Low back pain is a common condition in the UK with an estimated 85% of the population suffering with low back pain at some point in their lives. This is normally seen in the 35–60-year-old age group, with many of the sufferers putting their pain down to work. In many cases this can turn into a more severe situation named chronic low back pain. It is estimated by NICE (2009) that this is the number-two reason for taking time off work, costing the UK economy around £5 billion per year. This is a staggering number, and when you look at the fact that this equates to approximately 50 million lost days of work, it is clear to see that low back pain has a massive effect on the economy.
As an employer, there needs to be some form of training initiated in the workplace to help protect employees. This often covers moving and handling, and desk-based ergonomics. The idea behind this training is to make sure that employees initiate the best possible work-based practices to avoid putting their backs under excessive stress and therefore reducing the risk of back pain. This is of vital importance to employers because if they do not provide training they will be in a position where they may be liable for injuries under health and safety legislation. It has been estimated by insurers that claims regarding injury to backs equates to 30% of all accident liability claims.
The cost is not just to the employers, with the NHS spending around £1.6 billion treating back pain. All in all, this mounts up to cost the overall economy a huge amount each year. This has led to calls from many sectors for an improved emphasis on back care, which in turn has led to the demand for people who can help with the rehabilitation of back pain over the course of a treatment plan.
As a personal trainer with the Level 4 Low Back Pain qualification, your role would be instrumental in tackling this major issue. Your role can be divided into three main areas:
Prevention – through effective exercise programming, you can help to strengthen the supporting structures of the spine and core. This will help at-risk populations especially to avoid the prospect of low back pain. These kinds of services are in demand often by companies who want to be able to demonstrate that they have systems in place that help employees to cope with the loads that are placed upon their bodies.
Rehabilitation – many physiotherapists now seek to pass off clients to qualified personal trainers to deliver post-rehabilitation exercise. How this normally works is a physiotherapist will design a treatment plan and carry out any initial rehabilitation. Once they have reached a point of stability, the client will be passed on to a Level 4 Low Back Pain personal trainer to carry out further rehabilitation through exercise. This will be carried out as directed by the treatment plan and under the supervision of a qualified physiotherapist.
Education – this is another aspect to prevention really. Many personal trainers are involved with corporate well-being and working with companies to make their staff healthier and therefore more productive. One aspect of this role is to help employees understand the stresses and strains their bodies are under, particularly in the seated position, and what they can do to counteract this.
The choice of Level 4 qualifications has opened up a broader and wider range of services than can be offered by the traditional personal trainer. This is an exciting time to get involved in helping people who are often suffering with chronic pain and discomfort and helping them to return back to functionality and a normal life!