You might think that the cricks at the small of your back and your stiff neck will go away in time, but the truth is that these little maladies can become worse if not tended to immediately. Back pain is one of the most common complaints of working adults who are forced to stay in one position for long hours.
Whether you are hunched over a computer your posh office desk or are sweating away lifting heavy objects at a construction site, your work can take its toll on your back at the end of the day. A lot of professions can put tremendous physical and emotional pressure on our bodies, thus causing pain and injury.
Before you wear out your back muscles, here are some useful tips to maintain good back health even on your worst work day:
If you have to lift something, don’t bend your back. Instead, bend your knees to pick up the object, keeping your back straight while doing so. Hold the object close to your body and be careful twist your body while lifting.
Buy a mattress that provides firm support for your back. A soft, lumpy, sagging mattress can do your back no good and may even worsen an existing back ailment. If you do not have the budget for a brand new mattress, it helps to put a ¾ inch thick piece of plywood between your mattress and the box spring to strengthen the firmness of your bed.
Don’t forget to exercise. Your work may or may not require a lot of physical activity, but it is always a good idea to keep your body fit by taking time to exercise. Regular physical activity not only promotes a healthy back, it also keeps your weight in check. Maintaining just the right weight will help ease the strain on your back and help you move more fluidly. You can try core strengthening exercises that target your abdominal and back muscles.
Keep your posture erect. People forget that maintaining a healthy back is all about having good posture whether you are sitting, standing or performing any activity. Slouching means that you exaggerate the natural curves of your back, thus leading to muscle fatigue and injury. Good posture relaxes your muscles and helps your body balance itself more easily.
Adjust your workspace to fit your needs. Your work environment can contribute a lot towards promoting a healthy back. Instead of lifting objects manually, for instance, you can opt for adjustable devices or lifting equipment so you don’t have to bend over repetitively. If you work on a computer, adjust your chair height and desk space to maintain good posture. Change your position accordingly if you’re not comfortable with how you work. Try standing up and walking every once in a while to relax your muscles.
Lighten up. Most people forget that back pain can be caused by severe emotional and psychological tension. Taking a soothing hot bath or having a massage every once in a while can go a long way towards preventing back injury. You can also learn meditation techniques and deep-breathing exercises to loosen your taut back muscles.
Get enough sleep. Sleeping properly and adequately is important when your back muscles are tight and strained. The best position is to sleep on your side with a pillow between your flexed knees, or you can lie on your back with a pillow beneath your knees to ease the pressure on your spine.
Just because you only feel a small tightening of your back muscles does not mean that the injury is not severe. Medical experts say that just as the cause of back pain can be hard to pin down, it is also equally difficult to determine if mild or severe pain is symptomatic of an advanced back injury.
This is why it is always important to maintain proper posture while sitting, standing or performing tasks. More often than not, back pain develops gradually, and not paying attention to the small pain now may mean that you would have to deal with a more serious injury later on.
For example, back pain that persists for over 3 months is already considered chronic back pain for which you need to see a doctor. However, it is not necessary for you to sit out the 3-month period before seeking medical advice—an aching back can also point to some other ailment like kidney infection, which needs immediate attention.
Prevention is better than cure, so the cliché goes, and for back pain this is definitely true. Even if you are only feeling the beginnings of back pain, it is always a relief to try some remedies to ease the throbbing on your back. Back ailments can be a big obstacle to delivering quality performance at work, and certainly you don’t want your boss asking you to repeat your task again to meet the standards.