If you’re a teacher who’s been burdened by a bad back, fear not! We’re here with some handy tips on how to prevent back pain in the classroom.
Back pain is a global issue that people have quarrelled with since the dawn of time, especially teachers and teaching staff, who are constantly on the go and working at varying heights throughout the school day. Whilst some degree of back pain is sometimes to be expected, if it’s starting to negatively impact your life, then it’s time to make some changes.
Examine Classroom Furniture
We all know what it’s like to feel hopeless when experiencing back pain. But as an early years or primary teacher, the constant bending, twisting, and turning can significantly exasperate the issue and leave you feeling utterly rubbish. There are however some small but significant changes you can make to your classroom environment.
All teaching staff should have access to an appropriate desk and chair to work comfortably. If you’re teaching with limited classroom space and find yourself without a sufficient desk, an affordable option is either a portable laptop table or an overbed table. Both require minimal space and can be stored away, so they make the best use of available space.
Lorna Taylor, the Physiotherapist and Founder of Jolly Back, suggests that teachers use a low, portable chair when working at small children’s desks because the spine discs are incredibly vulnerable to twisting when seated on children’s furniture.
An excellent solution to this is the Jolly Back chair which features an adjustable backrest and a forward sloping seat that allows teachers to relax their legs under small tables. Not only does this provide adequate support, but it’s a great way to prevent back pain as you’re seated with the student rather than standing or crouching.
If you’ve managed to resolve or exhaust all of your options regarding suitable classroom furniture, there are still ways to prevent back pain with your classroom equipment.
Use The Right Classroom Equipment
In the UK, 2.6 million people seek advice from their GP about back pain each year. As a teacher, you can prevent back pain by making use of the equipment around you. The screen of a computer should, for instance, be level with your eyes when you work on it.
If you frequently use a laptop, you should consider investing in a screen raiser, like an overbed table. This simple solution can considerably improve poor posture and daily strain.
Make sure to select and use equipment that is easily mobile and has lockable castors. With lockable castors, moving equipment is much simpler and safer for everyone in the classroom.
Teachers who are constantly on the move will also benefit from using a small ramp to move things around the classroom. This way, rather than lifting heavy equipment trollies when moving from one classroom to another, you can simply wheel the trolley around with ease.
Remember: Try to reduce lifting wherever and whenever possible. Sometimes it can be helpful to ask your students to carry things like books or lightweight equipment, as long as it’s not too heavy for little backs and arms!
Support Outside the Classroom
What about beyond the classroom?
If you carry a bag with a single strap, such as a handbag, wear it across your body and switch sides often. Rucksacks also provide good support for your back as the weight is distributed over your body rather than putting it all on one spot.
The Healthy Working MOVE Initiative is another fantastic tool. Children and teachers can access this free online service to learn how to use technology safely. The initiative encourages teachers to take charge of their physical wellbeing through practical solutions like requesting technology risk assessments.
The health and safety officer at your school will be able to perform risk assessments as required by law. The purpose of these assessments is to identify and eliminate or reduce workplace hazards, such as back injuries caused by ergonomically poor school furniture.
If you want to learn more about how to prevent back pain, download the free Jolly Back Musculoskeletal Health Toolkit to identify target areas for improvement within your organization and provide simple recommendations for improving musculoskeletal health.