Background to the study
Low back pain (LBP) is a widespread problem throughout the UK and so there is a substantial effort to try and understand the factors that contribute to this problem. Whilst a number of factors are thought to increase the risk of low back pain (eg heavy frequent lifting) the following literature review was specifically designed to evaluate the relationship between sitting and low back pain.
What did they do?
The authors of the study reviewed 155 studies that have investigated the relationship between factors such as sitting and the prevalence of low back pain. From those studies 17 were considered high enough quality to be included in the review.
What did they find?
The most striking finding was a strong relationship between combined sitting and whole body vibration and the risk of low back pain. Whole body vibration is shaking or jolting of the human body through a supporting surface (usually a seat or the floor) (HSE, 2005).Jobs that can lead to whole vibration during sitting include: professional driving occupations such as tractor driving, waste disposal truck driving, helicopter piloting etc. Perhaps not surprisingly, the authors also found that awkward postures while sitting were also associated with Low back pain
What is next?
More research needs to be done to work out the dose relationship between sitting/whole body vibration and low back pain. In other words we need to find out how much exposure to these factors increases the risk of low back pain. If you do work in an environment where you are exposed to whole body vibration during sitting it is important to make sure you/your employer take the necessary actions to reduce the risk of injury. For more information on this please contact: www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg242.pdf