Backbone of the nation damaged

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The Independent Online
THAT TRADITIONAL scourge of supermarket shoppers - the wobbling trolley - could be seriously damaging the nation's health, a leading physiotherapist warned yesterday.

Large, unwieldy, unsteerable trolleys are causing chronic damage to the lower and upper backs of shoppers, contributing to a national epidemic of back problems.

The claim was made by Alison Middleditch, who wrote the standard physiotherapy textbook on back pain. She was supported by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, which called on supermarkets to take these dangers into account when designing new trolleys and to provide more help with packing.

Mrs Middleditch issued her warning after seeing the damaging effects of trolleys at first hand. "I saw three women last week who had suffered damage to their lower and upper backs after twisting round to control and steer their trolleys and bending over to unpack and pack their goods," she said.

"The constant twisting and bending places strains on the spine and can lead to damage to the ligaments and discs."

Doctors deal with 12 million consultations for back pain every year and the problem costs the NHS pounds 500m in prescriptions, physiotherapy and other treatments. More than 300,000 working days are lost to industry each year because of back pain, at a cost of pounds 1.3bn.