WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — It’s all in the form when it comes to protecting yourself from work-related injuries and pain.
We’re exploring the science of ergonomics and how little adjustments and adaptations in the workplace can make or break your body.
Maybe you sit at a desk all day or hardly get a chance to sit while working construction or stocking groceries.
Either way, back pain can be a result of the work you do.
“The last statistics I read, just shy of 80% of all adults will have some form of back pain throughout the course of their life,” United Regional Director of Rehabilitation, Wound Care & Sports Medicine Services Travis Newberry said.” As far as work-related back pain it’s about 1 in 5 of all workplace are back pain related and of those with ergonomics, about 75% of those are related to poor lifting techniques, when they attempted to lift something they did it incorrectly and injured their back as a result.”
Newberry said ergonomics, or the science of motion of the body in relation to work, shows there are ways around the pain.
“Periodically make breaks for yourself, so once an hour or once every hour and a half, get up, stretch and or walk around to give your body a chance to reset and or get those muscles used to working again,” Newberry said.”Anything above the knees or below the shoulders is generally a safe zone to move stuff around, if you have to reach really really low you put a lot of stress on your back, if you have to reach really really high that puts a lot of stress on your upper back and sometimes your lower back depending on how much weight you’re trying to move.”
When it comes to lifting, Newberry suggests it’s not always the super large or heavy items that knock people on their feet.
“Most patients are actually injured moving something that’s relatively small that they didn’t consider to be a big weight so 10 pounds or less and roughly the size of a big shoebox, they don’t consider that to be overly large, but if they use bad ergonomics or they lean over at the waist, they reach out really far, that puts a lot of stress on the lower back,” Newberry said. “Versus, if they see something that’s large and potentially heavy, those natural principles of get close to it, kind of bend at the knees and lift with your legs, tend to fall into line and they do serve when they’re lifting bigger objects.”
If lifting isn’t in your job description, it may be time to consider adding it in the form of a standing or adjustable desk.
“It also helps to have different positions depending on your day, so again, standing up all the time is a little bit stressful to the body, versus sitting down all the time, so an adjustable desk actually provides the best of both worlds where you can have it really really tall, seated or sometimes in the middle is actually the best choice for you at least for a certain amount of time,” Newberry said.
He said people who sit at a desk a lot for work, may experience discomfort or pain, especially if bad posture is a part of that.
“For those people who have a very sedentary lifestyle or a job that they sit at a desk a lot, you’re in a very short position so it’s not just the muscles of your spine, it’s the muscles that control your trunk and some of those are actually like your abdominal muscles or the muscles deep inside your trunk that kind of hold your body stable when you’re up and moving around,” Newberry said. “So if you’re always sitting in sort of a slouched or crunched position all those muscles are getting kind of short and ultimately kind of weak.”
Proper form and minor adjustments to keep you at work, not recovering from an injury happening because of work.
Newberry suggests testing the weight of something before going in to lift it because last-minute adjustments while holding the object could result in pain or injury.