In the United States, back injuries are common. They are the second most common type of workplace injury, accounting for more than 20 percent of all such injuries. Back injuries can be caused by a variety of factors, including lifting heavy objects, repetitive motions, and poor posture.
Most back injuries are caused by overexertion or repetitive motion. Other causes include falls, car accidents, and sports injuries. However, there are several things you can do to help prevent back injuries, which we discuss below.
Common Causes of Back Injuries
One of the most common causes of back injuries is falling. This can happen at any time but is more likely to occur if you are working at heights or on slippery surfaces.
To help prevent falls, always use a ladder or scaffolding when working at heights. When possible, have someone else hold the ladder for you. When working on slippery surfaces, wear shoes with good traction and be sure to clean up any spills immediately.
Lifting Heavy Objects
Lifting heavy objects is another common cause of back injuries. When lifting, be sure to use your legs, not your back. Squat down and lift with your legs, keeping the object close to your body. Avoid twisting your body when lifting. If you need to turn, move your feet instead.
Repetitive motion can also lead to back injuries. This is often seen in jobs that require assembly line work or data entry. To help prevent these injuries, take breaks often and stretch your muscles regularly. If possible, try to vary your tasks throughout the day to give your muscles a break.
Car accidents are another common cause of back injuries. To help prevent these, always wear your seatbelt and make sure your car is in good repair. Drive defensively and be aware of other drivers on the road. Avoid driving in bad weather if possible.
Sports injuries are also a common cause. To help prevent these, always warm up before playing and cool down afterward. Wear proper shoes and protective gear. Avoid playing through pain. If you do sustain an injury, see a doctor right away.
How To Prevent Back Injuries
Use Proper Lifting Techniques
When lifting something heavy, be sure to bend at your knees, not your waist. Use your leg muscles to lift, and keep the object close to your body. If possible, ask for help from another person.
Use Good Posture
When sitting, standing, or walking, keep your back straight and your shoulders squared.
Avoid slouching, which puts unnecessary stress on your back muscles and spine. When sitting, use a chair that supports your back and gives you good posture.
Stretching helps to lengthen and strengthen your back muscles, which can help prevent injuries. Be sure to warm up before stretching, and focus on your back, shoulder, and leg muscles.
See a Doctor if You Have Back Pain
If you experience back pain, see a doctor to rule out any serious underlying conditions. In many cases, back pain can be treated with over-the-counter medication, physical therapy, and exercises.
You Can Protect Your Back From Injury
While back injuries are common, there are several things you can do to help prevent them. Use proper lifting techniques, good posture, and stretch regularly. If you experience back pain, see a doctor right away. Of course, some accidents will simply be out of your control, especially on the job. If you injure your back at work, contact a lawyer about a workers’ comp back injury settlement.
Find more health and wellness ideas in our archives.