Back pain is one of the most common medical issues in the U.S. General back pain can come on slowly or over a duration of time. A person can feel anything from dull pain to severe sharp pains in their neck all the way down to their lower back. Back pain can also be caused from injuries, arthritis or degenerative issues, however, people often experience general back pain due to habits in daily life and in the office.
What Causes Back Pain At Work
Experiencing back pain at work can make it hard to be productive since it takes your focus away from work when you’re dealing with uncomfortable pain. Many occupations such as factory work, nursing, construction or desk jobs can place a strain on the back causing problems so it’s important to be aware of work habits that contribute to back pain at work.
One of the more common reasons people experience back pain at work is due to posture. Inactivity of the core muscles at a desk job, for instance, can attribute to the lower back. This is why people in these positions invest in desk chairs that supply adequate back support. When the abdominal muscles are left to relax over a long period of time the lower back muscles start to compensate due to lack of support which places strain on the back muscles leading to back problems.
Another common cause of back pain at work is due to lifting heavy objects too fast or without adequate support. Exerting too much force on your back will quickly lead to back pain. Most people don’t think about their form when preparing to lift a heavy object; they simply go into it with the idea of picking it up and moving it to where it needs to be. In the process, they compromise their back because their core is not engaged and able to provide support to the back. They also rely on their back to do the heavy lifting versus relying on other major muscle groups like the upper thighs (quadriceps) to help them lift the object. Lifting heavy objects with all your back strength can easily lead to a back injury.
Lastly, repetitive movements like twisting or rotation of the spine can also cause back pain. These twisting movements can happen so often that one may not place much thought into what they are doing and turn too quickly. This results in the muscles around the spine tensing up or ending up with a pulled muscle.
Lifestyle Factors That Can Attribute To Back Pain
Habits in the office will certainly help with preventing and dealing with back pain but how you adjust your lifestyle is what will really make all the difference. Exercise is something that everyone struggles to do so we understand the challenge it presents but there are so many ways one can make exercise a part of their lifestyle to help build strong bones and muscles to support the body. Walking, swimming, stretching, yoga and even comfortable floor exercises done at home are just some of the ways you can incorporate exercise into your daily routine. By doing so you not only strengthen your body but you are helping it to keep off weight that would turn place more stress on your back. Eating a healthy diet of raw fruits, vegetables and proteins will also benefit you in the pursuit of keeping off unnecessary weight.
Another factor that some may not think about when it comes to back pain is smoking. Smoking reduces blood flow to your lower spine which can lead to spinal disk degeneration as well as prevent back injuries from healing quickly. Coughing from prolonged and excessive smoking is also attributed to back pain.
Tips For Office Workers To Minimize Back Pain
As discussed earlier, posture plays a great role in preventing or causing back pain. If you have a job that requires you to be on your feet most of the time then it’s important that you keep your weight balanced evenly between both of your feet. If you are sitting most of the time you will want a chair that supports your lower back and causes you to sit upright rather than slouched while keeping your feet on the ground and your thighs parallel to the floor. Take a few moments each day to think about rolling your shoulders back while lifting up your chest and engaging your abdominal muscles. Whether sitting or standing these three things will help you to develop proper posture resulting in less back pain. You will be surprised for just a few moments each day, how much your posture will improve as you take time to focus on how you sit or stand.
When lifting heavy objects be sure to lift with your lower legs and glutes. Most of the time people use their backs to lift but the strength that comes into play when lifting heavy objects should come from your lower body so you can protect your back. As you prepare to lift an object get close enough to get a good handle on it while bending your knees and engaging your core muscles. Using the strength of your legs to support the rest of your body will allow you to stand up without compromising your back. You can maintain the natural curve of your back while holding onto the object but be careful not to twist while you are lifting. If an object is too heavy for you to safely lift it then ask for help or use a dolly to transport the object.
Reducing repetitive tasks can also help to minimize back pain. For instance, if your job requires you to be on the phone, using a headset or the speaker on your phone helps to free up your body so you can sit comfortably and without holding something while you move around. If you are in front of a computer most of the day try taking breaks to stand up and stretch to loosen up tight muscles. Doing this will also help increase blood flow to your brain. Avoid twisting and turning as well as overreaching. Paying attention to your body is key to preventing back pain or unnecessary injury.
Creating habits that will support your back takes time and focus but it can be achieved. Once you have established these habits you will feel better and be able to enjoy your job again. If you continue to suffer from back pain look into being seen by a medical professional who can determine treatment methods that will help you. At Pain Relief Partners, in Vancouver Washington, there are many treatment options available to deal specifically with back pain.