Work hard to play hard, is that not the standard motto?
While this statement is true, your “work drives” could be distracting you from a larger problem.
Back pain shouldn’t have to keep you away from your time at work, but unfortunately, for the millions of people in our world, this is easier said than done.
In the workforce, 50% of people have a back pain related issue! If that is not alarming enough, all what if I told you that back pain results in the #1 reason for lost days at work? That is an unbelievable amount of people and time lost.
The way our anatomy is made. we are capable of taking a hard beating to our body, but not in the only way you might think of…
All it takes is one movement! ZAP! That’s the harsh reality of what we must face. Consequently, even the most slightest jerk can cause a sequence of painful events. Why did it have to happen to me?…as you ask yourself.
It can happen to anyone at anytime.
The majority of people that suffer from lower back pain get it without a knock at their door, sort of speak. There’s more of a shock as to “what” happened then to “how” and “why” it did. You can’t make sense of what you were doing that led up to the event, but you can when it’s said and done. It’s too late by that point.
Unluckily, your’re more prone to lower back pain at work. Why? Simply outlined through these BIG three indicators:
- Sustained movement. Sitting In your chair for longer than you need
- Constant twisting. From lifting heavy objects.
- Bending. Sitting in your chair, using wrong posture when lifting. The most rudimentary.
I want to shine some light…sort of speak. I want to give you information that will help you identify the cause and of lower back pain at work, and what you can’t do to remove it. You’re going to see how:
- Silence can hurt you
- How your focus is distracting you
- What to do step-by-step
- How to setup your ergonomic workspace
I’ll first start with the actions of staying quiet.
In Silence You Can Hurt
What makes a bad ache and pain worse? Having to suffer in silence.
Many people at work chose to stay quiet and feel like they need to SUCK it up and power on through. I know many people, and from the people I’ve talked to that feel like they were embarrassed if anyone at work found out.
It was as if there co-worker(s) wouldn’t look at them in the same way. Whether we’re speaking about you’re co-workers or boss, it doesn’t end with negativity, but POSITIVITY.
co-workers can help you and I. You’re tough enough to take a couple days off work. On the opposite end, by staying quiet, that will only make your emotions and pain reach a level you don’t want any part of. The results of staying quiet at work will lead to this:
- Loss of productivity. Have you ever felt like you couldn’t work for the extra 5 minutes that you needed to finish your project but you managed to find a way to because in the presence of that time, your mind was telling you no more, and your body was physically tossing and turning to shake off the pain? I know I have. All it took was an extra 5 minutes for me to stay quiet, feel my brain pinching me, and my body aching in agony. These minutes felt like hours, and my work felt like it was rushed.
- No documentation. Many people fail to recognize that there pain doesn’t go away right away. It takes time. The next day that you rolled out of bed in the morning might have started off great. You put some cream, took your favorite NSASD pill or not, or put on a back brace. What pain right? You need not underestimate the tasks of your job. As you continue at work, you follow the same routine that got you into trouble in the first place.
- Not ergonomically thinking. You’ve probably thought you could come back the next day to work, and sit at your work station without too much to think about. What if it was your chair, or desktop that cause your lower back to hurt? Going back to the same work space will only cause more stress on an already weak muscle.
- Loss of team work. On good and bad days you’ll likely separate yourself from tasks and everyone else.
These are gray areas we tend to take for granted, and it’s not until we see the complications, is when its too late. Be Always aware of the environment around you, and the empathy people are willing to give you. In the next section, I’m about to take you into an office setting.
The Computer Of Epic Proportions
Starting at your desk is a good place for one. I call this the “stationary suction device”.
And guess what? This just happens to be where I am at in the workforce.
So let’s jump right on in.
The process of being at your desk usually results in the same, this might look familiar:
- You get to your desk and immediately sit down
- You stare at your screen till your eyeballs practically live in the computer
- You hunch over to get a better look
Point 3 is like the beginning of an AVALANCHE…
Are your the type of person who likes to get there work done now, not later? There’s nothing against finishing your work at a faster rate, but you might be causing yourself more harm than good.
This could have you sitting for more time than you need be, and NOT in a positive effect.
You’re on companies time: I understand this point of view, but is company time more important than your “bodies healing time?”
That pinches a nerve in my head and it so should for you as well. The reason I say this is because with this dog mentality, you will continue to complete task after task, without compensating for your health. It will only drive you down the nutty path…NUTS!
The wrong thing is actually getting caught up in your work so DEEPLY that you lose track of time. In a result, it leads to not only more piles stress but soreness, along with constant aches and pains.
A Tall Telling Statistic:
For every 4 in 5 women (4:5 ratio) that hunch there back will have a lower back problem.
When it comes to orientation which gender is at more harm, men or women?
More women than men are at risk, and that is because there are apparently more women in the workforce in front of a computer, working for a longer extended amount of time.
One evident reason I know that very well is because I support HP on a daily basis, and there’s more headcount in women then there are men.
Now that you have a “hunch” about it, the question still is “how do you proceed?” What can you do to better your approach, and master your techniques so that you don’t have to rely on more conservative treatments, and lost days on the job.
By doing the opposite of what you should do, your posture will do and send you back this feedback:
- Strained your disc
- Overstretched your spinal ligaments
Over time it will lead to your spinal structures constantly changing and being damaged, along with worsening in pain. There wasn’t one question I needed time ask, before and not after. “What can I do?”
At my work, I am required to sit at my desk just like you might, and like you I would from time to time get comfortable in my seat to the point that my back was in god awful pain! In fact, so much that I would have to make an excuse to my co-workers, and end up having lunch at my desk!
It was early in the morning in the day when I felt a difference…
I was at my desk staring at my computer for what was almost an hour and about 5 minutes. I was too wrapped up in running through numbers, creating a report, and not only this but…
I had emails dropping in. It was evident I would be stuck at my desk throughout my break. At the start I was good. I began with the right posture, head up, and my back on the support of the chair. After 10 minutes, I began to slouch, and for the next hour, I was moving around with the itch of the task, and the urge to get up. I didn’t do anything about it!
After the hour and so was done, I finally got up and walked away from my chair. My back felt so sore that I shied away from twisting and bending because I could feel the pain done.
Your Reward Is Not Always What You Reap
The feeling of completing a project or task is great, but is it at the EXPENSE of your back? I think not.
Prolonged sitting will cause more damage than a smoker smoking a packet a day! A DAY!
Contrarily to popular belief, sitting in the right position(when your lumbar is supported) can still have a bad effect. Static posture will lead to discomfort and fatigue.
Don’t be afraid to abandon your chair for a short time…
The Cellular Is That Of A Cellar
Your cell phone can be damaging your health. It is the leading cause for continuous hunching.
*Think about it*…
How many times do you get that all so often telemarketer calling or the constant checking up on your phone from time to time? It’s the ripple effect for your lower back, literally!
Teenagers are way more susceptible to this than adults. A teenager will look at his or her phone at least 10 times in 15 minutes while sitting. Yes, this is at work!
You hunch over to take a look at your most recent social status update, and spend more time doing that then actually being involved in work. You get comfortable after a short amount of time, and before you know it you are twisting in your chair, and hunching your back for a quick message.
Adults are just as prone. The only difference is our movements are less quick, and we don’t hesitate to put the phone down when it is less important. Placing a phone to your ear and in between the shoulders while multitasking will put a killing on your neck.
I’ve sedated you with the wrong things to do, bow let me get you out of this trance and into the solutions…the right things to do.
The Best Solutions
For every negative reaction, there is a positive one. The support to your lower back begins at the top. By that I mean your head.
You’re at your desk, chair in lock, and eyes on the screen. Start with keeping your head up, and your focus should be on aligning your head and neck to be above your shoulders.
With that position, keep it stationed, and avoid moving forward to cause a potential strain. Now that your upper body is in position, let’s take a look at your tools, the Computer, and the attachments.
By the way, I have you covered with the video version of this. Still make sure to read through the rest of the article though.
It is in the little details…
Begin with the mouse. It is your reference point. If you haven’t already done so, move the mouse so it is closer to the keyboard. You do not want to overreach. This can and will cause a twist in your shoulder, or arm when clicking. Make sure that you are sitting within reach of the mouse, and the whole computer unit itself.
This is the best rule of thumb:
- Your torso needs to be an arm’s length away from the monitor
- Monitor is 2 to 3 inches above your eye level
Your head, shoulders, and arms in place, lets keep making our way down.
Move to your feet…
Keep your feet flat on the floor, and make sure that they are shoulder width apart. What does this accomplish? Two things.
This will prevent tension from the knees, and down into your ankles. Take into account the angles here.
- Position your knees at 90 degrees, over your ankles.
The effect: Keeps your spine upright.
When it comes to women, this is something you shouldn’t do:
Avoid from crossing your legs. If you do this it will cause stress to your spine immediately. Your spine will not stay straight, shoulders will not be squared, and you will risk overstretching muscles in the pelvis. This will prevent proper blood flow.
This short video below will show you how to keep your back in the right position.
The one component I like to stress a lot is time. Plan a curriculum
- For every 30 minutes get up
- Put your hands up in the air
- Toes up, and twist to the left and right
This will reduce your pressure on the spinal disks, and bring more circulation to the area. It is a basic foundation to not only preventing a strain, and an ache, but for a constant pain to reoccur.
Get the right chair…
Have a look at the ergonomic chair I use at work:
A chair like this one is perfect for all of my lower back needs.
It’s alright if you are having a difficult time choosing a chair. That just means you are taking the time to make an effort!
Pick a chair that will allow your lower back to rest with a lumbar support. How do you know if its right for you?
If it tilts back and has a slight recline, likely that will do.
I want to show you a side by side comparison, of my new chair vs my old one.
The chair on the right I used for about a year and a half straight. While it worked well, It didn’t give me the most firm glute and lumbar support. I then borrowed the chair to the left, and I ended up holding onto it.
The BEST decision I made by far!
When your desk has been positioned, you should then adjust your chair accordingly, in physical proportion. A traditional office chair will help, but so do ergonomically ones. These chairs are of more active use. They allow you to have more movement. But it is not for everyone.
I like to make sure my desktop, and my surroundings are in perfect balance. Take a look at the my desk when I sit down.
Have a close look at your body in seating position.
There’s even more ergonomic benefits…
How would your lower back pain feel if you had a cushion? A little better? Life changing?
Society sits a lot. We are on our bums working at our desk, sitting in front of the TV, taking a short and long distance commute. 5 minutes turns into 1 hour when you are in traffic.
When we stay less on our feet to to be more on our seat, its one of the biggest reasons for back pain. The discomfort begins to show over time.
Unfortunately, it’s too late when you start to deal with it. It’s unbearable.
A back cushion could be the best action you can benefit from taking. Whether you’re in the office, or at home, a back cushion will take the stress off your back, bring you relief, and eventually help your lower back pain go away.
Seat cushions will also:
- realign your spine
- take off pressure
- free sciatica nerve
For a little investment, you can save yourself a lot of pain throughout your day, and enhance your life for the better.
The right back cushion will vary from person to person, but because I’ve experienced trials from all of them, I can tell you what works for you at your age, and condition.
What do I do?
I started with a memory foam backrest pillow for my chair, and car. I needed something better than a smaller scale support pillow that was not giving me the firm, and proper spine alignment posture.
What I did was choose an Everlasting Comfort 100% pure memory foam Pillow, that provided me with a blend of “comfort and support” for not only my lower back, but upper, and mid.
If you’ve ever experienced chronic lower back pain, you how consuming it is! Whenever you’re on a drive, traveling, doing an all-nigther paper you need to finish for you assignment, and even eating, you can focus on what matters most to you.
The most benefit I found was not having to get an expensive ergonomic chair, because the back cushion works best with a smaller cost.
Here’s my back cushion!
It wasn’t until a month after I welcomed a new partnership…
In a months time, I took things one step farther. I paired up my back cushion, and used a seat cushion.
If you’ve had acute, chronic, and even sciatic nerve pain, you well know how irritating it is when your back flares up, and you have constant pain, and its hard to get relief. True relief takes getting pressure off your nerves.
Take the pressure off your:
- sciatic nerve
- chronic pain
- acute pain
What have I’ve been using the Everlasting Comfort 100& Pure Memory Foam Luxury Seat Cushion. It’s given me more relief than a pain reliever could ever do in a day. Its quite incredible to be honest with you.
Here’s a picture of my Memory foam seat cushion!
Memory foam seat cushions like the one I have above are a great tool for working, but it’s not the only way to utilize them.
For instance, how about when you need to sit at your home, when you have your next meal to eat, while you’re in your car, or traveling?
I love it for all the reasons that it helps me keep my:
- posture stable
- spine alignment straight
- my tailbone(coccyx) in no pain
- my hips and hamstrings in happiness
It’s never a problem for me when I choose to make my couch my work space…
There are days when I’m at home working, and I can’t get to my chair and desktop. Therefore, I bust out my seat cushion, place it over my somewhat uncomfortable couch, and I’m ready to work for hours!
What if you were not sitting at your desk , and lets say you imposing your physical dominance?
You’ve Hit Lift Off
A common workplace environment can come in the form of lifting. Whether that be light or heavy objects, the right measures need to be assessed.
I do some lifting at work right now. Often times I will run into a heavy load of 20 LB boxes, or if I have to help move a pallet around manually, it can be in the tons! I’m happy I have equipment that doesn’t enable me to do that anymore.
One day, I hurt my back from the result of lifting repetitively a heavy box. Moving it here, moving it there as I was instructed to do, and I’m here thinking would it ever stop?
I had to lower my body to the ground and with the box in hand, and lift right back up. The moral of this story was…
Learn the right technique and you will be fine, learn to do it wrong and… I think you know.
- Bend awkwardly
- Get out of position.
- Underestimate your joints
Some days were worse than others…
I couldn’t hold my upper back straight, let alone my lower back while only standing; my muscles indicated that they were really weak, and that was along with my disc and sciatic pain incurring. My immediate thought was “back braces”. There was the answer. I spent part of my next check on a back brace.
The results were tremendous. Not only did I allow my spine to re-align and adjust to better pressure relief, I was back to:
- lifting boxes
- walking around more smoothly
- Doing activities I couldn’t have done prior
One thing to note about back braces are that they should only be used temporarily, and not long term. Most, but not all are known to not help your abdomen, and you can get very dependent on them.
But If you can’t dare to lift heavy weights or scurry around your work environment, back braces are very helpful moving forward.
Joints And Back Muscles
There are many joints in where the bones meet your back, and most of the time these joints can take lots of stress. Using an improper technique with even the smallest weight you can hurt your back. So Modifying your techniques is more so important.
For anyone who has experienced severe chronic lower back pain, the result more likely than not has come from lifting.Why?
After the lower spine is put under too much stress the low back muscles can become severely injured.
- Keep your chest forward
- Bend with your hips
- bend the hips and push your chest out
- Keep the weight close to your body. The closer and object is to your center of gravity the easier it is to hold.
A common misconception:
For example: Most people can lift a gallon of juice up. When in the upward position, it does take more force to hold it there. The farther away from your body, the worse strain it has on your back. Keep that gallon of orange juice at home or at the groceries close to you!
If there is an object that is wider than getting it in between your knees, ask for help. You do not want to increase the load on your back.
What about when you’re up and mobile?
You’re On The Job Site
Working outdoors, whether that be in a truck, or construction can cause just the same amount of pain as any other environment.
30% of construction worker missed work due to an injury in the spine. Why is that?
- Heavy lifting
- Tool belts
- Long hours on the job
- Repetitive tasks
- Bad posture
If you find yourself hammering in that nail to a board try to keep your back at a straight position. Sometimes you find that you will be on your knees hitting a nail right under you, and what you should allow is letting your upper back arch. You can correct it by…
Re-positioning the board so that it is in front of your and not in between your knees or feet.
- Wear a construction back brace
- Stretch before. Most employers do not stress this, but it is key. You are doing physical labor remember that.
- Lift with your legs.
I worked in construction for a short amount of time, and I was told constantly told to lift with my legs and not my back. I couldn’t give you the exact count.
- Cut your weight load. Get help from others
- Take a short break. In the waiting periods, move around a little.
- Take care after hours.
Its hard to rule out that a laborious job will not cause you to have a lower back problem. Repetitive use of the muscles can cause your back to hurt over time. I’ve had this happen to me, and I’ve seen it happen to friends my age, and adults.
If you are not fit to do your job, its better you do not continue at it. Take the time to work on yourself outside of work by eating the right types of foods, and having the right calorie intake.
You Manufactured It
Are you someone who works, or had worked in manufacturing? I know I once did.
In the manufacturing world, you are usually required to stay at your station for prolonged periods of time. You could be getting your hands inside a machine, documenting the work off a printer, or building the next wafer project.
To relieve lower back pain in this industry, I tried a various amount of things.
- Walk around the complex
- Stand up from a chair and reach my hands for the sky
- Walk to get a drink of water
All of these are great things to do! If you have to stand up for a long amount of time in a fixed position, your brain receptors tell you to relax your legs. You can have a seat for a couple of minutes.
In A Warehousing Environment
A couple years back, I worked in shipping and receiving, using various forklift devices to pick up material from shipping and bringing it back to our warehousing unit. And also taking it back to the receiving area.
And then there were times where I had to pick up the material manually by hand, or push and pull it. I was carrying around boxes of media for Hewlett Packard(HP), working for a company called Lionbridge Technologies.
OH BOY, when I had to use a manual pallet jack or lift boxes to assemble or dissemble from a pallet. it was heavy and physical. I’m talking about each box of media(paper) being as small as 15 pounds and up to as much as 45lbs per box. Here’s an example of the smaller box size:
This little box with 5 reams of paper in it would get heavy from time to time, and then there were boxes that were bigger. I had to use proper lifting techniques and back belts so I wouldn’t damage my back. But at some point, I made my back worse.
So learn from me, and make sure you are lifting with your knees and not your back, at ALL times! And if you can’t, make sure someone else like your co-worker can take that responsibility.
The Trainer And Athlete In You
Likely you are a coach of a sports team, a personal trainer, or the student-athlete. There are ways to resolve your Lower Back Pain.
Coaches are in constant activity, stationary and in movement. Your responsibility as a coach is to bring help and make sure someone else is learning the Activity being performed. I’ve been in your shoes, and I can tell you one thing…
It’s much better to participate in training then it is to just give direction. Getting involved is much more fun. As a coach, you are much more in line to cause lower back pain because there was no stretching prior. Any extended movement can be the one to do it. What you can look like the following
When it comes to game time, that all too comfortable bench or chair on the sideline can be deceiving. Don’t sit for prolonged periods. If you happen to be sitting for over 10 minutes, get up to walk. Pace up and down the line.
Personal trainers that are working constantly with and without weights need to be careful. Warm-up before. Stretch from your upper body to lower body. When helping out a client, to use proper form for yourself as well. Stand up and use proper positioning.
Student-athletes on the job are always prone to a small and LARGE injury. If you are working at a high intensity be careful in which way and direction you are moving in. One twist or jerk at a high intensity can cause the most amount of pain. Any chance you get to slow down, regather, and be ready for the next motion.
How to build your own ergonomic workspace:
There will be times where you have to make a very hard decision, yet it’s so simple…
- Should I have more room to work in?
- Do I need the extra pencils at my desk?
- Can I move clutter?
You’re in luck, I created a whole separate article that will show you step-by-step how to maximize your working environment, and so that you can setup the proper ergonomics.
Go ahead and have a look at the ergonomics at work article right here.
You’re Never Far From Living Your Best Life
Learning “the do’s” and “don’ts” of what to do while you spend the time away at work can be the difference between something small and big. You work really hard at work, and your back does not need to be roughed up in the process. It does so much to help you, give and take.
If you begin to make adjustments in your own working environment, you’ll begin to notice a powerful effect. Your habits will become stronger, and your muscles and joints will strengthen.
If you have any questions, comments, or opinions, I would be more than happy if you offered them up. I could learn something from you, and you can learn more from me if you wish. I will get back to you sooner rather than later!
The Remove Back Pain System
This is where You’ll start getting fed with all the natural remedies, all the things that can help you fight off the root of your cause, and aid you in exercising and improving in all areas of your life. But If you need to reference what to do at home after a day of work, make sure to see my home article here.
Continue with the Remove Back Pain System by learning about all the natural ways to relieve your lower back pain.