Even in 2022, back pain is still the number one widespread disease in Germany. What is the reason for this and how can back pain be prevented? In an interview, management trainer Conny Schumacher explains what is important in office work to stay fit. The Munich-based expert also talks about the challenges for companies posed by the increasing number of home offices and about the personal "stubbornness" that we all have to overcome in order to move more.
AerisHello Conny, you are a sports economist and have been a personal trainer for many years, among others for high-ranking managers . You know how important exercise is - also and especially at work. What is your tip for regular exercise in the office and home office, especially to prevent back pain?
Conny Schumacher: First of all, I always recommend the classics to my clients: a good(!!!) ergonomic office chair and a suitable height-adjustable desk so that you can regularly switch between standing and sitting. Here - quite honestly - I don't argue. I can only give very limited advice to those who cannot afford this equipment. After all, why should I charge money as a personal trainer if my client is not willing to invest the most necessary in himself or herself?
When it comes to exercise, in addition to alternating between sitting and standing, it is good to take a short walk around the house - or if possible, through the garden - from time to time. Regular exercise for the back is also a good way to prevent back pain. There are plenty of exercise videos online. Everyone can find the right one for them.
And quite honestly: nowadays no one should have back pain at work. Those who still have them have simply not yet sufficiently addressed the issue of the right ergonomic equipment and sufficient movement at work.
"The right office equipment is the be-all and end-all," says management trainer Conny Schumacher.
Photo: Dorothe Willeke Jungfermann
AerisThe world of work has undergone a major transformation in recent years, particularly as a result of digitalisation . The key words are new work and hybrid working. What challenges and problems do you see companies facing in order to keep employees fit and healthy in the long term?
Conny Schumacher: Hybrid working is a new development that I think is wonderful. You no longer sit rigidly at the same desk for days on end. You sit here and there. You work sometimes standing up, sometimes sitting down or - if possible - sometimes outdoors. Hybrid working gives us the opportunity for variety and more movement in our working day.
However, I think one challenge is "digital overload." What do I mean by that? If we only do everything online, we run the risk of having problems "coming down" and switching off in the evening. That's why, in my view, a mix of hybrid working and the classic "offline" office is best. Despite all the digitalisation, the classic office has advantages that are "unbeatable" - for example, the personal exchange with colleagues and common breaks.
It is important: In addition to the body, it is above all the mind that needs recovery phases. Meditation and yoga are very helpful here. But also simply switching off all devices and reading a book brings the mind to rest.
AerisThe lack of movement in the home office has once again exacerbated the No. 1 widespread disease - back pain. Are many managers even aware of the importance of the right equipment in the home office?
Conny Schumacher: I think so. After all, many managers suffer from it themselves. That's why they know how their employees are feeling. But it is, like so much in life, often a question of money. Do I buy my employees decent office furniture or do I save the budget? I don't want to generalise, but definitely too little is being done! As I mentioned earlier, I still maintain that today no one should have back pain when sitting!
Therefore, it is imperative that companies also continue to raise awareness of the importance of movement during work.
Especially in the home office, the right equipment is crucial for sufficient movement and a healthy back. The Aeris Swopper keeps you moving even when you are sitting, while your back always remains straight. This prevents back problems.
AerisKeyword : Raising awareness. In your opinion, what else should companies do - apart from the right equipment - to keep their employees fit and healthy?
Conny Schumacher:Many companies already have fitness courses, spine schools and many other offers. Also online, for the home office. So a lot is already being done. Even regular massages are offered in some companies. In fact, my experience is often different: Employees also have to get involved a little themselves. Many offers are - for a variety of reasons - only used a little or not at all. Therefore, it is always easy to blame the employer. However, my back and my physical health are largely my own responsibility. My experience is that people want to save too much on things like a decent office chair or a decent mattress to sleep on. However, that is saving money at the wrong end and no employer can do anything about it!
We have to overcome our bastard to do something good for ourselves.
Sports economist and management trainer
AerisYou have already mentioned it several times . Besides the employer, you also have a personal responsibility to stay fit, healthy and productive. Do you have any tips for physical and mental fitness?
Conny Schumacher: And here I like to repeat myself again: It's all there, really. Many of my clients know everything - and in some cases more than I do. But they just don't do it. And if we know and don't do it, it's definitely not because of the offer. It's because of ourselves. We have to get over our stinker in order to do something good for ourselves.
My tip is: start and do it!
Don't put it off any longer, but get active and do something good for your back and mind on a regular basis. There are many simple ways. For example, simply go for a walk during your lunch break instead of "paddling around" on your mobile phone. Or from now on always take the stairs instead of the lift. You can also start a small exercise group with colleagues or neighbours in the evening. Swimming is also very good for back pain. I advise everyone to simply take a swimming course. You make new contacts and do something good for your physical well-being.
Even very "banal" things like writing a food diary as a basis for a healthier diet or treating yourself to a massage or a hot bath more often help your body and mind. Honestly: that's already half the battle!
And if you really don't manage to move more on your own, or you don't like what the company has to offer, then there is still a professional who can help you achieve your goals. But then you have to pay for that. But then there are no more excuses. It's important to realise what it costs in the long run - well-being and money - if you just carry on like this and don't take care of your health.
About Conny Schumacher
As a management trainer, Conny Schumacher, who studied sports economics, has been conveying the importance of interlinking physical, emotional and mental performance for many years. In her lectures, she trains employees and managers and uses practical examples to show how mental and physical performance can be permanently improved and consolidated.
As a book author, Conny Schumacher published, among others, the book "Fit im Büro - in nur 60 Sek. wieder voller Konzentration und Energie am Arbeitsplatz. In her bestselling e-book "Erfolg geht anders - Top-Speaker verraten, was wirklich zählt" (Success is different - top speakers reveal what really counts), the experienced trainer reveals the essence of her method.