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Off topic: Back ache due to overwork
Thread poster: xxxSanjiv Sadan
xxxSanjiv Sadan
Local time: 08:09
English to Hindi
+ ...
Dec 19, 2005

Some of the translators keep working for so many hours to strengthen their financial position but this overwork sometimes affects the back. I sometimes keep working till 1.00 AM simply for the reason I don't want to lose a client who wants to have a job translated on urgent basis. I generally keep working for 9 to 13 hours on an average and this is telling on my back as I am having severe back ache. Sometimes, I take the painkiller tablets but the people tell that these affect the kidney.

I would be thankful if you could advise me how should I handle this problem.

1. Is there any special chair which provides relief to the back?

2.Which exercises are the best for back?

3. Can one avoid the back ache by working according to the standard and ideal working conditions? For examlple, whether monitor should be above the eye level or it should be parallal?

4. Does tying an orthopaedic belt on the waist relieves the back ache?

5. Is there any proper sitting posture which helps in avoiding the back ache?

6. Is there any special diet which strengthens the bones?

7. Can a person take Calcium tablets (one per day) for always to make the bones powerful? Does it relieve the back pain?

Any suggestion in this respect will be highly appreciated.


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:39
German to English
+ ...
Back ache due to overwork Dec 19, 2005

Sanjiv Sadana wrote:

I generally keep working for 9 to 13 hours on an average and this is telling on my back as I am having severe back ache.

I would be thankful if you could advise me how should I handle this problem.


Raise your rates.

Marc


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Alicia Casal  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 23:39
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Yoga? Calistenia? Dec 19, 2005

It works!

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Rosa Maria Duenas Rios  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:39
A few things that have worked for me... Dec 19, 2005

Hi Sanjiv,

I used to have backaches (even though I was not working as long hours as you are).

Believe it or not, switching to a more ergonomic chair (I mean a good office chair, and not one of the dinning room chairs), helped a lot, but also keeping my back aligned to the back of the chair, and not slouching my shoulders forward.

The doctor recommended to stand up every two hours on average, even if it is just to go to the bathroom, get a glass of water, have lunch, or feed the fish... as simple or silly as this may sound, I found it was also very useful to diminish the strain on my shoulders.

Getting a foot rest also helped. You can buy a real one, or just get a couple of thick directories or dictionaries under your feet. The trick is to have your upper legs perpendicular to the floor, or even slightly raised.

I tried the orthopaedic belt, but I did not find it useful. By not using it, one is forced to think about keeping a straight back, and after a while, it becomes almost a reflex; every time I feel a bit of a back ache, I realize I am slouching, I align my back to the chair back, and feel the difference almost immediately.

Calcium, vitamins D and K, and sun are all good for the bones, but they do not help if we do not force ourselves to keep a straight position, I believe. I do not believe taking a calcium tablet will help solve the pain due to long hours of work, sitting in an unadequate position.

I have witnessed that the best excercise to strengthen the muscles that support the spine are ab crunches... but I must confess I am not as good at repeating a series of 16 to 32 every day, as I am at leaving my desk every two hours.

A good night sleep in a firm matress (the soft ones are like a torture to my back) also helps me.

There's lots of information on the web, if you have internet access. Just type "back ache relief" in Google, and you will find thousands of good ideas!


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Fred Neild  Identity Verified
English to Spanish
+ ...
Exercise Dec 19, 2005

Some exercise always helps. Maybe you can find some sport you can practice, at least once a week. In my case, I have found out that aches are not only related to physical reasons, but also to stress. So, I always try to have some physical activity that I also enjoy. At the moment, I am going to a golf driving range once a week. : )

Also, I will have to agree with Marc that if you are working so hard, maybe it is time to consider raising your rates. It is a great time of year to do that, you know.


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Elvira Stoianov  Identity Verified
Luxembourg
Local time: 03:39
German to Romanian
+ ...
swimming Dec 19, 2005

I used to go swimming for a while and it was good, because unlike working out in the gym (which I personally don't like), I find swimming more relaxing and it is good for your entire body, not just your back. However, you need to take some time off to do it, but it really makes you feel better.

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Francesca Verd  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:39
English to Catalan
+ ...
Back ache, a few tips. Dec 19, 2005

You didn't say if it's lower back pain or upper back pain. I have suffered from both. I had a herniated disk in my neck which required surgery and I have another one in my lower back which is painful at times but not enough to think about surgery. Actually, I'm ready to go through a lot of pain and to try anything before another back surgery.
A good chair is essential. Actually I have two. One is a good office chair, the other is an ergonomic chair (one of those in which you are sort of kneeling). As I have problems both in my lower back and in my neck I find it useful to change chairs when I feel the tension start to build up.
What I've found out after years of strugling with back pain is that many injuries are postural, so you should try to sit straight. All that's been said about a good chair, matress and foot rest is important. Monitor should be at eye level, not higher. That would build tension on your neck.
Most of the time the real problem is not in the bones, but in the muscles that support them. Many times it is better to take a muscle relaxing pill than a pain killer. (I don't know which ones you are taking). The only problem is muscle relaxants usually make you sleepy... so, see your doctor. He'll know better than any of us.
Calcium is not really a good idea, at least not in tablets. It is OK to take calcium tablets if you need them. If you don't your body will get rid of it. It might get rid of more calcium than your daily intake. It is much better to take calcium in food. Yoghurt and cheese are usually a lot better than milk, they are easier to digest.
I've also found out that stress adds to back pain. So, try not to be stressed. I know this is easier said than done, but your health is worth the effort. Some people do yoga, others do meditation, others decide to paint... just find something that is relaxing for you.
Walk. Don't sit all day. The longer you sit in front of the computer, the longer your walk needs to be. Physical exercise is a good way to gain muscle tone. This will also help you sleep better.
I also use a little computer program called "Break reminder" that forces you to make breaks while you are working. It's free, so I suppose you'll be able to download it.
Now I see a shiatsu therapist every week or two and it works for me. It even worked before my surgery, when I was in real pain. It got rid of the migraine and constant headaches.
Yoga doesn't seem to work for me, I get very tense. Meditation is fine, as long as it's not group meditation.
It is important to take a little time for yourself every day. Do something that you really enjoy. Don't think about work while you do it. That's important too.
I don't always manage. I get an episode of bad back pain every now and then, but I try to take it easy. Many times, when you realise that it's starting to hurt, you get nervous, that makes you more tense, and it hurts more. After my surgery I got so tense that I had handbook panic attacks. It took me some time to learn to deal with them. Now, when I feel it's starting to hurt I just try to relax and think of something else. Thinking about the pain will only make it worse.
I hope this helps.


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:39
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
The best remedy Dec 19, 2005

MarcPrior wrote:

Sanjiv Sadana wrote:

I generally keep working for 9 to 13 hours on an average and this is telling on my back as I am having severe back ache.

I would be thankful if you could advise me how should I handle this problem.


Raise your rates.

Marc


and raise your screen. Just try raising your sceen twenty centimeters, you'll feel much better.

Regards,
Gerard


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Wouter van Kampen
Thailand
Local time: 09:39
Danish to Dutch
+ ...
Out of my own experience and some reading Dec 20, 2005

I am not a physician but as a fellow translator who also sometimes suffers from overstressing his back I will try to give some advice out of my own experience.

Sanjiv Sadana wrote:

Some of the translators keep working for so many hours to strengthen their financial position but this overwork sometimes affects the back. I sometimes keep working till 1.00 AM simply for the reason I don't want to lose a client who wants to have a job translated on urgent basis. I generally keep working for 9 to 13 hours on an average and this is telling on my back as I am having severe back ache. Sometimes, I take the painkiller tablets but the people tell that these affect the kidney.

I would be thankful if you could advise me how should I handle this problem.


Using pain killers is a so called "end of pipe solution". You should only use these when absolutely necessary to perform and even then only for a short period. When used for a prolonged period of time they will get less effective and you will hence need more and more. Using high doses may indeed induce malfunctioning of your kidneys and/or liver. Stay away from pain killers as a cure, because they do not cure anything at all.


1. Is there any special chair which provides relief to the back?


Yes there are special office chairs with adjustable seat, back, tilting, and arm-rests. Look on the internet if you can find a supplier near to your home.


2.Which exercises are the best for back?


Get out of your chair every 45 minutes and stretch while standing upright. Slowly reach with your hands to the sky moving your arms sidewards and then slowly back and then again several times.
Try to make your back hollow by slowly leaning backward en then make it round by slowly moving forward. Do not overstress! If you already have a medical condition, consult with your doctor.


3. Can one avoid the back ache by working according to the standard and ideal working conditions? For examlple, whether monitor should be above the eye level or it should be parallal?


A monitor should ideally be at eye level. You should be able to look straight forward without bending either back or neck. Look at Gerard's advice.


4. Does tying an orthopaedic belt on the waist relieves the back ache?


No, see "painkillers". It will also weaken the muscles of your back, as the belt will give the support that your muscles actually should provide, thereby making things worse.


5. Is there any proper sitting posture which helps in avoiding the back ache?


When you type, your lower arms should make a 90° degree angle with your upper arms while your upper body from the abdomen up is straight. In this position you should have the centre of your monitor at eye level looking straight forward.

I always have this tendency to let my shoulders hang down and letting my abdomen slip forward on the seat. This is really asking for trouble. Try to keep the lower part of your back a bit hollow, like it naturally would be when you are walking. Adjust the height of your monitor, keyboard and seat to match in such a way that you will be able to adapt the proper posture for typing work.


6. Is there any special diet which strengthens the bones?


That you will have to ask your physician.


7. Can a person take Calcium tablets (one per day) for always to make the bones powerful? Does it relieve the back pain?


My aunt used to do that to prevent getting brittle bones after the age of 50. Of what I have heard it's total nonsense. Anyway a human body cannot absorb calcium in the form of calciumcarbonate or calciumhydroxide. Just maintain a well balanced diet.
http://www.ivu.org/nzvs/nutri/nutri.htm


Any suggestion in this respect will be highly appreciated.


It may sound a bit of a nasty advice, but also try to higher your rates whenever possible.

Best regards

[Edited at 2005-12-20 14:02]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 04:39
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Or the opposite Dec 20, 2005

For me worked the opposite remedy. "Good office chairs" caused back problems, a normal wooden chair from Ikea proved to be much better. And I would rather lower my screen, but most of these flat screens nowadays wont allow it, because the are fixed. Lower the desk at least. Funny, I had this office desk for 20 years, but when we moved this automn and a door was too narrow (we tried to get it into the elevator) one of the carriers found out that the legs can be screwed deeper in. In the end even that did not help, we had to carry the desk to the third floor, but now my desk is about 5 cm lower than it had been all the years, and typing is much easier. The keyboard support almost touches my thighs, and my wrist is quite straigt when typing.

When I was 30 - 45 years, I had regular back pains, but later it got better, and now with 57 I was able to help carry heavy furniture without any problems.

Exercise: regular exercise, walking, (nordic walking is best!), skiing, swimming, but at least 4 times a week. Once a week can make the back worse.
And yes, definitely raise your rates.

Regards
Heinrich


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Sara Freitas
France
Local time: 03:39
French to English
A good chair and the right desk height Dec 20, 2005

This site has some good tips:
http://www.healthycomputing.com/office/

About 18 months ago, I was starting to feel the effects of long hours at the computer (upper and lower back pain, aching hand from the mouse and other aches and pains that just wouldn't go away).

I took advantage of a move to a new apartment to change my office furniture. After doing a bit of research, it turned out that the Herman Miller Aeron chair was the best on the market (according to reviewers). After much hesitation (the chair is expensive) I bought one and a year later, I can say that this chair has changed the way I feel physically and is worth its weight in gold.

After buying my Aeron, well, I didn't have very much money left over for office furniture so I went to Ikea. They have a great line of modular office furniture. The key feature is that you can adjust the height of the worktables/desks. Since everything is at the right height, I don't need a footrest. My monitor is slightly below eye level, but tilted up so that I don't have to bend my head down.

The other thing I do is change mouse hands periodically. It is a real pain at first, but you get used to it quickly and it helps reduce strain. That, and keyboard shortcuts. I am trying to learn new ones all the time to reduce use of the mouse.

The most important thing, which others have already said, is exercise. Everything from getting up periodically to a nice long walk or yoga session.

By the way, my mattress is as hard as a rock. I don't really notice anything special about this until I sleep somewhere other than my own bed (usually on something much softer) and wake up feeling all stiff and sore. So I think a firm mattress is also a good choice.

Hope you feel better soon!

Sara


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Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 03:39
German to English
+ ...
Work-out studio Dec 20, 2005

Several years ago I occasionally had acute back pain in the lower back, which came on very suddenly and meant that I could only walk veeeerrry slowly and with great pain, and putting my socks on in the morning was an extremely difficult (and painful) task. The pain wore off in a few days so that I could live and move normally again, but those few days were very difficult.

A few years ago I started going to a fitness studio once a week for a session which was called "health sport" and included supervised stretching exercises. I am still (almost) regular there, and these extreme back pains have not recurred. Sometimes my back hurts a bit (if I sit wrongly for a time, or if I lie wrongly at night), but it is several years since I had such pain putting my socks on.

The other suggestions in this thread are also helpful (I also have an office chair that supports my back, and the top of my 19" screen is level with my eyes and at a sufficient distance, etc.). But as someone said above, back pain is often connected with the muscles, and strengthening the muscles in the back is often the best remedy in the long term.


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Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:39
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Speech recognition; arrmchair; gym Dec 20, 2005

Typing at a computer keyboard forces the body into a cramped posture. Instead, invest in speech recognition software and a comfortable armchair. Also join a local gym, preferably with a swimming pool, to give your upper body muscles some gentle exercise.

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xxxSanjiv Sadan
Local time: 08:09
English to Hindi
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for your response, but I could not quite understand.. Dec 20, 2005

..........the logic behind your advice regarding raising the rates. Do you mean that I will get less work if I revise my rates upwards, as a result I'll toil less which will ultimately result in getting rid of back ache?!

MarcPrior wrote:

Sanjiv Sadana wrote:

I generally keep working for 9 to 13 hours on an average and this is telling on my back as I am having severe back ache.

I would be thankful if you could advise me how should I handle this problem.


Raise your rates.

Marc


Direct link Reply with quote
 
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