majority of cases unreported.
Children spend approximately 30% of their waking hours in school, mostly in a seated position. There are no regulations to keep posture and back health in check, despite the numerous benefits to concentration, health and learning it brings.

For every child to be safe, healthy and reach their full potential, maybe greater emphasis needs to be placed on the school working environment, awareness of ergonomics and healthy posture when using technology. Ofsted should perhaps place greater emphasis on pupil health and wellbeing too?

The good news is that some simple ideas, which can be easily implemented make a real difference to children's back health.

 

Derbyshire based Jolly Back wins an award at the UK’s leading training and resources event

Prestigious Education Resources Award

Lorna Taylor, founder of Jolly Back with Paul Ross (left) and Tom Wates, director of DLB (Don’t Lean Back)

Derbyshire based company, Jolly Back, was last night awarded a prestigious Education Resources Award, in the ‘Supplier of the Year: with less than £1million annual turnover’ category.

The Education Resources Awards play a key role in identifying and rewarding effective resources and services for use in education. The winning organisations were announced at the Education Resources Awards dinner in at the National Motorcycle Museum in front of a crowd of more than 300 educators and industry leaders.

The judges said of Jolly Back;

“Jolly Back represents the best of the UK’s small and innovative education resources supply sector. Their UK manufactured chairs and focus on friendly customer service made Jolly Back stand out from the crowd.”

Caroline Wright, director of BESA, the education sector’s trade association and organisers of the Education Resources Awards, added;

“As schools are given increasing freedom to invest in products to suit the specific needs of their students, it is so important to highlight the high quality of resources such as Jolly Back.”

 

 

Back on Track

Health Education For Schools

Back pain affecting 72% of primary school children – it’s not just about heavy bags

Two paediatric physiotherapists (Helena Webb from NHS ABMUHB, Swansea and Lorna Taylor from Jolly Back, Derby) have demonstrated excellent collaborative working by gaining evidence into the extent of back and neck pain affecting today’s primary and secondary aged children, it’s risk factors and ideas schools, parents and children can follow to help reduce it.

The pair have also developed a new back health education programme “Back on Track” which is currently being piloted with the hope that it can be rolled out to schools Nationwide as part of the PSHE curriculum.

Back pain is the leading cause of sickness absence from work. Every day it costs the NHS £1.3m everyday it costs the UK £13m in sickness benefits. Every day, it costs the UK economy £37m, that’s £19 billion every year (BackCare.org.uk). Studies show that children who suffer back pain are 4 times more likely to experience it as an adult. Prevention and the  formation of good, healthy habits early on its essential. We need to make sure that children’s back are fit for the future.