Back pain is a major health concern for workers. Backs are complex structures comprising the interlinking vertebrae bones of the spine, cartilage or discs, muscles, tendons and nerves, and backs play a central role in supporting, moving and protecting our bodies. Any problems with our backs can have a debilitating impact on us physically and mentally.
A number of factors can contribute to back pain at work. For example:
Force: Exerting too much force on your back — such as by lifting or moving heavy objects — can cause injury.
Repetition :Repeating certain movements, especially those that involve twisting or rotating your spine, can injure your back.
Inactivity: An inactive job or a desk job can contribute to back pain, especially if you have poor posture or sit all day in a chair with inadequate back support.
Of course, factors such as ageing, obesity and poor physical condition also can contribute to back pain. While you can’t control your age, you can focus on maintaining a healthy weight, which minimises stress on your back.
You can take steps to avoid and prevent back pain and injuries at work. For example:
Pay attention to posture: When standing, balance your weight evenly on your feet. Don’t slouch. To promote good posture when sitting, choose a chair that supports your spinal curves. Adjust the height of your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor or on a footrest and your thighs are parallel to the floor. Remove your wallet or cellphone from your back pocket when sitting to prevent putting extra pressure on your buttocks or lower back.
Lift properly: When lifting and carrying a heavy object, lift with your legs and tighten your core muscles. Hold the object close to your body. Maintain the natural curve of your back. Don’t twist when lifting. If an object is too heavy to lift safely, ask someone to help you.
Modify repetitive tasks: Use lifting devices, when available, to help you lift loads. Try to alternate physically demanding tasks with less demanding ones. If you work at a computer, make sure that your monitor, keyboard, mouse and chair are positioned properly. If you frequently talk on the phone and type or write at the same time, place your phone on speaker or use a headset. Avoid unnecessary bending, twisting and reaching. Limit the time you spend carrying heavy briefcases, purses and bags. Consider using a rolling suitcase.
Listen to your body: If you must sit for a prolonged period, change your position often. Periodically walk around and gently stretch your muscles to relieve tension.
Sleeping style : There is no evidence that one brand or type of mattress is better than another; however, it is important to choose one with a good support system. How firm a mattress should be is a matter of personal preference and depends upon your own comfort level. If you wake up in the morning with back pain, it could be a sign that your mattress is not properly supporting your lower back and spine.