One of the most common injuries in the workplace involves your back. Even minor injuries can affect productivity and quality of life. Severe injuries can mean the inability to work at all. Dr. Charla Fischer has found that a significant number of patients come in with back complaints somehow related to their jobs. The best protection against back injuries in the workplace is prevention.
Certainly, many work-related back injuries happen performing jobs that require lots of manual labor. Lifting or moving heavy objects is at the top of the list of risky behaviors for your back. Any type of work that places strain or heavy weight on your back can cause problems, especially if performed incorrectly. Another culprit for back injuries is repetitive behaviors. Frequent movements performed over and over can injure the back, such as bending or twisting motions. Even carrying light weights can strain the back if done again and again. You might be surprised that it doesn’t always take movement to injure your back at work. Jobs that require prolonged periods of sitting, especially when you don’t practice good posture, may also be bad for your back. Sedentary jobs tend to lead to chronic back pain as opposed to acute pain.
The key to maintaining a healthy back at work is prevention. Here are some ways to help keep your back safe while working:
- Practice proper lifting techniques: Use your legs to lift objects instead of bending your back. Use your legs muscles and your core muscles to lift straight up without twisting your back. Always ask someone to assist you when an object is too heavy to be safely lifted alone.
- Find ways to avoid repetitive movements: If your job requires performing the same tasks many times, consider ways to minimize those movements. Wear a headset to talk on the phone so you don’t lean to answer a handset or cradle the phone with your neck. Ask your employer about tools to help lift objects such as forklifts or dollies. There are many options if you are creative about avoiding repetitive movements on the job.
- Practice good posture: No matter if you’re moving around or if you’re sitting at a desk, practice good posture throughout the day. Stand tall when walking, don’t slouch at your desk, sit with both feet flat on the floor or use a footstool, and select an ergonomic chair and desk setup.
- Strengthen your core muscles: Your core muscles are the ones in the middle of your body such as your abdomen and obliques. These muscles give you strength and stability when standing, lifting, bending, or twisting. To avoid back injuries, strengthen your core muscles by regularly performing abdominal exercises. Dr. Fischer can provide a list of safe suggestions for core strengthening exercises.
- Regularly stretch your muscles: Flexibility is another vital part of a healthy body, including your back. Tight muscles in your back, core, legs, arms and more will increase your risk for injuries at work. Learn gentle stretching exercises from someone like spine surgeon Dr. Fischer that will loosen your muscles and help you maintain needed balance and support while you perform your everyday tasks. Also remember to take regular breaks from sedentary jobs by walking around at least once every hour.
- Strive for good overall health: Make good choices about your overall health so that you’ll be less likely to become injured on the job or elsewhere. You’ll not only be more likely to avoid injuries, you’ll also heal faster if you do get hurt. Some tips are to exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, drink lots of water, stretch your body, practice good posture, get enough sleep, maintain a healthy diet, and quit smoking.
It doesn’t matter what type of job you have, back injuries can be prevented if you take precautions and be smart about the choices you make throughout your day. Schedule a consultation today if you experience back pain or if you’d like to get more ideas about how to keep your back healthy at work.