In the fifth in a series of columns aimed at helping people avoid or recover from injury and prepare well to participate in sport, motion sports therapist Stuart Farmer looks at back ache and the desk-bound athlete.

OUR backs are an amazing collection of bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves that are constructed to make it an incredibly strong and highly flexible structure.

In a healthy back, complexed groups of muscles work to support the spine and help hold the body upright.

These large muscle groups also enable the torso to move, twist, and bend in many different directions.

Prehistoric man was a hunter-gatherer who spent the day upright or sitting on his haunches.

Evolution and modern life have changed the way we move, sit and hold our posture.

And this, in turn, has had a huge effect on our back function as we no longer hunt for our prey on foot.

We sit in the car a drive to the shops!

Tension normally develops in the muscles of the shoulders, neck and back when we sit in the same position for many hours at a time.

This tension is one of the main reasons people seek treatment from a massage therapist.

This muscular pain is commonly caused in whole or in part from a reduced blood supply to muscles when forced to maintain shortened or lengthened positions in order to support a static posture.

The tension caused from sitting all day can also deactivate your glutes and tighten your hip flexors and hamstrings, therefore throwing your stride off balance.

This means if you are a keen amateur athlete who spends the working week tied to a desk, it is vital to make time to stretch these muscle groups.

Prolonged tightness around these areas will, over time, travel up into the lower back as the hamstrings and then glutes pull down on the muscles around the lumbar spine.

Stuart runs a mobile service, Motion Sports Therapy, delivering treatments to your home, office or sports club. Find out more by visiting or contact him on 07776 092540.