A Simple Guide to Reducing Back Pain at Work
Our jobs today come in many forms and physical labor requirements. Most of the occupations in which we are employed are not back health-friendly, from continuously slouching in our desk chairs while typing on a computer keyboard, to repetitively lifting heavy objects while laboring at a construction site. At least somewhat-related to our various jobs, back pain strikes over 30 million Americans each year. At some point, back pain begins to interfere with our home and social lives, and often leads to poor sleep patterns.
Causes of Work-Related Back Pain Include Poor Posture
According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, the most common causes of job-related back pain, which can be chronic or acute in nature, include:
- Excessive force on the spine and surrounding tissues due to lifting, supporting, carrying or holding heavy objects
- Repetitive movements such as twisting, stooping, or bending
- Inactivity when you are confined to a specific area, typically sitting down, all day
- Poor posture which can manifest while seated or standing up
In addition, other personal lifestyle choices can exacerbate the onset, and symptom severity, of back pain. Those are things like poor nutrition, smoking cigarettes, being overweight and obese, and lack-of-exercise to strengthen one’s core trunk and back muscles. A previous back surgery, trauma to the spine, osteoarthritis, age, and other factors, when combined back-stressing employment, is a recipe for life-long, back problem issues.
Stress, which most of us would agree is a part of our daily workplace settings, also can trigger, and worsen, back pain. Fortunately, there are steps you can take while employed in a back-unfriendly setting that may help reduce the likelihood of suffering from back pain’s nasty onset and severity. Here are a few pointers that most back pain experts are in agreement on.
Lift Heavy Objects Carefully and Properly
If on-the-job lifting is required, back experts recommend bending at the knees, with your core trunk muscles tight, while holding the object you are picking up close to your body. Try not to twist your back and spine unnaturally, as you use the strength of your legs to rise up, with the heavy item in your hands. Oh, and if the object in question is simply too heavy for you to lift, swallow your pride and get some help! Otherwise, by the next morning your back pain will be reminding you that you didn’t.
Avoid Repetitive Movements Whenever Possible
These correlate to many of our employment tasks, like sitting statue-like in front of a computer screen all day, to loading or unloading semi-trucks by hand for hours on end. Try to find ways to alternate your work activities whenever possible, and without getting fired, of course. For example, take a few minutes away from your office work station to get up, stretch, or walk around to encourage blood circulation to your spine and back’s soft tissue components.
If at all possible, limit your repetitive movements at work to help ward off back pain flare-ups.
Exercise to Strengthen Core Trunk and Back Muscles
Back pain specialists also stress the importance of exercising and building the strength up of your core trunk and back muscles. This will reduce the odds of suffering strains and sprains to your spinal region from lifting heavy objects, or standing and sitting for prolonged periods of time. Having a strengthened core will also assist you in using correct posture throughout the day, a topic which we will address further in a moment.
Cut Out Lifestyle Choices that Worsen Your Back’s Health
As aforementioned, poor personal lifestyle choices can most definitely worsen the symptoms and potential odds of a back pain episode’s onset and severity. Those include smoking tobacco, not exercising regularly, eating poorly, and being overweight. Of all the methods to improve one’s overall back health, these modalities, along with improving your posture, are the easiest to implement. These positive changes will also carry over into your workday.
Listen to Your Body and Especially Your Back
Our bodies are remarkable for many reasons, and notably from the standpoint that we have built-in pain warning systems. Those associated with your back are no exception, and it is prudent to listen to what they are telling you. If you sense that you are over-exerting your spine and back muscles, you probably are. When the first signs of discomfort and stress manifest, alter or cease completely the job-related activity you are engaged in. The old saying: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” holds true.
Use Correct Posture to Protect Against Back Pain
During all of our waking activities, whether standing or sitting, this is both one of the most important things we can do to ward off back pain, and simplest. Whether seated behind the wheel all day of a city bus, or standing for hours at a cash register, using poor posture, including slouching, will only exacerbate your back pain issues. Proper posture involves keeping your spine straight, with your shoulders back, and chin up and out.
Your body’s overall health will benefit in a number of ways by employing good posture throughout the day, and it certainly can’t do anything but help your back pain problems from worsening. Oh, and studies have found that employees who use correct posture appear more confident and successful.
When you want to improve your posture and overall back health while at work, our design team at Lumo Bodytech has developed a powerful resource called the Lumo Lift. It uses a discretely-worn sensor that resembles a lapel pin to constantly monitor your posture’s job “performance”, and then transmits the data to a free downloadable app that works on iOS or Android devices. At your convenience, you can then view the posture-related data in order to identify and address slouching issues during the next work day, or anytime.
While you are at your place of employment, and when slouching occurs, the Posture Coach’s wearable sensor will also alert you using a gentle vibration felt by your body. Again, this simple reminder will not interfere with your job responsibilities, nor distract your co-workers. All things considered, our objective at Lumo Bodytech is to place the most current posture technology at your fingertips in hopes of assisting you in keeping back pain away from your job site, and out of your life completely. For more information, visit lumobodytech.com.