Guest Commentary by Tiffany Rowe.
If you’re experiencing back pain right now, know that you’re not the only one. Millions of people suffer from this issue around the country every year and, according to reports, it’s believed around 80 percent of people have to suffer through this type of pain at some point. This can be in the form of a constant, dull ache; a sudden, sharp pain that feels like a knife in the back; or a long-term condition that goes on for more than three months.
If you’re already suffering from back pain, you know it can decrease enjoyment of life, cause stress, be a financial burden if you have to take time off work, and just generally hold you up when it comes to achieving career goals.
While it’s certainly important to find ways to try to lessen the pain you’re experiencing, back pain treatment centers, various natural therapies, and surgery can help with this, it’s also necessary to avoid exacerbating your pain or causing further injuries. Read on for some tips you can follow to stay safer today.
Bend and Lift Carefully
For starters, watch how you bend and lift things, whether you’re at home, the office, or out and about. It’s common for people to put their back out more when they twist awkwardly to move items, bend at a funny angle, or lift bulky and/or heavy things alone. As such, you should educate yourself on proper lifting techniques. In particular, remember to press from your legs so you use their power, rather than your back muscles, to take the weight.
When you’re at work or home, try to get other people to help you move weighty items or those which are an awkward size or shape. Keep in mind that pushing things rather than pulling them if usually easier for the body too. If there’s no one around to help, make use of equipment such as trolleys and wheelbarrows, or divide things into lighter weights that are easy for you to carry solo.
If you have young children, be wary of carrying them for long periods on your back, shoulders or hips; doing so can stress your joints and muscles, and quickly put you out of alignment.
Improve Your Posture and Use Ergonomic Equipment
Next, to help your back cope, work on improving your posture. It pays to get some training to learn correct posture, particularly if you currently sit slumped at a desk or behind the wheel of a vehicle for many hours each week. See a physio, occupational therapist, chiropractor, osteopath, yoga or Pilates instructor, for instance, for advice and specialized techniques.
Furthermore, start by noticing how you sit and stand all day. If you’re like most people, you’re probably not currently making use of the most ergonomic equipment possible. To rectify this, use an ergonomic chair that supports your back, and check to see that the height of not only this chair but also your desk and computer screen and keyboard are at an optimum level.
You don’t want to be slumping forward with your neck sticking out to see a screen; or have to sit in a position that stops your feet from resting comfortably on the ground. Avoid, also, having your backside and back tilted at a funny angle, or having to reach your arms up to type away. It’s also helpful to use a supportive mouse pad; an adjustable desk that allows you to stand to complete work throughout the day; and a thick mat to stand on when you’re on your feet for long periods of time.
Take Regular Work Breaks
Something else that will make a difference to your level of pain is taking regular breaks from work to either rest your body, if you’ve been moving about for a long time or, in the case of most people, to get up to stretch and exercise if you’ve been sitting for too long.
Taking regular breaks means more than just grabbing a quick drink or going to the bathroom, and then getting straight back to work. Instead, take at least five to 10 minutes, or preferably longer, to do things like take a walk, climb stairs, do yoga or other stretches, complete body-weight exercises (e.g. lunges and pushups), or hit the gym.
Keep Work and Home Spaces Safe
Lastly, keep the spaces you work and relax in safer so you don’t end up falling, tripping, or slipping and hurting your back further that way. Ensure walkways are kept free of obstacles such as pets or children’s toys, piles of books or paperwork, and boxes; and always mop up wet or sticky surfaces ASAP. As well, work safely at heights; store heavy items on the ground rather than on top of high shelves so they can’t fall and knock you over; and make sure you have a good mattress to sleep on each night.