Health Advocate Blog

Spare your back at work

Experiencing back pain is a leading occupational hazard whether you work long, tough hours mostly on your feet while lifting heavy objects, or while sitting at a desk for hours on end. The following tips can ease some of the discomfort and help you feel more comfortable and remain productive at work.

Talk to your doctor! If you’re experiencing frequent, severe or chronic back pain, it is important to consult a medical professional to understand the cause, possible treatments and exercises that may help.

Keep your spine aligned. Imagine a string attached from the ceiling to the top of your head, pulling you upward.

Watch your posture. In addition to the tip above, make sure your shoulders are back to avoid slouching.

Lift with your legs to reduce the strain on your back anytime you are moving heavy objects. With your back straight, bend your knees and squat down to lower yourself to the object. Straighten your legs to lift it straight up. Avoid turning or twisting your back. Ask for help if the item is too heavy to safely lift on your own.

Adjust your chair to keep your feet flat on the floor. Your knees should be level with your hips—with feet slightly forward. Keep your back straight and your shoulders back. If your feet do not reach the floor, use a footrest or pillow to elevate them.

Remember, for prolonged desk work, keep your body in a neutral, relaxed position. To help keep your back straight and tall and your shoulders back, place a lumbar support pillow or rolled-up towel in the curve of your back.

Move around in place or take a quick walk when standing in one position or sitting for long periods. Movement can relax tissues, lubricate joints, prevent stiffness, and reduce fatigue.

Exercise! There are many benefits to regular exercise, including prevention of back pain by keeping your back and core muscles strong. Always talk to your doctor before trying new exercises.

Again, if you are experiencing back pain, especially if it interferes with your ability to function, talk to your doctor.