Photo-training can help prevent back pain

Aug 15 2011
Office workers often develop back or neck pain due to the sedentary nature of their work.

Sitting with bad posture while working at a desk can also increase the risk of developing a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD), according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS). MSDs most commonly present as neck or back pain.

A team from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev recently developed a photo-training method to improve the posture of office workers and reduce the risk of developing MSDs. Sixty employees received in-office training about proper posture. The researchers also used webcams that repeatedly captured how the participants were sitting during the workday. These images were then displayed alongside a photo of proper posture. The participants’ photos were studied over time to see if the program significantly improved their posture.

Researchers found that training alone resulted in only short-term improvement. However, the webcam method helped to improve posture long-term. It was also found that women and older workers were more receptive to the photo-training, as well as workers already suffering from an MSD.

The team stated its belief that the long-term improvement was due to the repeated reminders, which reinforced the habit of good posture in the participants. According to the researchers, “To maintain the effectiveness of an ergonomic intervention for the long term, the intervention should be a continuous process, which includes frequent feedback.”

The team hopes that this method could be used in the future to help prevent sedentary office workers from developing back and neck pain. It would also have the added benefit of minimizing economic loses due to employee absenteeism due to health problems.

According to the National Institutes of Health, some 80 percent of people report having back pain at some point during their lives, making it one of the most common medical issues in the U.S. One of the main risk factors for developing back pain is sitting with poor posture during workdays, according to NIAMS. The organization states that sitting with good posture, exercising regularly and getting enough calcium can help decrease the risk of developing an MSD.