As much as 80 percent of the American workplace suffers from lower back pain in their lives. Most of it is a direct result of the type of work involved. Back pain at work is a problem for everyone, not just those who are in pain.
It is assumed that complaining about pain while on the job is a sign of weakness or lack of dedication. Don't listen to that, because if your pain escalates to the point where you can no longer physically perform your duties, everyone loses.
To understand more about how to prevent back injuries and reduce back pain, keep reading. There are plenty of ways to work good and feel good at work.
Understanding Forms of Back Pain
Not all back pain is the same. It's important to understand which type of pain you're experiencing to help resolve it. Some pain is due to overexertion from living, pushing, pulling, and moving heavy weight.
Other pain can be due to moving objects that aren't even heavy, but the repetition causes inflammation. These types of back injuries are the most common and overlooked.
Finally, a large number of people who work inside will experience back pain due to sedentary jobs. Sitting or standing for long periods of time can put a lot of stress on the back. This is where a chair can make or break your back pain.
Nine Ways to Treat Back Pain
Here are nine different ways to approach and correct the causes of back pain in the workplace.
1. Perfect Your Posture
This goes for both stationary jobs and physical jobs. How you distribute your weight will determine how much your back can take. Slouching is such a huge contributor to lower back issues. It is usually a response to weak core muscles.
Even with a weak core, you should still support your posture with having proper chair backing, height, and positioning of your arms. Don't sit on your wallet, phone, or money clip, no matter how cushioned your chair is. That slight imbalance puts uneven pressure on the spine.
2. Improve Lifting Technique
If you're constantly lifting and moving heavy objects, work on your technique. Always lift with your legs and core, with your back straight. Reduce the amount of stress on your back by holding the weight against your chest.
Try to reduce the amount of stretching and twisting when maneuvering with a heavy object. Walk around like Frankenstein if it helps your back.
Also, don't try to save time by trying to do everything by yourself. Work smarter than that.
3. Streamline Your Work
Repetitive stress injuries can sneak up on you if you don't try to find a way to break up the monotony. You can try switching assignments, alternate with heavy lifting and lighter transport tasks. Swap roles with a work partner to evenly distribute workloads.
Think about the order of your job's duties and find the most efficient way to do them. Every little bit counts when you're working long hours.
4. Speak Up and Ask Questions
As we alluded to earlier, the hardest problem with back pain at work can be addressing it. This includes identifying your risk factors and recognizing the amount of pain you're in. You need to be able to communicate this with your superiors to let them know it's affecting your productivity.
Employers don't want their best employees burning themselves out. They should be willing to invest in your success, whether that means more breaks or providing proper office supplies and furniture.
5. Know Your Rights
If you are trying to obtain help with your work-related injuries, you should look up the Americans with Disabilities Act. Under the ADA, you have rights to job modifications, rescheduling, and specialized equipment to help do your job.
This is considered reasonable accommodation and you can get cleared for these changes by your doctor.
6. Get Ergonomic Equipment
If you feel as though your job's furniture and equipment is inadequate, you should request some ergonomic alternatives. For those who sit most of the day in a chair, you should be focusing on proper lower back support. Change your standard desk into a height-adjustable desk.
Alternating between sitting and standing is a great way to relieve the pressure placed on the spine.
7. Share Experiences
If you're going through back problems at work, chances are your coworkers are going through the same things. If they don't share the same level of discomfort, ask them what they do differently. Making them aware of your back pain isn't going to keep them from doing their job effectively.
It's actually less safe to be in a situation where you're not able to perform with confidence and they're shouldering the workload.
8. Medication and Diet
Sometimes back pain can be attributed to poor diet and exercise. It's a vicious cycle of going home hurt and tired, then never fully healing. Dietary supplements and medications can help promote healing and reduce inflammation.
Ask your doctor about your issues with pain and find out how serious it really is. They may end up suggesting filing for workman's comp if it is not worth continuing.
9. Measure Success
Don't measure success on an individual level, even if you're the only one working the position. Be a team player in the sense that you hold yourself accountable as well as others. Let people know if they're not doing their jobs and you're picking up the slack.
If you can't get any cooperation at work, it may be time to consider leaving. No job is worth a lifetime of pain.
Get Rid of Back Pain at Work
Hopefully, these tips will have inspired you to learn more about back pain at work. We all have our good days and bad days with pain working, but when it becomes chronic, it's time to get a different perspective.
If you think your work environment could use an upgrade, consider a new way to Sit Back and Relax. You can try out our office chairs and experience the difference for yourself. Ask us about our free, one-week trial service. We send you the chair and you tell us if it works.
Stop living with pain and start changing the way you work.