Workplace injuries are common, regardless of field. While certain high-risk jobs do come with an increased possibility of injury, even office jobs where you remain seated most of the day can lead to back pain.
Preventing these common injuries in the workplace not only allows you to perform your best but also protects your body from unnecessary wear and tear and gives you a fuller life outside of work. The goal, then, is to avoid back injuries when on the job.
Thankfully, there are a few simple steps you can take to preserve and protect your health when working. By following a few simple tips, you can greatly reduce the risk of back injury and continue to thrive at work and beyond. Check them out below.
Know the Risks
In order to combat the risk of back injury, you must first be familiar with the most common causes. While there are nuances to each threat—and the occasional freak accident does occur—there are three primary categories of risk: force, inactivity, and repetition.
Force injuries almost always involve heavy objects. Whether you are lifting or moving the heavy item, exerting too much force with improper form, flexibility, strength, and so on can cause back trauma.
Inactivity, on the other hand, is nearly the polar opposite. Often, back injuries from inactivity occur when you have a desk job, especially if poor posture or inadequate back support are involved.
The last category of injury—those caused by repetition—is usually linked to movements that are repeated over and over again. Even if there is little to no weight involved, overuse and repeated rotation of the spine can lead to a back injury.
Your Body Knows Best
Your body will usually alert you of possible injury before it happens. By learning to listen to your body and acknowledge the warning signs, you can actively work to prevent injury from occurring.
For example, if you sit for extended periods, your body may respond with stiffness and discomfort. If you catch these signs early, you can respond by getting up to move around and stretch your legs and back. By listening to your body and responding accordingly, you can effectively prevent workplace injuries.
Practice Proper Form
If your job involves heavy lifting and carrying, it is essential that you utilize proper form when performing such tasks. While we are not lifting coaches, there are a few basic items on the lifting checklist you should always have in mind when executing a lift.
First, stand close to the object to limit lower back stress. Bend at the knees (not the back), tighten the muscles through your core and lower back, and use your legs to stand up with the item. If you are carrying the object, be sure to hug it to your body as you move. Most importantly, do not twist your spine when lifting and ask for help if the object is too heavy.
Perfect Your Posture
Whether you are lifting heavy objects or sitting at a desk, your posture is an integral element to maintaining back health. When standing, take care to distribute your weight evenly and avoid slouching. When sitting, try to choose a chair that offers appropriate support to your lower back. Your feet should also be able to rest flat, whether they reach the ground or you utilize a footrest.
An often-overlooked step to achieving good posture when sitting is removing items from your back pockets. Cellphones and wallets can lead to imbalances in your posture when sat on, and over time, these small objects can cause big problems.
Following the tips above will move you one step closer to preserving your back health, regardless of the work you do. For more helpful tips, including advice specifically tailored to your unique situation, consider consulting your doctor. They will gladly work with you to fix any preexisting risk factors and avoid work-related back injuries.