Injuries to your spine or the muscles in your back can lead to debilitating back pain. More importantly, it’s not just a problem for people physically demanding jobs. Office workers, who often spend hours and hours hunched over a computer keyboard, are at risk for back injuries. Fortunately, there are several preventative measures that can protect your back and spine health.
Proper Lifting Technique
Despite thought to the contrary, office workers must often lift comparatively heavy objects. For example, someone might need to lift a file box full of paperwork. A few sheets of paper don’t weigh much. A box full of paper can weigh quite a bit. Those performing physically demanding jobs in construction are, of course, called on to lift heavy objects all the time.
Using a proper lifting technique protects the back by maintaining the curvature of the lower back. Start in a crouching position or kneeling on one knee. Grasp the object and keep it close to the body. Keep your back straight use the superior strength in your legs to rise to a standing position. Whenever possible, take advantage of available back braces when lifting.
Many back injuries arise out of poor muscle condition. If the back and possibly the core muscles lack strength, they struggle to support the spine. It’s one of the reasons so many office workers have poor posture, which also contributes to back pain. While core stabilization lacks a definitive link with spine health, it does seem to limit back injuries when used as part of injury prevention programs.
The good news is that maintaining muscle strength doesn’t require living at a gym during every free hour. A regimen of cardio and basic strength training can keep muscle fitness at a place that offers sufficient spinal support. That means getting in 30-40 minutes of cardio 3-4 times a week. A few simple cardio exercises include walking, jogging and beginner’s yoga. Treadmills, stationary bikes, and ellipticals also offer solid cardio. Stick with bodyweight strength training like pushups, crunches, and planks that can be done without equipment.
At-Work Pain and Injury Prevention
Aside from good lifting technique, injury prevention can take several forms. Work on good posture. Imagine a line running down from the ears to the shoulders and keep that line straight. Ask for a chair with good lumbar support or get a lumbar support pillow for the office. Get up from that desk and walk around from time to time. This gives the muscles in the back, shoulders, and neck a chance to relax and move.
Master some basic stretches, such as chest stretches, the spinal twist, and upper back stretches. These stretches keep the muscles from tightening up too much. That helps prevent back strains and sprains. When in doubt about how heavy something is, ask for assistance in moving it. It reduces the load on both people’s backs. It’s always better to employ too much caution than not enough caution when lifting things. Apologizing because the object was lighter than it looked is much less painful than a back injury.
Preventing workplace back injuries and the pain they cause is fairly straightforward. Use good lifting techniques. Get some basic cardio and bodyweight strength training. Practice good posture and employ stretches for the back, shoulders, and neck. Ask for help when moving heavy objects. These preventative measures go a long way toward preserving your back and spinal health.
Are you experiencing back pain from an injury at work? Contact Spine Institute Northwest for minimally-invasive alternatives to solve your pain and get back your life.