Saturday, March 27, 2010

Back Injury Prevention in the Workplace and at Home

Over 2 million back injuries occur in the workplace annually costing employers over 30 billion dollars. Many of these injuries are exacerbated by poor lifting techniques, bad posture and carrying too much body weight.

The natural aging process contributes to weakening of the back but there are a number of techniques and guidelines that can help workers avoid injury.

Since a deteriorated back caused by aging and other factors is more susceptible to injury it's crucial that workers do whatever they can to keep the back young and healthy. Sitting or standing for long periods of time, lifting heavy objects improperly and taking breaks with exercise are all vitally important. Moving around and stretching periodically is also vital.

Having good posture throughout the day is critical. Sitting up straight and standing tall distributes the weight of your body evenly and reduces unnecessary stress. Neutral positions are of utmost importance.

Right angles with your arms and legs while sitting at your desk reduces stress as well. Try to keep your forearms at 90 degree angles on your desk by keeping your chair high enough. Your feet should be flat and your thighs also at a 90 degree angle. A foot rest will work if your feet don't hit the floor.

When working with tools or at your desk keep everything you will reach for within 14 to 18 inches so that you do not overstretch your back. When you are standing make sure that your work is not too low so that you are not hunched over.

Standing itself can be hard on the back so try to rest one foot on a stool or platform to keep your lumbar region in the natural "S" position. Whether you are sitting or standing, don't get stuck in one position - move around.

Lifting heavy objects is another way to hurt your back. Make sure you are not having back pain and are feeling well before you even attempt a heavy lift. Also, stretch your muscles and loosen up. There is no proven back device that prevents injury so the best way to lift is with proper form.

Avoid reaching with your arms above your shoulders - this puts heavy stress on your neck and lower back. However the most dangerous things are below the belt. Bend your knees and keep objects as close to your body as possible.

Keep your body in an athletic position that keeps the natural "S" intact and try not to stretch or bend awkwardly. Lifting with your legs rather than your arms is a good thought to have in your head. When putting the load down bend your knees slowly and keep you back straight.

Driving can also be a strain on your back. Make sure you keep a good sitting posture here as well. Make sure your seat is positioned so you don't have to stretch to reach the pedals and your rear view mirror is positioned so you don't have to strain. Both hands should be on the steering wheel and you should avoid slouching or hunching over.

Don't forget about back safety at home. Exercising with low impact aerobic activities like walking, swimming or biking are great for keeping the back healthy. Sleeping on a mattress that is not too soft or too hard can be critical as well. Be careful when lifting your children too. Young children cause e a lot of back strain for parents.

When your back does get injured applying ice packs will help reduce swelling and a hot pad will help relieve stiffness. But, most importantly healing a back requires rest. Don't just sleep or lie on the couch.

Rest involves low impact movements to generate blood flow. Over-the-counter medications will help with pain and swelling but if a back injury persists a doctor or physical therapist should be contacted.

Back problems will hit most of us eventually but we can do a lot to avoid and lessen their impact on our lives. Simple lifting procedures combined with proper posture while sitting or standing will go a long way to better health - both at work and at home.

By : RJ_Sullivan

1 comment:

Rick said...

Thank you for your information about back pain. I specialize in treating chronic pain and help many people with back pain by correcting the functional roots of their pain. Here’s a little 1-minute test to help your readers understand, what could be a fundamental cause of their chronic back pain.
Lie down on your back for 30 seconds with legs extended out, resting on the floor. Now bend your knees so the feet are sitting flat on the floor near your behind for 30 seconds. Which one feels better? If your back pain diminishes with knees bent then your spine has excessive extension stress acting on it. There are simple exercises to correct this. If your spine felt better with legs extended then you have excessive flexion stress acting on your spine. Again this is easily correctable.
Without getting into too much detail, chronic pain results from a cycle of issues. Anatomical problems feed biomechanical issues which then affect movement habits that reinforce the original anatomical and biomechanical problems. Fixing back pain requires attention to all three levels. It's often quite simple to correct though once the root causes are understood. This is outlined in my book. I’ve also posted this 1-minute back pain test on YouTube, if you’re interested.
Rick Olderman