Injuries to the muscles in your back or spine can cause debilitating back pain. This is not just a problem for people with physically demanding jobs but also can affect those who work in an office setting. Office workers, who spend numerous hours hunched over in front of a keyboard are at high risk for back injuries. Fortunately, there are many preventative measures that can protect your spine and back health.
Proper Lifting Technique
Office workers are often required to lift relatively heavy objects. For example, someone might need to lift or move a file box full of paperwork. A couple pieces of paper don’t weigh much, but a box full can weigh quite a bit. Those who work physically demanding jobs such as construction workers are called on to lift heavy objects all of the time.
Using a proper lifting technique protects the back by keeping it in its natural curved position. To properly lift an object you should start in a crouched position or by kneeling down on one knee. Grab the object and keep it in tight, close to your body. It is important that you keep our back straight and use the strength of your legs to stand up and lift the object. If possible use a back brace when lifting to prevent injury.
Many back injuries are a result of poor muscle condition. If the core muscles are lacking strength there is less support for the spine. This is one reason why there are so many office workers with poor posture, which many times leads to back pain. While there is no definitive link between poor spine health and core stabilization it seems to limit injuries when used as part of a spine and back injury prevention programs.
Maintaining core muscle strength does not require being at a gym during every free hour. A program consisting of cardio and basic strength training can keep your muscles strong and healthy which will offer sufficient spinal support. Making time for 30-40 minutes of cardio a couple times a week is crucial. There are many basic exercises such as walking, jogging, or yoga which dramatically benefit the health of your spine. If you can’t find time to get to the gym; stick with bodyweight exercises such as pushups, crunches, and planks, all of which can be done without equipment.
At-Work Pain and Injury Prevention
Along with proper lifting technique, there are many other ways to prevent injury. Practice having good posture. Pretend there is a line running down from the ears to the shoulders. This imaginary line should be kept as straight as possible. Using a lumbar pillow or a chair with proper lumbar support will also relieve stress on the spine. Moving around and taking walks from time to time will also give muscles in the back, shoulders, and neck a chance to relax and move.
There are a number of basic stretches that can help prevent back strains and sprains by keeping the muscles relaxed and loose. Some of these include chest stretches, the spinal twist, and upper back stretches. When dealing with your back it is always better to err on the side of caution. If you are questioning the weight of an object ask for assistance moving it. This will reduce the load on both peoples backs. Having to apologize because the object was lighter than expected is easier to deal with than a back injury.
Preventing back injury at your place of work is fairly straightforward. Using proper lifting techniques, practicing good posture and getting some basic cardio it will help significantly. Also employing stretches for the neck, shoulders, and back will ensure your muscles are relaxed. These simple preventative measures go a long way toward preserving your spine and back health.