There’s no way around it—back injuries are a huge pain. From causing you to miss work to limiting your daily life, there’s a lot more to back injuries than just the physical pain, too. That’s why it’s best to avoid them in the first place!
While such simple solutions are always easier said than done, starting with a foundation of knowledge can help you reduce back injury risk at work and remain pain-free. Whether you’re in a line of work that involved heavy lifting and physical activity, or your job requires hours of stationary sitting, we have some tips and tricks for you.
Know the Risks of the Job
Not all jobs put the same stress on your back. As such, it’s important to know the risks associated with your work. While there are variables to every job, the two main categories are active jobs that require heavy lifting and jobs that involve long periods of sitting.
Reducing Active Risks
Lifting heavy objects, especially repeatedly, can lead to strain and injury. Much of the risk associated with lifting comes from poor technique and overexertion. To reduce to possibility of back injuries when lifting heavy objects, there are a few key things to practice and remember.
- Ask for help when you need it.
- Learn proper lifting form, including the correct stance, bracing your core, and lifting with your legs (not your back).
- Use the right equipment, such as a lifting belt, when necessary.
- Stay straight when lifting and carrying heavy objects. In other words, do not twist your body when under load.
Reducing Stationary Risks
Jobs that don’t require lifting are not necessarily safer for your back. In fact, there are numerous potential problems caused by prolonged sitting, including the impact of poor posture. Be sure to follow the tips below to protect your back.
- Focus on ergonomics. Ensure your desk is the right height, your chair is properly supportive, your keyboard is comfortable, and your screen doesn’t force you to turn your head.
- Work on your posture, including sitting up straight and keeping your spine in alignment while working.
- Don’t neglect breaks. Taking even just a few minutes here and there to move, stretch, and be somewhat active will work wonders for your back.
Stretch and Exercise
What you do outside of work can be equally as important as the protective steps taken at work—if not more so. That’s why implementing an exercise and stretching routine that is appropriate to your health and fitness level is vital.
There are several important muscle groups in the body that affect posture and can help limit the possibility of back injury when properly conditioned. Stretching and strengthening your hamstrings, neck, hip flexors, and back are great places to start.
For a more comprehensive plan, speak to your doctor. They’ll be happy to recommend a handful of exercises and stretches designed for your current level of fitness.
If you are concerned about your back and the possibility of encountering an injury at work, the best thing you can do is voice those concerns to your doctor. They have the expertise to help you identify your risks and face them. With a bit of knowledge and effort, your back is likely to remain healthy for years to come!