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Artikel Mar 22

Expert: "Nobody should have to suffer from back pain at work anymore."

The Aeris expert interview for Back Health Day 2022. In conversation: management trainer Conny Schumacher.

Even in 2022, back pain is still the number one widespread disease in Germany. Why is that and how can you prevent back pain? In an interview, management trainer Conny Schumacher explains what is important when working in an office to stay fit. The Munich-based expert also talks about the challenges facing companies due to increasing home office work and the personal "lazy streak" that we all have to overcome in order to move more.

Aeris: Hello Conny, you are a sports economist and have been a personal trainer for many years, including for high-ranking managers. You know how important exercise is - especially at work. What is your tip for regular exercise in the office and at home, especially to prevent back pain?

Conny Schumacher: I always recommend the classics to my clients first: a good(!!!) ergonomic office chair and a suitable height-adjustable desk so that you can regularly switch between standing and sitting. To be honest, I don't discuss this. If you can't afford this equipment, I can only give you very limited advice. Because why should I, as a personal trainer, charge money if my client isn't prepared to invest the bare essentials in themselves.

In terms of exercise, it is good to alternate between sitting and standing while working and to take a short walk around the house - or, if possible, through the garden. Regular back exercises are also very helpful in preventing back pain. There are plenty of exercise videos online for this. Everyone will find something suitable for themselves.

And to be honest, nowadays nobody should have to suffer from back pain at work. Those who do have it simply haven't paid enough attention to the right ergonomic equipment and enough exercise at work.

Management trainer Conny Schumacher from Munich in an Aeris interview about back pain and exercise during office work.
"The right office equipment is essential," says management trainer Conny Schumacher.
Photo: Dorothe Willeke Jungfermann

Aeris: The world of work has undergone a major change in recent years, particularly due to digitalization. Keywords: New Work and hybrid working. What challenges and problems do you see companies facing in order to ensure that their employees remain 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 standing up, sitting down, or – if possible – outside. Hybrid working gives us the opportunity for variety and more movement in our everyday working lives.

However, in my opinion, one challenge is "overload due to digital working." What I mean by that is: If we only do everything online, there is a risk that we will have problems "winding down" and switching off in the evening. That is why, in my opinion, a mix of hybrid working and the classic "offline" office is best. Despite all the digitalization, the classic office has advantages that are "unbeatable" - for example, personal exchanges with colleagues and shared breaks.

It is important to note that, in addition to the body, the mind needs periods of rest. Meditation and yoga are very helpful here. But simply turning off all devices and reading a book can also help calm the mind.

Aeris: The lack of exercise in the home office has further exacerbated the number one health problem - back pain. Are many managers even aware of the importance of having 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 feel. But, like so many things in life, it's often a question of money. Do I buy my employees decent office furniture or do I save the budget? I don't want to generalize, but not enough is being done! As I mentioned before, I stick to this: today, no one should have back pain when sitting!

It is therefore essential that companies also become more aware of the importance of exercise during work.

Active office chair Aeris Swopper.
Especially in the home office, the right equipment is crucial for sufficient exercise and a healthy back. The Aeris Swopper keeps you moving even when you're sitting, while your back always stays straight. This prevents back problems.

Aeris: Keyword: raising awareness. In your opinion, what else should companies do – besides having the right equipment – ​​to keep employees fit and healthy?

Conny Schumacher: Many companies already offer fitness courses, spine training and many other options. Also online, for home offices. So a lot is already being done. Even regular massages are offered in some companies. My experience is actually often different: the employees also have to get involved themselves. Many offers are used little or not at all - for a variety of reasons. That's why it's always easy to blame the employer. However, my back and my physical health are largely my own responsibility. In my experience, people pay too much attention to the price and want to save money, especially when it comes to things like a decent office chair or a decent mattress to sleep on. But that's saving at the wrong end and it's not the employer's fault!

We have to overcome our laziness in order to do something good for ourselves.

Connie Schumacher

Sports economist and management trainer

Aeris: You've already mentioned it several times. In addition to your employer, you also have personal responsibility to stay fit, healthy and productive. Do you have any tips for physical and mental fitness?

Conny Schumacher: And here I'll repeat myself again: Everything is there, really. Many of my customers know everything - and sometimes more than I do. But they just don't do it. And if we know it and don't do it, it's definitely not the fault of the offer. It's our fault. We have to overcome our laziness to do something good for ourselves.

My advice is: start and do it!

Stop putting it off and get active and do something good for your back and your mind on a regular basis. There are lots of simple ways to do it. For example, just go for a walk during your lunch break instead of fiddling around on your phone. Or always take the stairs instead of the elevator. You can also start a small training group in the evening with colleagues or neighbors. Swimming is also very good for back pain. I advise everyone to just 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 every now and then help your body and mind. Honestly: That’s half the battle!

And if you really can't manage to exercise more on your own, or you don't like what the company offers, you can always hire a professional who can help you achieve your goals. But you'll have to pay them. But then there are no more excuses. It's important to be aware of what it costs in the long run - well-being and money - if you just carry on like this and don't pay attention to your health.

About Conny Schumacher

Conny Schumacher, a sports economist, has been a management trainer for many years, communicating the importance of the integration of physical, emotional and mental performance. In her lectures, she trains employees and managers and uses practical examples to show how mental and physical performance can be permanently improved and strengthened.

As an author, Conny Schumacher has published, among other things, the book "Fit in the office - in just 60 seconds, full of concentration and energy at work again". In her bestselling e-book "Success is different - top speakers reveal what really counts", the experienced trainer reveals the essence of her method.

You can find further information about Conny Schumacher’s work, lectures and workshops here.

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