As much as we love to complain about work, the truth is that the daily grind is pretty dear to us. Work gives us a sense of self worth, and for many of us, it holds true meaning. So what happens when your workplace is causing you neck or back pain?
The truth is that minor aches and pains can generally be addressed with some simple home care measures, by taking some over-the-counter medications and by improving our activity level and posture. When we have significant structural issues it’s a different story and generally requires intervention from a back pain specialist.
If your work is causing you pain or you fear that you’re at risk for injuring yourself on the job, there are a few steps you can take. These include:
- Get some exercise. The fitter you are and the stronger the muscles in your back and core, the less likely you are to suffer a workplace injury. There’s no need to take on extreme sports. Simple daily walking, swimming or cycling are all good ways to develop and strengthen your back and core muscles. The more you move the healthier your back will be and the less vulnerable it will be to injury.
- If you’re overweight, go on a diet. Every extra pound that you’re carrying puts extra stress on your spine and increases your chances of straining a muscle in your back.
- If you’re a smoker, then quit. In addition to everything that you already know about why smoking is bad for you, recent studies have indicated that when you smoke you interrupt the flow of oxygen to your spine. This can exacerbate injuries that already exist and make your discs more vulnerable to degeneration.
- Pay attention to posture. Maintaining an erect and healthy posture — whether you’re sitting or standing — makes a big difference in the way that your back feels and your risk for injury. If you have to sit for long periods of time you’re more likely to let your shoulders sag, so make a point of getting up and walking around every 20 minutes or so.
- Learn proper lifting techniques. Most workplace back injuries are a result of improper lifting technique. Remember to lift with your legs instead of your back, and keep your knees bent.
- If you’re feeling stressed, try to add some relaxation or mindful techniques like yoga or meditation. It can really help keep the emotional impact of stress from affecting your back.
- If your workplace doesn’t provide you with a healthy ergonomic set up at your desk, talk to your manager to see whether any adjustments can be made.
- Learn back and spine strengthening and stretching exercises, as well as exercises to strengthen your core.
Whether you love your job or hate it, trying to do it while dealing with back pain is going to make every day a misery. If your back or neck pain lasts more than a few days, call our office today to set up an appointment.