Disturbing new research has laid bare the alarming extent to which back trouble blights Britain’s workforce.
The official figures show seven people in 10 have lived with recurring neck or back pain for more than a decade and three in 10 took time off work last year.
The number of sick days caused by the condition rocketed by 29 per cent to almost 10 million in the year to 2014.
And yet two-fifths of people have done nothing to protect their backs, according to the British Chiropractic Association, which has issued six golden rules to help avoid problems.
They include; sit up straight, do not remain seated for more than 30 minutes and walk every day.
Last night one chiropractor said: “As modern lifestyles put increasing amounts of strain on our backs and necks, it’s becoming even more important for people to take proactive measures to protect our health.”
The chiropractor, Rishi Loatey, added: “We are seeing more and more people who have been struggling with back pain for longer periods of time. Prevention is always better than cure.
“People are often surprised at the positive impact that simply ensuring you take regular breaks when sitting for long periods of time, or walking regularly, can have on your back.”
More than a third of us complain that lower back pain causes round-the-clock suffering, according to the Office for National Statistics, while as many as six million have not received a diagnosis – and so do not understand how their condition can be treated.
It is estimated that millions of Britons spend at least 10 hours a day working at desks, which has helped cause the unprecedented epidemic.
People’s refusal to seek specialist treatment and couch potato lifestyles magnify the problem.
“We have become far too sedentary. Our bodies and backs are designed to be constantly moving and flexing.
“Too many people have difficulty with simple tasks or are unfit for work, just because we don’t take low back pain seriously enough.
“Most often the cause is postural – prolonged sitting in uncomfortable seats.
“Improving posture and regular breaks can help avoid low back stiffness. Painkillers help, but there’s no substitute for regular movement and physical activity.”
The British Chiropractic Association warns that while sitting in the same position has a bad effect, far too many people spend an entire day without regular breaks.
Research shows half of us soldier on with the help of heat muscle cream and patches, two-fifths rely on over the counter medication and only seven per cent have professional treatment.
Walking is recommended to counter back pain because it puts less strain on the joints than other exercise and maintains bone density.
Adding a few minutes to daily routines, like taking the stairs instead the lift, could provide relief, experts say.
When we reach 50, millions of us put on weight.
This puts added pressure on the spine, joints and muscles.
Carrying those extra pounds can lead to back pain.
It is also common to experience degeneration of the joints, discs and other spinal tissues in our 60s.
Osteoarthritis affects the back just like other joints in the body.
Fidgeting while you sit has been shown to help. BCA chiropractor Tim Hutchful said: “Sitting for long periods can put twice as much pressure on the spine as standing and can also reduce blood flow.
Fidgeting allows the body to redistribute pressure points.”
The BCA has a three minute exercise routine called Straighten Up UK, which is available to view at http://bit.ly/straightenup