To help prevent reinjuring your back at work -- or hurting it in the first place -- follow these tips, learn how to lift the right way, and make changes at work, if needed.
Exercise helps to prevent future back pain.
If you are overweight, ask your health care provider about ways you can lose some of your extra pounds. Carrying around extra weight adds stress to your back no matter what kind of work you do.
Long car rides and getting in and out of the car can be very hard on your back. If you have a long commute to work, consider some of these changes.
Know how much you can safely lift. Think about how much you have lifted in the past and how easy or hard that was. If an object seems too heavy or awkward, get help to move or lift it.
If your work requires you to do lifting that may not be safe for your back, talk with your boss. Try to find out the most weight you should have to lift. You may need to meet with a physical therapist or occupational therapist to learn how to safely lift this amount of weight.
Follow these steps when you bend and lift to help prevent back pain and injury:
Some health care providers recommend the use of a back brace to help support the spine. A brace may help prevent injuries for workers who have to lift heavy objects. However, using a brace too much can weaken the core muscles that support your back, making back pain problems worse.
If your back pain is worse at work, talk with your boss. It may be that your work station is not set up correctly.
If your work involves physical activity, review the needed motions and activities with your physical therapist. Your therapist may be able to suggest helpful changes. Also, ask about exercises or stretches for the muscles you use most during work.
Avoid standing for long periods of time. If you must stand at work, try resting one foot on a stool, then the other foot. Keep switching off during the day.
Take medicines as needed. Talk with your boss or supervisor if you need to take medicines that make you sleepy, such as narcotic pain relievers and muscle relaxant medicines.
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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