Back pain is one of the most common injuries found in the work place and it’s not limited to those jobs that require a great deal of physical labor. It’s one of the prevalent injuries found in the office and doing what seems like everyday tasks, such as sitting at a desk for long periods of time or having bad posture. Here are the top five ways to avoid injuring your back and experiencing back pain at work.
Proper Bending and Lifting
This might seem like a very obvious one, but this is one that often slips your mind because you might not be lifting or having to pick up something very heavy in order to injure your back. Something as simple as dropping some papers on the floor can do a number on your back if you’re not using the proper technique to pick up those types of things. Many people have the tendency to bend at the hip, straining the lower back. Instead, it’s important that you bend with your knees and left with your legs and not your back. For heavier items, figure out if there are other ways of lifting and carrying those items through the office (e.g. cart, dolly, etc.).
Be Aware of Your Posture
In and out of the office, be aware of your posture (both sitting and standing). If you are slouching, leaning to the side, or hunched over, you are putting a lot more stress and strain on your back than you need to. With the invention of the smart phones, far more people with neck and back problems staring down and keeping their head down. Pull that head up, keep your shoulder back, breathe in from the core, and try keeping your head up.
Take a Break
If you work a 9 to 5 job, chances are, many of those hours are spent sitting down at a desk and focusing on the computer and the work at hand. Be sure that you take your breaks. Get up, stretch your legs, take a walk to the break room or the restroom, and even find a way to get out of the office for lunch if you can. It’s extremely hard on your body to be stuck in the same position for too long, so help keep your muscles loose and give them a break throughout the day. You can set an alarm to remind you to get up and take a break. You can do shoulder rolling and some stretches to help alleviate some of the muscle tightness that comes with back pain at work.
Say Bye Bye to Phone Cradling
Do you ever tuck the phone between your shoulder and the side of the face to free your hands while on the phone? While it’s convenient, particularly if you need to be hands-free in order to type or write out a note, it can wreak havoc on your neck and the result is potential neck and back pain. If you are in a position where you’ll be on the phone for long periods of time or throughout the day, try to utilize a headset or speakerphone in order to avoid risking injury.
Evaluate Your Work Area
Last, but not least, evaluate your entire work area and see if there are ways that you can improve things that could be causing long-term strain on your back and potential risk of injury. Many employers are willing to work with employees to figure out comfortable, ergonomic conditions that can prevent injury. Anything from standing desks to comfortable desk chairs for proper posture to the necessary keyboard and monitors to allow for better working conditions. Figure out what will help you the most with respect to taking the most strain off of you and your back and work from there.
If you currently are experiencing neck or back pain at work, carpal tunnel syndrome, migraine headaches or other types of pain and are currently located in Orange County and throughout the greater Southern California area, contact Centers of Rehabilitation and Pain Medicine (CRPM) at (714) 909-0136 or online. The single goal of the team of physicians and staff at CRPM is to help ensure that you, the patient, are able to live a full life with little to no pain. Contact CRPM today at (714) 909-0136 to learn more!