Preventing Back Pain at Work
Whether you’re returning to work after a back injury, or you’re looking to avoid injuring your back while working, there are some things to keep in mind around where you work and how. Occupational hazards may exist at your place of work that it is necessary to avoid altogether, or find methods of increasing the likelihood of your safety. Having an injured back will not just make work difficult, it can make life difficult, as well, especially if you end up with chronic pain.
What Are Some General Back Health Ideas?
Exercising is always a good idea, even if it’s just a little. You can simply walk, which also helps strengthen your muscles, including your heart. You can speak with your physical therapist if walking is too difficult for you, as well. You can find options that work better for your lifestyle and your physical comfort.
If you commute to work, here are some suggestions to help with the pain that can cause:
- You should adjust your seat to make sure you are causing as little stress on your back as possible
- This includes bringing the seat forward so that you do not bend forward while driving.
- If your commute is a long one, it is a good rule of thumb to stop every hour and walk around, to loosen up your muscles
- After your long commute, wait some time before you lift anything heavy
What’s the Best Way to Lift?
You should know your limits before lifting anything. Don’t lift anything so heavy it is going to injure you or reinjure you. If you need help lifting something, get help – there’s no shame in asking, especially since your health is at stake. Here are some general steps for safe lifting:
- Bend at your knees, not at your waist
- Lift with your knees, not your back – also squat when lowering
- Stand as close as you can to whatever you are lifting and hold it as close to you as you can while you lift
- When you stand, spread your feet apart for support
- Always lift slowly
- Don’t twist your back while lifting, or lift or carry the object
What Are Other Changes I Can Make at Work?
If your work involves sitting at a computer, be sure your chair’s back is straight and adjustable. Always get up for 10 to 15 minutes at intervals that work for you, to walk around and limber up. Avoid standing for extended periods of time, and if you must, it is recommended to alternate resting either foot on a stool, to help reduce the overall load on one side of your body.
Back pain affects many Americans, and unfortunately the American workplace is often a place where many hazards exist that can cause or exacerbate back pain. Speak with a doctor or physical therapist if you’re not sure what is healthy to lift and what is healthy to do given the current state of your back and your health.