Is your job taking a toll on your health?

Is your job taking a toll on your health?

A quarter of office workers have been living with aches for up to two years, says a study.

We all know work can sometimes be a pain in the neck. But what if your job caused you actual pain, illness or psychological distress? Almost a quarter of office goers have been living with aches and pains for up to two years, according to a recent report. From obesity to “office knee” and chronic headaches, our working life can cause a whole host of conditions that have a huge impact on our health. Our working life can not only cause health problems — it can also exacerbate ones we already have.

Health expert Dr Richard Heron explains, “It’s often difficult to differentiate the mix of personal, home and work health issues. Someone may have a pre-existing condition and they may also have issues in the workplace. It’s often the combination of these that is ultimately what leads to them becoming ill.” Here’s how to prevent and manage common health problems caused by the stresses and strains of the daily grind.

Common ailments: Lower back pain, joint injuries, arthritis, arm pain.

If your job involves a regular amount of activity such as bending, lifting, stretching and pushing, the good news is this that gives you an excellent chance to take proper charge of your physical health. Sophie Gask, an independent occupational health adviser, says, “An active job where you’re moving around is the healthiest job you can have. But after the age of 50, many employees with active jobs, such as cleaners and bin men, start to feel wear and tear.”

Whatever our age, jobs that involve movement can sometimes contribute to musculoskeletal disorders such as lower back pain, joint injuries, muscular aches and strains and non-specific arm pain — a term used to describe pain in the fingers, wrists, forearms neck and shoulders.

How to stay healthy
– Rotate repetitive activities and remember to take your rest periods. Also try taking regular ‘micro-breaks’.
– Adopt neutral work postures whenever you can — always stand upright, maintain the natural curves of your back, keep your arms close to your body and keep your feet hip-distance apart.
– Avoid working in awkward or uncomfortable positions, e.g. working with arms away from your body or with your back bent and twisted.
– Check your posture is good, with your spine, shoulder and hip joints in correct alignment.
– Shock-absorbent shoes are a good idea if you’re on your feet all day.

Common ailments: Lower back pain, joint injuries, arthritis, arm pain.

Office workers often spend hours sitting still and carrying out repetitive tasks. The human body isn’t designed for this — we’re supposed to be moving around.

Common causes of sickness absence include musculoskeletal conditions such as lower back pain and “work-relevant upper limb disorders” such as non-specific arm pain. Also, office knee is a growing problem, partly due to the rise of the internet and being stuck at a desk all day long.

Sammy Margo, a spokeswoman a physiotherapy organisation, says, “I have seen a huge surge in the number of people with knee pain and it is down to the sedentary lifestyle we now lead. It is very much people with desk-based jobs — and some of them have been working for 10 to 20 years in these roles.”

An American study found that staring at the computer for hours rather than having an active job means we are burning 120 to 140 fewer calories a day than 50 years ago.

How to stay healthy
– Rotate your tasks. Alternate computer and telephone use or, even better, go and speak to someone in person.
– Maintain good posture at your computer — don’t slump and slouch. Keep shoulders down, back straight and don’t lean your head forward. And resist crossing your legs.
– Make sure you get out of the office every day for some fresh air. Take quick breaks at least every hour, even if it is just to run up and down the stairs.

Common ailments: Panic attacks, psychological anxiety, physical tension, depression, insomnia and migraines.

Stress-related conditions can often come about after changes at work. This could be, for example, the threat of redundancy, high performance expectations or even a workload that you struggle to manage. Sophie Gask says: “As people get older, changes in technology and having to constantly learn new things can be challenging, leading to added stress. Conditions such as insomnia, panic attacks, depression and anxiety can be the result of too much work stress.”

Studies have shown a fifth of people in suffer with work-related stress, with half a million people reporting that they have become ill as a result. Dr Heron says the problem starts small, but gets worse. He adds, “Initially, stress causes people to be more irritable or just behave unusually. Further along, they can develop severe anxiety and become panicky about work situations, which can end with them being off work for long periods with depression.”

How to stay healthy
– Think about whether your responses are realistic. A lot of stress comes from people’s perception of a situation, but these feelings may actually turn out to be unfounded.
– Work on communication with line managers and colleagues. Often, stress can come from misunderstandings.
– Ask for a weekly one-to-one with your line manager to talk through concerns. After that, try and plan your workload with them.

Tagged under


New Delhi


Humidity 74%

Wind 12.87 km/h

  • 19 Aug 201535°C27°C
  • 20 Aug 201534°C26°C