Tag Archives: posture


Modern society is plagued by a new culture that is ruining lives and is forcing people into healthcare. It is not something we can easily get away from. As early as attending school, we are to sit for prolonged periods of the day, and more so for a majority of people when we leave education and move into full-time employment. 

Our sitting culture is growing rapidly. We used to walk to school or work, but long commutes hinder this form of travel and we resort to sitting in a car or on public transport to take us to our destination, for us to then sit down some more until we have to go home. 

70% of people in the UK surfer from back pain at some point or another in our lives which equates to £12.3 billion a year, a figure that is increasingly on the rise. 

A recent survey conducted by Pfizer (World’s largest research-based pharmaceutical company) revealed that 50% of people between the ages of 18-34 complained of back pain and of that 50%, 25% said that it affected their ability to work.

“This is hugely in excess of what you would expect in this age bracket” says Sean McDougall, from Backcare, the charity for healthier backs. 

Another survey produced by CBI entitled “Absence and workplace health survey 2013” found that minor illnesses are the most common cause of short-term absence, with back problems a major feature in this category. 

“with over a third of employers (37%) reporting acute back pain as a leading cause of absence among manual workers and more than a quarter (28%) among non-manual employees” (CBI, 2013). 

But with all this in mind, trying to avoid sitting down can be a challenge to many of us. However, not everything is all doom and gloom. There are many techniques that can be used to help us relieve the stress on the base of our spine which anyone can incorporate into their everyday lives. 

Follow our five tips and see if you too can feel the difference 

1.       Invest in an Ergonomic Chair 

Having an ergonomic chair that helps promote good posture can be extremely beneficial, especially to office workers whose majority of the day is spent sitting down. An ergonomic office chair can provide superior lumbar support to its user compared with any other chair that hasn’t been built with ergonomics in mind. There is no style of chair that has been named ‘best’ as everyone is different. This is why a good ergonomic chair comes with an array of features to help support individuals in a way that they feel best. This includes adjustable seat height, lumbar support, seat width, chair tilt and armrests. 

2.       Use The 30/30 Rule 

There are many variations on this rule which in turn change the name of the rule, but we like to go with the 30/30 rule. This means you should get up for 30 seconds every 30 minutes to help give your body a chance to recover. Our body isn’t designed to sit still for long periods of time, even when sitting in a correct position. Taking regular breaks for even as little as 30 seconds can help relieve the pressure on your spine, and ultimately work towards preventing a back-pain free life. 

3.       Correctly Setup Your Workstation 

Before sitting down in your lovely new ergonomic chair, setting up your workstation properly is vitally important. Your workstation is where many of you will be during the office hours, and it is yours to adjust depending on your needs.

Be sure to sit closely to your keyboard, making sure that the keys are centred with your body. You do not want to be so far away from your keyboard that you have to stretch to hit the keys. If you do like to use your chair to slightly recline, take full advantage of any adjustments that can be made to your keyboard so you can put a slight tilt on it.

Your monitor or reference documents positions are also important items for you to consider also.  Position the top of your monitor directly in front of you with the top of the monitor 2-3” above your seated eye level. 

4.       Plant Your Feet 

Planting your feet firmly on the ground so that you allow your hips and knees to be at a 90-degree angle is very important while your sit. By not doing this you expose yourself to a tingling sensation, numbness and even pain in either your thigh, or lower leg due to the excessive pressure on the back of the thigh which compresses the sciatic nerve.

If you are having trouble planting your feet on the floor in a comfortable position, consider using a footrest to help you achieve that 90-degree angle. 

5.       Stretch 

Stretching is not only important to help release some of that muscle tension, but it also feels great! You can stretch while seated, or incorporate it into your 30/30 breaks. Remember to stretch your shoulders, neck, arms, legs and wrists. By doing this regularly throughout the day you will feel a lot better and a lot less tired. 


Many of us may not have even considered how we sit as we feel ok at the time. But health complications from sitting in a poor position can creep up on us when we least expect it. By adopting the 5 tips above into your working life, you too can feel the benefits of consciously sitting correctly.


Author bio: This guest post is brought to you by ChairOffice.co.uk, the UK’s leading office chair supplier.  Our thanks to Matt Pierce. pb


Is your job a stand-only one?   Any prolonged position can hurt your body, and standing is no exception.  The best position is standing in a variety of ways, where you equally distribute loads on different parts of the body but causes no physical strain.  There is no single, ideal body position for several hours of remaining upright while working.

 Workers often sit or stand for long periods of time, for example:   salesperson, machine operator, assembly-line worker, bank teller, store clerk, nurse, cooks, and waitresses.  They suffer many discomforts, such as muscular fatigue, low back pain, sore feet, or stiffness in the shoulders and neck. 

Excessive standing also causes the joints in the spine, hips, knees and feet to become temporarily locked.  This immobility can later lead to rheumatic diseases due to degenerative damage to the tendons and ligaments.  Those whose jobs require standing most of the time, should take frequent breaks and do some walking around the workplace to exercise their joints from being in the same position.  Stretching before and after work could help. If you spend most of your time at work standing, here are some tips you can do to improve your posture and reduce the ill effects: 

Proper position

If you work in a standing position, always face what you’re working on, keeping your body close to the work.  Adjust the workspace so that you have enough space to change positions. Use a foot rail or portable footrest to shift your body weight from both legs to one or the other leg. Use a seat whenever possible while working, or at least during rest breaks. Avoid over-reaching behind or above the shoulder line, or beyond the point of what is comfortable. Instead of reaching, shift your feet to face the object.  If you must stand to work, take frequent rest breaks.  Stretching through the day will relax your muscles. Bank tellers or convenience store clerks could have a stool located behind them, in order to sit while not attending to a customer.

Proper standing surface

The floor you stand on also greatly affects your level of comfort. Wooden, cork or rubber-covered floors are better than concrete or metal, but if you must stand on hard floors, stand on mats. Floor mats should have slanted edges to help prevent tripping. They must be dense enough to cushion the feet, but not too thick. Too much cushioning, from thick foam-rubber mats, for example, can cause fatigue and increase the hazard of tripping.

Workstation set up

Any stand-up workstation should be adjusted according to your height, using elbow height as the guide. For example, precision work, such as writing or electronic assembly, requires a work surface that’s 5 cm above elbow height; your elbows should be supported. Light work, such as assembly-line or mechanical jobs, require a work surface that is 5 to 10 cm below elbow height. Heavy work, demanding downward forces, requires a surface that is 20 to 40 cm below elbow height.

Wear Comfortable footwear

If your feet hurt, your legs, back and hips will also hurt.  The comfort of your feet depends largely on your footwear. Choose footwear that accommodates the hazards in your workplace. Your shoes should be as wide as your feet, leaving room to move your toes. They should have arch supports to prevent flattening of the feet, and a heel with a firm grip to prevent slipping.  Lace-up shoes are best, because they allow you to tighten the instep of your footwear, keeping your foot from slipping inside the shoe or boot. The footwear should have heels that are not flat, but are no higher than 5 cm (2 inches). Wear padding under the tongue if you suffer from tenderness over the bones at the top of the foot. And if you work on a metal or cement floor, cushion your foot with a shock-absorbing insole.

Many professional women –  attorneys, legislative employees, and others are required to dress for the job, including dress shoes, some with very high heels. The only advice to give them is to wear a pair of walking shoes while climbing up stairs or walking to their jobs, and don the heels once their day at work actually begins. Years later, they will possibly pay the price for standing all day in 4-5″ heels (to be fashionable).

Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety

Note: Texas America Safety Company recommends using posters to promote ergonomic safety for those workers who have to stand or sit in the same position all day.


When you think of the riskiest jobs in the world, IT is probably not a field that comes to mind at all. However, these individuals work in front of computer screens all day, and this alone can pose a risk. What are some of the health issues associated with this type of job though? Read on – the answers to this question may surprise you.

Stationary Effects
Let’s immediately get into one of the biggest problems that can result from working on a computer all day long. IT is, generally, not a very active job. As a result, problems from carpal tunnel to dangerous blood clots can potentially form at anytime in your life. Remember, blood clots have the potential to kill you, so you need to be very alert to anything that seems out of the ordinary for this kind of work. You must remember to walk around at some point during the day, if not a few times and stretch out your fingers, hands and arms at least twice most days.

Eyes and Head
Not only are you working at the computer all day, you’re also perpetually staring at a screen. Doing so can cause your eyes to be strained. Even if you never needed to wear glasses or contacts in the past, you could find yourself with a prescription rather soon. Looking at the screen for extended periods of time can also give you a headache. Try to drink a lot of water throughout the day to keep yourself hydrated and happy.

Depending upon the specific type of work you do, you may also find that you are developing arthritis earlier than all of your peers. This problem is more common for people who are typing throughout the day. Whether you are typing up gaming programs or new pieces of software for the computers at work, you run the risk of really straining your hands. Just think of how cramped up your fingers get when you have been typing for a long amount of time.

Back and Neck
You should definitely be looking into some ergonomic pieces of furniture for your office to prevent  back and neck pain (or other problems). You may literally be hunched over all day, and this is not good for your back. Once again, being in the same position for a long period of time is not good. If you are unable to secure ergonomic chairs or desks,  then it’s wise to practice something like yoga, which can stretch out and open up your shoulders, chest and torso. This can do wonders for someone who sits all day at a desk, hunched over a screen.

How to Help

Preventing these types of problems, especially the more serious ones, is crucial for your well-being. However, you really need to discuss specific plans with your doctor to ensure you are getting advice from a professional in the field. Of course, getting away from the computer, moving your body and purchasing ergonomic furniture will help with this endeavor. Try to work out at least three times a week, for at least thirty minutes, and take frequent breaks throughout the work day.

Or, you may very well find yourself passionate about the topic of occupational health and want to help others. If so, you may want to peruse http://www.thebestcolleges.org for more information about related healthcare fields where you really can make a difference.

You may have never realized all the health risks associated with being an IT professional before. Just as with any job, there are definitely some negative components, and you need to speak with your doctor before anything serious may develop.

Joseph Rodriguez writes about health, especially in terms of occupational health. His recent work chronicles his career as a healthcare administrator at a community health clinic on the west coast.



Manual handling causes over third of all workplace injuries, and if your job frequently requires you to lift, pull, push, hold or restrain heavy objects or equipment, you may be at risk.

However, heavy manual labor is not the only risk factor; manual handling injuries can also occur as a result of awkward postures or repetitive movements of the arms, legs and back.

With this in mind, it is important to identify any possible risks that may be present in your workplace, and take safety precautions to prevent injuries from occurring.

Here are five things to keep in mind when manual handling:

1. Maintain good posture at all times

Maintaining good posture is important whether you are sitting at your desk, waiting in line or lifting something heavy. Keeping your spine straight will protect your muscles, organs, make breathing easier and increase your energy.

Here are a few tips for maintaining good posture during different activities:


While seated at your desk, make an effort to sit up straight with your shoulders pulled back. Keep your legs at 90-degree angle to your body in order to support your back. When you are seated correctly your neck, back and heels should be in alignment.


When standing or walking, keep your head up with your chin slightly tucked in rather than pointing outwards. Your shoulders should be back, your chest should be forward and your stomach should be pulled in. Also, remember to place your weight on the ball of your feel instead of your heels or toes.


When stooping to lift something from a low shelf or off the ground, bend at the knees rather than at the waist so that your back stays straight. Use your legs to do the lifting and resist the urge to lean forward. Don’t forget to use your Back Support Belt

2. Lift and carry loads correctly

If you have to lift or carry a heavy load, it is important to follow the right protocol. This includes warming up your muscles with a few gentle stretches before engaging in any manual labor and keeping any objects you are carrying close to the body and lifting with your thigh muscles as opposed to your back.

Always assess whether or not a load can be broken down into smaller and lighter components that will be easier to lift. If you can, push rather than pull the load, as this will put less stress on your body.

Before lifting, adopt a stable position and keep your feet apart while placing one leg forwards in order to maintain your balance. Make sure you have a good grip before you start lifting, and avoid twisting your back or leaning to the side while your back is bent.

3. Use mechanical aids whenever possible

When you have a choice between carrying something yourself or using a mechanical aid such as a wheelbarrow, cart or conveyor belt, you should always choose the mechanical aid, even if you feel capable of lifting the object on your own.

This prevents you from putting an unnecessary strain on your back and means that when you do need to lift something on your own you won’t be worn out. Remember; there is a difference between what you can lift and what you can lift safely.

4. Change the nature of the work

Although this may not always be possible, you should look for opportunities to change the nature of the work you are doing from time to time. Alternating between different tasks throughout the day ensures that you are not carrying out the same movements repeatedly, or overworking certain muscle groups.

For example, if you are unloading boxes from a pallet and your colleague is taking inventory or unpacking the boxes, make a point of trading tasks every so often to give your muscles a break and avoid putting stress on your back.

5. Take frequent breaks

Whether you are sitting at your desk for a prolonged amount of time, lifting and carrying objects or carrying out a task that is repetitive in nature, such as packaging or assembling items, it is important that you take frequent breaks in order to stretch and loosen your muscles and recuperate your strength.


Dictionary.com defines ergonomics as “the study of efficiency in working environments.” This one word encompasses just about everything about your workplace, including the size and brightness of your monitor, the space on your desk, and even how you hold your hands when typing an email. An improper ergonomic workspace can leave you feeling unnecessarily tired, grouchy, and sore. Over time, the wrong ergonomic setup can even cause debilitating and painful degenerative problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Here are five common physical problems improper ergonomics can cause, along with ways to combat them!

1)      Bad Posture

Sitting hunched over a keyboard or a steering wheel all day can lead to painful lower back problems such as bulging discs and strained muscles. The human body is designed to be in motion and can only sustain a single position for about twenty minutes without pain. In common seated-job scenarios, people tend to sit toward the front of their seats to focus more intently on the road or the computer. The best way to combat this is simple: sit back so the seat’s lumbar and neck supports can do their job. Place your feet flat on the floor. Finally, shift positions or stand up and move around as often as possible, but no less than five minutes per twenty minutes of sitting time.

2)      Carpal tunnel syndrome

Many professional writers and people who spend a lot of time typing are prone to this extremely painful degenerative disease. Carpal tunnel is so named because when the median nerve, which runs through the carpal tunnel into the palm, thumb, index, and middle fingers becomes inflamed, it can affect the range of motion and strength in the hand, as well as causing numbness, tingling, and pain. To combat this, you can use a special ergonomic brace for your keyboard or lower your desk so your wrists don’t raise upward while you’re typing.

3)      Eye Strain

Eye strain is one of the most common problems an ergonomically incorrect workspace can cause. If left uncorrected long enough, this can result in degenerative eye diseases such as astigmatism and nearsightedness. These can frequently result in the need for corrective lenses or eye surgery. Keeping your computer screen dimmed, especially when you are using it for long periods, and making sure your workspace is well lit can help prevent this problem. It’s also a good idea to take frequent breaks, especially when staring at a computer monitor or plan text for long periods. If possible, arrange your computer screen so it’s 18-24 inches from your face and you’re reading it from a downward angle.

4)      Repetitive Strain Injury

Anything you do repetitively day in and day out can cause RSI. This applies equally to typing and pushing wheelbarrows, as well as using a hammer, turning a wrench…just about anything your job requires on a regular basis can bring on RSI. Keeping a good posture and using appropriate safety equipment (see Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, above) can help reduce or eliminate RSI symptoms.

5)      Twisted Posture

This may seem to tie in with bad posture, and in some ways it does. However, in many offices, space is at a premium, forcing employees to sit in awkward positions. If possible, arrange your desk, monitor, and chair so everything sits in a straight line. Keep your desk phone and other things you use frequently close, so you can reach them without straining. If there’s not a way to reorganize your cubicle, ask your employer if it’s possible to move the wall back enough to give you a proper alignment to prevent posture and RSI problems.

Our thanks to Joe Shervall, of  www.officefurnitureexpress.co.uk, UK office furniture specialists.

Please note: Texas America Safety Company has the perfect Ergonomics Poster for your office. 


The Best Remedy for the Pains of a Desk Job (Guest Post)

Sent to us by Amelia Wood

Poor Posture

It can be difficult for office workers to maintain upright posture throughout the day. Chairs, desk positions, height, weight and preexisting medical conditions can all cause employees to slump into a collapsible position. Although it is incredibly common, sitting in the hunched position can lead to serious health problems.

Improper posture compresses different areas of the spine which can prohibit blood flow to the vertebrae in your spinal column. A lack of blood supply can cause degeneration of the intervertebral disc and can eventually lead to back pain. 

Tension headaches, TMJ and chronic pain in the neck and shoulders are also symptoms of poor posture. Pressure from bad posture can also cause fluid loss in the spine, which can result in structural changes of connective tissue and the distortion commonly referred to as “hunchback.”

Sedentary Work Day

The longer we sit (even with appropriate posture) the greater our chances for cardiovascular disease as well as colon and breast cancers. One recent study, published in the Lancet medical journal, compared a sedentary lifestyle to smoking in terms of preventable disease. The study also identified the behavior as having a negative impact on public health worldwide. Professionals recommend exercise of 15-30 minutes every day, but even those who exercise for 15-30 minutes a day are within the national average of Americans who spend the rest of the day in a sedentary state.

Computer Pains

Forearm, wrist and hand discomfort are common symptoms of performing repetitive tasks such as typing and using a mouse. Eyestrain, though not serious, often occurs after working at a computer for long periods of time. However, eyestrain could indicate an underlying condition that has gone untreated.

The Best Remedy

Take Breaks!

The most effective way to combat the pains of a desk job is to take breaks throughout the day. In some cases, breaks have been shown to increase productivity; and even with less time dedicated to work, taking breaks does not affect productivity negatively.

You might be surprised to discover that there are many different types of breaks. No type of break has been proven universally more effective than another.

Micropauses (15 seconds) – When taken every 10 minutes, micropauses can reduce end-of-shift fatigue by 50%.

Microbreaks (30 seconds to 5 minutes) – Forearm, wrist and hand discomfort can be eliminated by adding 5 minutes breaks into each hour of the work day.

Breaks (5-15 minutes) – It has been suggested that the best length for infrequent rest pauses is 6 minutes every 80 minutes. For frequent breaks, consider taking 10 minute breaks each hour to promote worker comfort and accuracy.

It might take a few days to decide on a break plan, and there are some software programs out there that can help you (or your entire team) keep a schedule. RSIGuard, a PC software program, is one of the best. It suggests breaks based on work intensity and natural rest patterns and during breaks RSIGuard plays videos of suggested stretches. Breaker is a free customizable work break timer that you can also use.  For Macs, Stretch Break is compatible.

Make the Most of your Break

  • Learn to juggle or teach someone else to juggle. (No, seriously, it forces you to strengthen your posture and flex your wrist muscles.)
  • Stretch at your desk. There are a lot of YouTube videos that offer suggestions for stretching at the desk.
  • Meditate or breathe deeply. If you have a minute or two, check iTunes for a Podcast that will help you break away from work
  • Take a walk.
  • Get a drink of water.
  • Chat with a co-worker.

Remember, taking breaks will benefit your body, but they are also necessary to maintain a healthy work mentality.

Amelia Wood is a blogger and freelance writer with a background in medical coding and billing. She loves to offer advice about health and wellness, especially in an office environment. Direct any questions or comments to amelia1612@gmail.com.


Yesterday, we talked about ways to protect our backs through posture, exercise, and proper planning of lifting.  Many industries involve heavy lifting, such as materials handling, delivery of products, and in the healthcare field, lifting of patients.  This type of lifting can cause caregivers to have to be in awkward positions often when a patient suddenly tries to get up unassisted, not realizing they will fall without the caregiver’s help. 

Employees whose jobs require lifting for long periods of time, should have adequate rest periods to allow their body to rest.  They should also drink water often.  Lifting heavy items is one of the leading causes of injury in workplaces.  Overexertion and cumulative trauma were the biggest factors in back injuries, according to the Bureau of Labor.  Employees should use smart lifting practices and work in their “power zone.”  They will be less likely to suffer back sprains, muscle pulls, wrist injuries, elbow injuries, spinal injuries, and other injuries caused by lifting heavy objects.  Factors that contribute to injuries are:

  • Environmental elements.
  • Inadequate handholds.
  • Weight of objects.
  • Awkward Postures.
  • High-frequency and long-duration lifting. 

“Power Zone” height is about mid-thigh to mid-chest.  Maintain neutral and straight spine alignment whenever possible.  Bending at the knees, rather than the waist, usually helps maintain proper spine alignment.  In handling heavy materials, if possible, break down loads in smaller quantities and break down loads off-site.  When possible, ask vendors to break down loads prior to delivery.  Weight should be limited to 50 pounds.  When lifting loads heavier than that, use two or more people to lift the load.  

Preplanning and good housekeeping will optimize employee access to heavy items.  Ladders should be used to elevate employees and move them closer to the work area to avoid overhead lifting.  Workers should try to avoid twisting, bending, and reaching awkwardly. 

Inadequate handholds make lifting harder by moving the load away from the body, lower lift heights, and increase the risk of contact stress and of dropping the load.  Ask suppliers to place their materials in containers with good handholds.  Handles, slots or holes should have enough room to accommodate gloved hands.  The proper personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn to avoid finger injuries and contact stress.  Work Safety Gloves should fit properly and furnish a good grip in order to reduce the risk of dropping the load.  Lifting belts, support belts, and shoes with non-slip soles are other ways of keeping the back and body safe. 

Environmental elements are other potential hazards.  Cold temperatures can cause decreased muscle flexibility, resulting in pulled muscles.  Very hot temperatures can lead to dehydration, fatigue, and increased metabolic load.  Low visibility or poor lighting can increase the risk of trips and falls. 

It is important for those who do physical work to be cautious about how they perform their duties.  Protecting the entire body, by wearing the correct PPE, and following the rules of safe lifting, or safe practices in general,  will allow workers to feel better much longer, and avoid long-term injuries.


First, how many of us know exactly how our backs are built?  According to the National Ag Safety Database, (NASD), your backbone is made up of 24 individual bones called vertebrae that are stacked on top of one another.  Vertebrae are separated by soft discs of cartilage that performs as shock absorbers for your vertebrae.  They help your back to bend, twist, and move around.  Most of the support to your spine is maintained by your stomach muscles, as well as the many muscles and ligaments that run up and down the length of your back. 

If we all could get a picture of what our backs actually look like, it’s doubtful that it would be as well lined up as the description.  The base of my spine is not lined up as it should be, and when I try to use my stomach muscles, it hurts my back.  I also sit at a computer all day, and my posture is not straight, as it should be. Slouching makes the back ligaments, not the muscles, stretch and hurt, thus putting pressure on the vertebrae.  If you work at a desk job, the best way to sit is straight, with your back against the back of the chair, and your feet flat on the floor, and your knees slightly higher than your hips.  When standing, stand tall, with your head up and shoulders back.  (Teach your children to get in the habit of good posture.)

Many persons carry excess weight, such as potbellies, which exert extra force on back and stomach muscles.  Your back is trying to support the weight out in front by swaying backwards, which causes excess strain on the lower back muscles.  Losing weight can reduce strain and pain in your back.  Having strong back and stomach muscles is important in order to ease the work your back goes through daily.  

Many times we sleep on mattresses that are not firm enough for good support.  You could try placing plywood between your box springs and mattress for better back support.  Either sleep on your side with your knees bent, or on your back with a pillow under your knees for support.  When driving, keep your back straight against the seat and close enough to the wheel so your knees are bent and are slightly higher than your hips.  

My work experience causes me to reflect on years of lifting heavy boxes full of files, rather than ask someone to help me.  I surely have paid for it, but not as seriously as others, who lift heavy objects all day long.  In my case, I could have asked for a little help, and it would have eliminated the risk of hurting my back.  We often don’t think about the object that we are going to lift, or how we are going to go about the task.  Plan your lifts in advance – think about the weight of the object you will be moving and how far you are moving it.  Eliminate any hazards that you see could be eliminated ahead of time.  And never fail to ask for help when you need it. 

We all know the standard rule: lift with your legs, not your back.  Slowly squat down by bending your knees, not your back and stomach.  With both hands, firmly grab the load and bring it close to your body.  Once it is close to your body, slowly straighten out your legs until you are standing upright.  Make sure you can see where you are going, as you walk slowly to your destination.  

Once you have reached your target, it is equally important to unload the object properly.  Reverse the lifting procedures just described and you will reduce the strain on your back and stomach muscles.  If necessary to set the load on the ground, squat down by bending your knees and position the load out in front of you.  Remember, if it is too heavy, bulky, or awkward for you to lift alone, find someone to help you with it.  I have found that now, when I fill file boxes, I only fill them half-full, and carry that to the car to be returned to our office; then I carry the other half of the files and place them in the box in my car.  It’s sure easier than trying to carry the whole thing.  Also, you may want to find a cart to transport your load.

Remember, it is easier to prevent a back injury than to repair one.  It is necessary to take care of your back because your back is critically important to your ability to walk, sit, stand, and run.  There are all types of lifting belts, back supports, and other ergonomic products that can support your back.  


Pat Brownlee writes for Blog4Safety, owned by parent company, Texas America Safety Company, http://www.tasco-safety.com/ Brownwood, Texas.


About 80% of  U.S. adults will experience lower back injuries or back pain over their lifetimes.  These injuries can be caused by improper lifting techniques and overuse.  If you use proper lifting techniques, and stretch and strengthen your back muscles, the risk of back injury can possibly  be averted.  When we have back pain, it is hard to think about your work or anything else.   There are many occupations, such as nursing, factory and construction work, or standing all day in a store or bank, that puts significant demands on your back.  I used to sit at a desk 8 hours a day, which can cause or worsen back pain.  My posture didn’t help; I am sure I slumped at my desk, rather than sitting up straight.  If you understand what causes your back pain and what you can do to prevent it, you should feel much better.

Here are some examples of the pressure put on our backs (literally):

Posture: Slouching exaggerates your back’s natural curves, which leads to muscle fatigue and injury.

Stress: Pressure at work and/or home can increase your stress level and lead to muscle tension and tightness, which adds to back pain.

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.

Force: Exerting too much force on your back – such as lifting or moving heavy objects – can cause injury.  If possible, find a “work buddy.”  It is less costly on the company to have two people lifting objects safely than paying for one person’s back injury.  You may be “macho” when you are young and strong, but you will learn with age, that some of that lifting you did while you were stronger, comes back to haunt you later.

Safe lifting poster

If you work in manufacturing or another industry where your day will be comprised of lifting or handling heavy objects, be sure to stretch before beginning your day.  Make this type of exercise a regular part of your work routine.  Taking a few minutes to do a few stretching or strengthening exercises can make all the difference in the rest of your day.  Improper lifting of heavy objects causes many back injuries.  It is best to use techniques that can support your back and prevent injury.  The diagonal lift gives you a wide base of support, with more stability, energy and power.  Bend your knees and squat down; keep your back arched and head up while lifting.  This allows more power to come from the larger muscles of the legs, keeping the weight off your back.  Keep the objects close to your body.  Bad habits such as jerking, rushing, twisting or bending while lifting can cause serious injury.

Slips, trips, and falls are hazards that we all face, even at home, if we aren’t careful to keep clutter out of our paths.  Wear the correct type of shoes to fit your job.  If you are on your feet all day, you need good support, with non-slip soles if possible.  Even women who thought they had to wear high heels in the office all day seem to be changing to lower, more comfortable shoes.  Do pay attention to your posture.  Just by changing positions often, and taking time to walk around and stretch, can make you feel better and help your back.

After reviewing scientific studies on the value of back support belts in preventing lower back injury, OSHA came to the conclusion that they had no conclusion.  Therefore, they have not made wearing back belts mandatory.  The use of back support belts and braces is optional, and many companies choose to supply them to their employees.  If it is a matter of personal preference, and if it makes you feel more secure, try it.  It certainly won’t hurt anything.  Studies show that newer back supports are working.  Employees have fewer back injuries and problems.  These products also help employees retain proper posture and movement, two habits that have been shown to reduce back strain on the job.

Always listen to your body; it is usually a good warning system telling you to slow down.  Take the time to examine your work environment and find ways to help you avoid risks that could be harmful.  Talk to your supervisor if you feel the load is too much; there may be other options that will help not only you but your co-workers.