According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS), approximately 31 million days of work were lost last year because of back, neck and muscle problems. These musculoskeletal conditions are responsible for more prolonged absences than any other condition. Back pain can vary widely from a sharp, stabbing pain to a dull ache but, regardless of the nature of the pain, it can make it very difficult to concentrate on your work. Unfortunately, many occupations, including nursing, construction, factory, and even office work, can place significant stress on your back. By understanding the common causes of back problems at work, you can take steps to prevent it.
Common Causes of Back Pain at Work
Many different factors contribute to back pain at work, including:
- Posture: Slouching at your desk or while standing will exaggerate the natural curve of your back and lead to muscle fatigue and injury.
- Force: Lifting heavy objects incorrectly will exert too much force on your back and could lead to injury.
- Repetition: If your job requires you to carry out repetitive movements, this can lead to muscle fatigue or injury.
It’s also worth noting that lifestyle and medical conditions, such as sleeping in certain positions, poor physical health, obesity, stress and smoking, can all contribute to problems with your back.
How to Avoid Back Pain at Work
- Set Your Desk up Properly: Office-based jobs can be a nightmare for backs due to sitting still for a prolonged period. To counter this, set up your desk and chair properly. Your feel should be flat on the ground, knees bent, with a gentle slope from your hips to your knees. Your eyes should be level with the top of your computer screen and your arms should form a 90–110 degree angle to the keyboard.
- Watch Your Posture: If you stand at work, take care not to slouch and keep your weight balanced on both legs. If you’re seated, use a chair that supports your lower back or use a rolled-up towel or small pillow in the curve at the base of your spine.
- Lift Properly: To lift properly, bend with your knees, never your back, and tighten your core muscles. Keep the object close to your body while carrying it, and ask for help if it’s too heavy.
- Modify Repetitive Tasks: Alternate physically demanding tasks with easier ones. If you work at a desk, take a break to stretch your back every 30–40 minutes, and if you use a phone a lot, use a headset.
For further advice or to check your posture, contact Bristol Chiropractic Clinic today.