Some 80 percent of all Americans will experience some level of severe back pain in their lives and, as the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons suggests, work-related injury is the leading cause.
The CDC found that improper lifting of heavy objects and protracted sitting are among the leading causes of work-related back pain. Exerting too much force, repetition and stress on your back, in conjunction with poor posture, can lead to a variety of aches, pains, tension and muscle injury.
The Lower Back (Lumbar Spine)
Most back injuries are of the lower back - lumbar spine. The lower back has a lot of motion and carries all of the weight of the torso. While there are five motion segments in the lower back, the lowest segments are the most often injured as they possess the most motion. The lowest two discs in the lower back are also the most frequently herniated. However, muscle strain is still the most common back injury.
There are precautions that can be taken to prevent injuries. Please consider these tips to protect your back in the workplace.
Fine-tune Your Workstation and Workday
Rethink your office environment or work area. Think about a new ergonomic chair for your desk, along with a headset for your telephone. Also, make sure your computer and monitor are installed at a proper sight-line level.
In more physical environments, consider the use of lifting belts, adjustable equipment and devices such as dollies, wheelbarrows, tow motors and the like, to help you lift heavy loads.
Finally, consider restructuring your workload to minimize or remove any dangerous movements. If you are unable to do so, limit your time handling heavy.
Sit and Stand With Good Posture
Poor posture strains your back, which can lead to muscle fatigue and injury. In contrast, good posture eases tension on muscles. When sitting, consider a chair that supports your lower back, augmented with a footstool, box or even small trash receptacle for resting your feet. Otherwise, consider keeping your feet flat on the floor.
The same goes for standing. Be sure to keep any reading material at eye level while avoiding any forward leaning or bending that might bring your back out of alignment.
Take Active Breaks From Your Desk
Get up, stretch and walk around every hour and engage in some repetitive stretching exercises at your desk. This can help decrease stiffness and increase flexibility in your back.
Proper Lifting Techniques
When lifting objects, especially heavier items, remember to stand squarely in front of the item, bending down and using your knees, hips and legs to do most of the lifting.
Try to keep your back relatively straight while keeping the items close to your front. This helps to distribute the weight of the items more evenly.
Be Fit, Stay Fit
Just because you're physical at work doesn't mean you can "phone it in" when it comes to physical activity and exercise outside of work hours. Walking, running, cycling and other regular activity is the easiest way to keep your weight low, which reduces stress on your body's frame and keeps your back healthy.
If you're a member of a gym, consider asking a trainer to walk you through some core-strengthening exercises, which keep abdominal and back muscles sturdy. Working on conditioning, balance and coordination will also help keep you steady on your feet.
If your body is giving you any signs of repetitive pain in your neck or back, this is a warning that you may be in danger of a severe strain. Try to stop, stretch and take a break.
If you have incurred a back injury, or any other type of injury, at work, call an experienced attorney to learn of your legal options.
Article provided by Cousins, Desrosiers, And Morizio, PC
Visit us at www.cdm-lawfirm.com