Back pain is one of the most common work-related injuries and can make it hard for people to concentrate properly on their work. Understanding back pain and the principles of ergonomics can help prevent work related back pain and injury and help increase productivity and maintain a healthy back.
Common causes of back pain include:
- Force. Exerting too much force on your back by lifting or moving heavy objects.
- Repetition. Repeating certain movements can lead to muscle fatigue or injury, particularly if you’re stretching to the limit of your range of motion or using awkward body positioning.
- Posture. Slouching exaggerates your back’s natural curves, which can lead to muscle fatigue and injury.
- Stress. Pressure at work can increase your stress level and lead to muscle tension and tightness, which can contribute to or worsen back pain.
Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to prevent back pain at work.
- Include physical activity in your daily routine. Read our tips on how to squeeze in exercise at work.
- Work on your posture. Whether you are standing or sitting, make sure you are paying attention to your posture.
- Lift properly. We all know this one, but don’t always practice it in real life. Lift with your knees, not your back. And ask for help if the object is too heavy to lift alone.
- Modify repetitive tasks. For example, get a headset if you spend a lot of time on the phone. If you’re sitting most the day make sure your work station is properly adjusted. Invest in a rolling suitcase if you carry heavy purses/briefcases.
- Manage stress. Excessive stress can make you tense and more prone to injury. Find ways of managing your stress that work – i.e. taking a walk, breathing exercises, or talking to a friend.