By Dr. Vivian Ebert, Chiropractic Physician –
Back injuries are considered by OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) as the nation’s #1 workplace safety problem. Back injuries are often a very painful long term, or lifetime, disability.
Most back problems are caused by one or a combination of the following:
Poor Posture. Standing, sitting, or lying down incorrectly will put strain on your spine. Your spine is designed to operate best when it is in a “natural S” shape.
Physical Condition. Your overall physical condition can affect your back. If your back muscles are weak, or if you have put on a few pounds, your back must work harder. Making your back work harder can lead to back pain.
Tension and Stress. Tight and knotted muscles which are caused by tension and stress can cause muscle spasms and back pain.
Aging and Disease. As we age, the muscles in our backs lose their strength and ability to function. One of the disks in your spine can “slip” out of place, and press on the nerves in your back. Osteoarthritis, a form of arthritis, can cause back pain, as well as kidney and prostate problems.
Impact Trauma. Being in an accident, where your spine is injured, will produce serious back pain. Examples of impact trauma include falls, slips, or being involved in an auto accident.
Repetitive Trauma. Working in an awkward position or lifting incorrectly over a period of time can cause what are known as cumulative trauma disorders. As you repeat an unhealthy position or movement, small injuries begin to add up. If you do not change how or what you are doing, more serious injuries can occur.
Improper Lifting. Far too many people are injured on a daily basis because they simply didn’t take the proper precautions before lifting heaving objects.
Every day we find ourselves lifting, pushing and carrying objects of various weights. We are constantly carrying our work on our backs and wearing down our bodies. An injury caused by improper lifting is easily preventable if you follow the tips below:
Before You Lift
Take a few moments to “size up the load.” Test the weight by lifting a corner of the object. If it is too heavy or if the object is an odd shape, STOP! Ask for help. Two or three people lifting a heavy object is much safer than trying to do it yourself. Use a dolly, pushcart, or a mechanical lifting device to help you lift heavy objects. Consider using gloves that will improve your grip and protect your hands. Never lift anything unless you are sure you can do so safely.
Lifting the Load
The key to lifting safely is keeping your back straight or slightly arched. NEVER USE YOUR BACK TO LIFT! Start the lift by putting your feet close to the object.
Get a firm footing before you lift by centering your body over your feet. Squat down like a professional weightlifter, making sure to bend your knees and keep your back straight or slightly arched. It is important to lift with your legs, NOT your back. Grasp the load securely with your hands, and smoothly lift straight up. Never twist your body while lifting, keep your head up, as if looking straight ahead, don’t look down.
Carrying the Load
As you carry the load keep your back straight, walk slowly and surely. Use your feet to change directions, never twist your back. Unless absolutely necessary avoid lifting a load over your head. If you become tired, set the load down, and rest for a few moments.
Proper Posture Tips to Help Prevent Back Pain or Injury:
- Stand up straight. Don’t slouch.
- If you must stand for long periods of time, use a footrest or anti-fatigue mats.
- Select and use appropriate footwear that is comfortable.
- Sit up straight. Don’t slouch while sitting. Proper sitting position is important because sitting is actually harder on your back than standing.
- If you must sit for long periods of time, consider using a pillow or towel to support your lower back.
- Select and use a chair that fits you. Make sure that when you are sitting that your knees are slightly higher than your hips.
- Select a mattress that doesn’t sag; or , replace one that does.
- Sleep on your side with your knees bent or on your back. Avoid sleeping on your stomach with your head resting on a stack of pillows.
To learn more, contact Living Well Chiropractic at 498-BACK (2225), or visit us at www.livingwellfl.com.
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