Women's Health

Back-Breaking Work: Is Your Job Damaging Your Back?

Many back injuries are caused at work. Below are a few ways in which you can protect yourself against back injuries while working.

Take the right precautions when lifting heavy stuff

A lot of people injure their spine while trying to lift heavy loads. There are a few things that you can do to prevent such an injury.

First, make sure that you always squat and lift from your knees. Lifting heavy loads by bending over at the waist is a recipe for a spinal injury. Always lift from your knees and keep your back straight.

Test objects before lifting them to make sure that they’re not too heavy. If they are too heavy to lift alone, get someone to help you lift the object. In some industries, you may be better off using equipment such as lifts, pulleys and trolleys for certain items. 

Back injuries while lifting can develop suddenly. If you do sustain an injury, make sure to take time off work to recover and see a doctor to make sure that there is no major damage.

Make sure you’re sitting comfortably

It’s not just physical labor that can cause back injuries. You can develop back pain from sitting in an uncomfortable position for long periods. This could happen while working at a desk or while driving a vehicle.

To avoid back pain, make sure that your spine is resting against the backrest of the chair. Leaning forward over a desk or a steering wheel is a common cause of lower back pain. Make sure that your seat is comfortable and appropriate for work – an ergonomic office chair is often the best option while working at a desk as it supports the whole back. Make sure that you’re not having to twist your body to reach a keyboard or look at a monitor – you should be facing forward while sitting. 

Back pain from sedentary work often develops gradually – you may be able to prevent any permanent damage by looking into treatment early. This could include seeing a chiropractor or a doctor. Neck pain and knee pain may also be caused by sitting uncomfortably. 

Wear the right footwear

On top of developing back pain from sitting for long periods, you can also develop pain from standing up for long periods. If you’re on your feet the whole day, make sure that you’re wearing a comfortable pair of shoes. Avoid wearing shoes with large heels for long periods, as these will put a strain on your spine and hips – flats are always the better option for jobs that require you to be on your feet. In jobs like healthcare, it’s sometimes customary to wear trainers due to the sheer amount of hours spent on one’s feet. 

You can find advice on what footwear to wear at work online. Talk to your employer if you feel such footwear could breach the dress code. 

Know when to take a stand – and when to sit out

Sitting or standing for long periods can increase the risk of a back injury. Try to take a break from sitting or standing whenever possible. This could include getting up from your desk during your lunch break and taking a five minute walk, or sitting down on your lunch break if you’re constantly on your feet. 


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