How to ...

Do invest in a Bambach Saddle Seat (£399-00 plus VAT; 0800581108 ) for work. No more slouching at your desk, as it allows your spine to function in its optimal, natural curve and strengthens core stability muscles while relaxing those in the shoulders, according to a recent study in the International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation.

Do ditch your hard mattress. For years they were recommended as an antidote to back pain but, according to the results of a study published in The Lancet, orthopaedic specialists found that medium-soft mattresses are more beneficial when it comes to alleviating back problems.

Don't try strenuous forms of yoga or extreme stretches. A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that a gentle yoga class was better for back pain sufferers than general exercise. But Dr Karen Sherman, who led the study, said that other types of yoga, and classes with unqualified instructors, could make back problems worse.

Do take up Pilates. This concentrates on strengthening the body's core muscles around the lower back and stomach to increase flexibility, stability and alignment. Last year, a study at Queensland university in Australia proved this to be true. One-on-one sessions are preferable for those with certain specific problems.

Don't put off that diet any longer. A study of seven to 15-year-olds at the University of Michigan found no link between the weight of the bags they carried to school, and the incidence of backache. But the more overweight children were three times as likely to suffer pain. Being too heavy, whatever your age, "affects posture and alignment and is among the most common causes of back pain", says Dr Peter Skew, a GP who is also president of the British Institute of Musculoskeletal Medicine.

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