Ergonomics examines a worker’s relationship to work, work tools and the work environment. The goal is to achieve maximum efficiency of the human body while minimizing the risk of injury.

Ergonomics is not “rocket science.” Learning how to make simple adjustments to your workstation and habits can greatly enhance your well being and your productivity.

Once you encounter back or neck pain, you are four times as likely to experience it again. This is why prevention is essential to your long-term recovery.

One of the best ways to avoid back pain is to exercise and stretch. Low-impact aerobics, such as walking or swimming, are an ideal way to prevent or treat back pain. Stop if the exercise becomes painful, and always remember to stretch. Stretching is easy to incorporate into your daily routine. You can even do it in front of the television.




Sitting and Back Pain

  • The spine likes movement. Anything that puts the spine in a static position creates stress, which can cause back and neck pain. Every hour, stand, walk around, bend, arch backward gently and twist. Doing so at regular intervals will lengthen the amount of time you can sit comfortably. Also, get an ergonomically-designed chair or an orthopedic insert to support your spine, especially if your job involves long periods of sitting. Or roll up a towel, and place it behind your low back.
  • While traveling on a plane, it helps to raise your feet on a briefcase or a bag underneath the seat in front of you. Ask for a pillow to place behind your low back to improve lumbar support. It is important to get up frequently and walk to the bathroom and back. Avoid hour-long periods in your seat.

Standing and Back Pain

  • Some jobs leave you standing for long periods of time. For instance, teachers and cashiers must stand for several hours without rest. Although you probably do not spend very much time thinking about it, while standing, people rarely equally distribute their weight onto both legs. Rather, they tend to shift weight from one side to another throwing the spine out of alignment, which can lead to back strain.
  • Prolonged standing can also strain the back. If you have to stand for long periods of time, prop one foot on a small stool or telephone book to reduce stress in the low back. Alternate with the other foot. Every half hour, bend over and touch your toes with your knees slightly bent,
  • If you find yourself having difficulty standing without shifting weight, try standing with one leg on a footrest, periodically switching feet. Take a minute every now and then to do back exercises, which will help loosen up stiffness.

Driving and Back Pain

  • Just like a desk job, sitting for long periods while driving can cause strain on the back. Many seats in cars are designed to support the spine properly, but even if your car was designed with ergonomics in mind, your height may differ from the typical height person the seat was designed for. Feel it out. If your back hurts after a long drive, roll up a towel and place it behind your low back to support the lumbar spine.
  • A long drive is often followed by yanking heavy suitcases out of the trunk. Watch out. Your back is at high risk of injury. Even if you have not been driving long distances, lifting a heavy object might be a normal part of your day-to-day tasks at work. Accidents are prone to occur during improper lifting. Mothers are also at risk when it comes to heavy lifting. Lifting a child can cause back strain if not done properly.
    Avoid sitting for long periods

Sleeping and Back Pain

  • Avoid sleeping on your stomach, which arches your back and puts pressure on your spine. Instead, lie on your back with a small pillow tucked under your knees. This position unloads the spine. An alternate position is to lie on your side with a pillow between your knees. If you like sleeping on your stomach, place a soft, flat pillow under your stomach to eliminate some of the arch that can stress your back.
  • It is important to sleep on a mattress with optimal back support, whether it is a conventional mattress or a waterbed. Older waterbeds were mushy and provided little support. However, now there are waterbeds that allow you to adjust the level of firmness. A good mattress should relate to your body shape. Generally, go with what feels comfortable to you.

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