Back pains can really make it hard for you to concentrate on your job. Whether you’re an office worker who sits most of the day or a security guard who stands too long, both can significantly stress your back and cause back pain.
What Causes Back Pain At Work
There are many causes of back pains, but what typically trigger it after long hours of work are the following:
Lack of movement. Your job may require you to sit/stand all day that you move, sit/stand, or walk less. This can contribute to back pain, especially if you don’t have adequate back support to allow you to assume a good posture. Lack of movement also reduces blood flow to your muscles and can make your muscles stiff and tense.
Moving with improper back mechanics. Lifting or moving heavy objects with your back in an awkward posture, when you're moving too fast, or when moving with improper sequencing or a combination of movements can injure your back muscles. Poor body mechanics are often the cause of back problems. When we don't move objects correctly and safely, our spine receives abnormal stresses that can lead to back pain.
Repetitive movements. Overuse injuries such as repetitive strain injury (RSI), especially those that involve twisting, can hurt your back. Repetitive movements can cause a gradual buildup of damage to muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the back and result in back pain over time.
Preventing Back Pain At Work
You can take steps to prevent back pain at work. The key is good posture and proper mechanics. Whether you sit or stand all day, it’s important that you maintain proper spinal alignment. This way, your back muscles are at their optimal position so they can work more efficiently with very little energy required to protect your back.
If you’re one of the many people who spend a lot of time standing at work, you may want to check the following guidelines to minimize your risk of hurting your back.
- Pay attention to your standing posture. Stand with your head up, shoulders up and back, chest out, and your hips tucked in. Make sure to balance your weight evenly on your feet, with your feet wide apart.
- Move and change position as often as you can to relieve stress on your spine, encourage blood circulation, and decrease muscle fatigue. Light stretching during rest breaks can help ease out muscle tension.
- Stand on a firm and level surface. You may find it helpful to place one foot on a stool, box, or footrest, and switching it with the other foot after a few minutes.
- If standing for long periods, you may lean on a wall or solid support to reduce muscle fatigue.
- Adjust your work desk height to a comfortable level.
Sitting for Desk Works
Slouching while working at your desk puts extra stress on your low back and can cause problems when kept for too long periods.
- Observe proper sitting posture. Lift your head with a tucked chin, your shoulders up and back, and your chest up. Keep your buttocks at the back of the seat, your feet flat on the floor, and your hips and knees bent at right angles.
- Make use of your chair armrests. Ensure that they are positioned at a height that can properly support the weight of your arms.
- If you’re using footrests or stool, make sure that your knees are bent comfortably and are level with your hips.
- Sit with low back support such as a rolled-up towel or cushion at the small of your back. If you’re using an ergonomic chair, make sure that the lumbar support is adjusted appropriately.
- Consider investing in an ergonomic chair. This keeps your back at ease and maintains proper alignment of your spine.
- Using a standup desk and sit-stand chair allows you to alternate between sitting and standing.
- Take rest breaks at least every 30 to 50 minutes to check your posture, as well as for walks and stretches. This will help break up the built tension and prevent muscle fatigue and stiffness.
Notes on Lifting:
Improper lifting mechanics, such as lifting with your back bent or lifting while twisting can cause lower back problems and may lead to chronic back pain when repeatedly done or when left untreated for a prolonged period of time.
- Keep your feet shoulder-width apart to ensure a wide base of support.
- Bend at the hips and knees to a full squat or lunge position, not at your lower back.
- Keep a good posture, by looking straight ahead and keeping your back straight, chest out, and your shoulders back.
- Hold the object close to your body while straightening your spine.
- Slowly lift the object by extending your hips and knees and not your back.
- Pivot at your feet and hips, rather than twisting your lower back.
- Don’t lift by bending forward. Always bend your hips and knees as you squat down, keep the load close to your body, and straighten your legs to lift.
- Don’t lift a heavy load above your shoulders.
- Don’t twist your body as you lift or lift from a twisted or sideways position.
- Don’t lift when you’re in a forward stooped or awkward position.
It’s important to keep a proper spinal alignment in all your daily activities. This practice always ensures a strong core while also training your abdominals and back muscles for endurance. It’s been emphasized repeatedly, keep a good posture as it's critical. Sit, stand, and walk with your back aligned. If you're experiencing back aches after work, you can achieve relief from Recovapro's pain management tools, such as the Recovapro massage guns and the RecovaBall, or you can try the new Smart Cupping Therapy.