Job-related back pain is something you don’t have to resign yourself to. Whether you work in construction, transportation, nursing, or some other field where the strain on your back is continual, there are ways that you can minimize the pain even while on the job.
The Importance of Ergonomics to counter Back Pain
First, you need a good grasp of the various interactions between your body and your work environment. Does your job involve a lot of heavy lifting, or a lot of sitting? Both can put stress on your spine, so make sure to take frequent breaks. The standard recommendation is to take a two- or three-minute break every 20 to 40 minutes. This will at least reduce the risk of a lower back injury.
Sitting for long periods will hurt your back unless the chair has good lumbar support: that is, some kind of cushioning that accommodates the natural curve in your back. If there’s no such support, you can use a rolled-up towel or a pillow as a substitute. Also adjust the height of the chair so that your feet are flat on the floor. When using a computer, ensure that your eyes are level with the screen.
Correct Your Posture
Your posture when sitting or lifting will largely determine whether or not you find yourself getting chiropractic care in the future. Keep the back straight, and don’t lean your head forward. Try not to cross your legs (knee over knee), as this will tilt the pelvis and hurt the lower back.
When lifting, lower your body to the object, then lift by straightening your knees. Always hold the object close to you. Don’t twist your body. And never be afraid to ask for help if an object is too heavy for you. When possible, of course, use a lifting machine rather than lifting manually.
Talk to Your Manager
In a similar vein, don’t be afraid to bring up this matter of pain reduction with your manager or supervisor. For example, if your office chair isn’t ergonomic, request one that is. Discuss a change in break times if the current times are insufficient. If back pain at work prevents you from completing certain tasks, be honest about it and see if someone else can be permanently assigned to those tasks.
Alternating Between Tasks
It’s not just excessive force that can cause back pain at work; it’s the repetition of little tasks that can sometimes harm you. This is, again, where frequent breaks can be of great help. But also alternate between tasks that are physically demanding and tasks that aren’t. If you’re holding a phone for long periods, you can set aside times when you switch to speakerphone.
Physical Therapy When Necessary
For pain relief and improved joint function, you’ll want to see a chiropractor. Many spinal injuries will require chiropractic care and perhaps the taking of medications. Severe injuries will necessitate surgery.
Outside of work, make sure you eat healthy, getting plenty of vitamin D and calcium, and stay fit. Include aerobic exercises into your schedule as well as exercises that strengthen the back and abdomen.
To contact Dr. Riley and his team of experts at Tulsa Spine and Rehab, call (918) 743-3737 or send them an email.