Many factors in the workplace can cause back pain including heavy lifting, repetitive movements and sitting at a desk all day. It is essential to understand the facts about back pain at work to learn how to prevent it. Common causes of back pain at work are:
· Force- Exerting too much force on your back — such as by lifting or moving heavy objects — can cause injury.
· Repetition- Repeating certain movements, especially those that involve twisting or rotating your spine, can injure your back.
· Inactivity- Both an active job or a desk job can contribute to back pain, especially if you have poor posture or sit all day in a chair with inadequate back support.
Back pain and lifestyle factors-
Factors such as aging, being overweight, and poor physical condition also can contribute to back pain. It is essential to maintain a healthy weight to minimize stress on your back. To keep a healthy weight, it is necessary to eat a healthy diet. It is also vital to ensure that you consume enough calcium and vitamin D because these nutrients can help prevent osteoporosis, a condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle and is responsible for many of the bone fractures that lead to back pain.
It is crucial to combine aerobic exercise (swimming, walking, etc.) with exercises that strengthen and stretch your back muscles and abdomen. Exercises that increase your balance and strength can also decrease your risk of falling and injuring your back. (consider yoga and weight-bearing exercises). The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity — preferably spread throughout the week — and strength training exercises at least twice a week.
Preventing back pain at work-
You can take steps to avoid and prevent back pain and injuries at work. For example:
Pay attention to posture:
When standing, balance your weight evenly on your feet. Don’t slouch. To promote good posture when sitting, choose a chair that supports your spinal curves. Adjust the height of your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor or a footrest and your thighs are parallel to the floor. Remove your wallet or cell phone from your back pocket when sitting to prevent putting extra pressure on your buttocks or lower back.
When lifting and carrying a heavy object, lift with your legs and tighten your core muscles. Hold the object close to your body. Maintain the natural curve of your back. Don’t twist when lifting. If an object is too heavy to lift safely, ask someone to help you.
Modify repetitive tasks:
Use lifting devices, when available, to help you lift loads. Try to alternate physically demanding tasks with less demanding ones. If you work at a computer, make sure that your monitor, keyboard, mouse, and chair are positioned correctly. If you frequently talk on the phone and type or write at the same time, place your phone on speaker or use a headset. Avoid unnecessary bending, twisting and reaching. Limit the time you spend carrying heavy briefcases, purses, and bags. Consider using a rolling suitcase.
Listen to your body:
If you must sit for a prolonged period, change your position often. Periodically walk around and gently stretch your muscles to relieve tension.
It is essential to examine your work environment and address situations that might aggravate your back. Even simple steps to ease or prevent back pain are steps in the right direction.
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