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Reducing Back Strain at Work

Only in recent years has back strain in the workplace gotten serious attention with the creation of things like standing desks or advanced backtraces. That’s because business owners are now realizing that reducing back pain at work can increase productivity, employee happiness and well being.

Take for example, a usual day at work where you need to sit down in front of your desk for eight hours. Most of the time there isn’t really an alternative to sitting in some awful desk chair or maybe it’s that you spend the whole day moving heavy items and sitting at a machine, wherever you are, your back is not being taken care of. Back pain is one of the most common issues adults run into and it can often move to your neck, running down your spine and with all that pain going on, it can be impossible to focus on the job at hand.

More than a million workers have reported back pains every year and back pain cause one out of five workplace injuries. Also, back pain accounts for one-fourth of all compensation indemnity claims.

While the work itself is unavoidable, there are certain ways that you can avoid back pain. Without the discomforts, you can concentrate on your work, get home on time and not be stuck icing your neck every night before bed.

So, how do you protect your back at work?

  1. Exercise regularly.

    We’ve all heard it before but seriously, making sure your body is getting regular movement is the best way to maintain good back health. Even daily stretches or yoga so your muscles will be flexible and strong. Take the time to walk around the parking lot at lunch or jog before work for some cardio exercises. If you want to specifically target your lower back, check out some online sources, there are tons of workout forums that can help your create a simple routine to keep your muscles active and loose. Exercise at least three times a week, more if possible. Aside from keeping your body flexible, exercise can also reduce risks of other injuries and diseases.

  2. Follow a healthy diet.

    The food we eat also affect the way we think and how our body becomes. There are certain foods that are good for the back such as bright colored fruits, green tea, nuts, lean proteins and beans. Packing your body with these good nutrients will help avoid pain and inflammation through your whole body. Keep your body hydrated as well. Drink at least eight glasses of water a day and cutting back on alcohol and sugary drinks is a great way to reduce body fat.

  3. Talk to a physical therapist and have a regular check-up.

    If you feel the onset of back pain, it is best to see a physical therapist immediately. A regular checkup can help prevent worst cases of pain in the body and can address early symptoms before they get bad. Your doctor can also advise you on healthy lifestyles to prevent back pain.

  4. Set up an ergonomic workstation.

    The way your desk and chair is positioned significantly affects your body. Many of us are left with the standard seated desk which are designed as “one size fits all” but no two people are the same and this can cause slouching or poor alignment. However, a few ways to improve this are..

    1. Set your armrest so they slightly lift your arms. It must be positioned where you can feel no strain on your upper spine and shoulders so they rest naturally.
    2. Make sure that your elbows are at a 90-degree angle from your chair to your desk. It allows you to rest your hand on your desk without any feeling of discomfort.
    3. When you sit upright, the distance between your calf and the chair should be about the size of your clenched fist. Otherwise, you are sitting on a deep chair and it will strain your lower back.
    4. Make sure that your feet are flat on the floor and about shoulders’ width apart and that your legs are not wedged underneath the chair. While we all cross our legs or sit funny at times, make sure that the majority of your time is spent in the perfect straight position.
  5. Stand up every hour.

    It helps to stand up and walk around after an hour of sitting down on your chair. It will keep your blood circulation regular and help stretch your muscles. Some arm and leg stretching when standing can help a lot as well. Take a coffee break for a few minutes to walk around or just do a lap around the hall. The important thing is to maximize your time standing and walking.

  6. Add support to your back.

    Your lower back needs to arch slightly. Avoid slouching down on the chair or slumping forward. Use a cushion meant for back support to prevent your body from slouching. In addition, sit correctly. Make sure your screen is at eye level when working. Position the things your often use closer to your hands. Make sure your back is always at the upright position.

  7. Practice proper lifting and bending.

    Some jobs may require you to bend and lift. To avoid back pain, start with a stable back position. Make sure it is straight when bending. Avoid lifting objects that are too heavy for you to carry which means don’t be afraid to ask for help from a coworker. Think of it this way, ask for help lifting that box today, avoid asking help getting out of bed tomorrow. Bend with your knees and legs and not with your back. Distribute the weight when lifting.