In the UK, most office workers spend extensive periods of time sitting at their desks with their eyes glued to computer screens and fail to take regular breaks to stretch and move about. This can take a serious toll on their backs, necks and upper limbs, but it's not just their physical health that's paying the price.
The greatest number of working days lost to sick leave are attributed to musculoskeletal conditions. In 2011, these accounted for 10 per cent of all work sickness absences – a huge 34.4 million days – according to the Office of National Statistics. And of course that doesn't take into account the people who're working at sub-optimal levels because they're dealing with these kind of problems.
So, the bottom line is that poor workstation set ups and working routines cost both employees' health and their employer's pockets.
Notting Hill Chiropractic (NHC) provides free health screenings for employees, in which we set up a space within the office and all staff members are offered 10-15 minute consultation and screening. A chiropractor assesses each individual for musculoskeletal problems and carries out a spinal screen.
The chiropractor will then give the patient advice on how they can improve their back health, or he'll book in the patient for a free two-hour session at the clinic's in-house gym.
This allows the patient to see what's on offer at NHC and understand how we can help them with the long-term prevention of back problems. It is then totally up to the patient to decide if they want to book in again.
In order to provide a more integrated approach, the health screening can include NHC general practitioner Dr Dominique Dock and one of it's personal trainers. This allows NHC to provide a more comprehensive analysis of any health issues and a more holistic solution to them.
“We look at patients' problems from multiple angles,” says Dr Marius Jensen. "Usually medical practitioners work in isolation, so you get a doctor prescribing medication; a physiotherapist providing generic exercises on a piece of paper; and then a surgeon, who's looking at the patient from another perspective without having any idea what the other practitioners are doing. Our system is far more integrated.
“We don't dole out sheets of paper with generic exercises on, unlike a lot of physiotherapists and the NHS do. Everyone has their own unique problems, and we pride ourselves on providing multi-faceted, bespoke solutions.”
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the national body responsible for health in the workplace, requires that businesses carry out work-station assessments every year by law. They can be carried out in house, although this usually isn't a very effective method, or a professional can come in to carry out the service.
Notting Hill Chiropractic carries out workstation assessments for London-based businesses. Its chiropractors assess the overall desk set up, including the position of each computer screen, mouse and keyboard, chair and desk, and suggest suitable adjustments.
Additionally, they will check that each work station is well positioned within the office space and that it receives the optimum amount of light.
“So many people suffer from back problems as a result of prolonged sitting, not taking enough breaks or getting enough exercise,” says Dr Marius Jensen, founder of NHC. “We regularly see people who work in an office environment suffering from lower-back problems, opera back, issues with their ribs, neck and shoulder blade, and headaches. We're there to make them aware that their problems can be dealt with by taking simple steps.”